Republican incumbent Jill Doherty, left, and Democrat Anne Smith earned the...

Republican incumbent Jill Doherty, left, and Democrat Anne Smith earned the top votes in a four-way race for Southold Town council seats. Credit: James Escher

Absentee ballot counts confirmed Democrat Anne Smith and Republican incumbent Jill Doherty earned the top votes in a four-way race for Southold Town council seats, giving Democrats control of the board for the first time in more than a decade.

Smith got 4,367 votes, or 26.5% of the vote, and Doherty got 4,251, or 25.8%, according to final results released Nov. 27 by the Suffolk County Board of Elections.

Smith, 67, and Doherty, 59, were the front-runners on election night, though Democrats were hopeful absentee ballots would tip the votes in favor of Gwynn Schroeder, who trailed Doherty by 163 votes on election night.

Doherty, who was first elected in 2011, said Tuesday, “I look forward to finishing projects I’ve been working on and [getting] fresh eyes on long term projects.” 

Smith, a former Mattituck-Cutchogue school district superintendent, said she’s eager to get to work on an ongoing zoning project to update town codes based on the 2020 comprehensive plan.

Smith said Tuesday she was curious “about leadership in a new capacity and in an area where I didn’t have all the answers.”

On Long Island, where a "red wave" has put Republicans in power in recent years, Southold is an outlier, flipping several town-level seats from red to blue starting in 2019, when Sarah Nappa became the first Democrat elected to the town council in a decade.

Voters in Southold also elected Suffolk County Legis. Al Krupski as supervisor, the first Democrat elected to the post since 2001. Current Supervisor Scott Russell, who was elected in 2005 and is the longest-tenured supervisor in town history, opted not to seek re-election.

That tips the town board in favor of Democrats by a 4-2 margin. Krupski and Smith will join Democrats Greg Doroski and Brian Mealy, as well as Republicans Louisa Evans and Doherty.

The last time the GOP did not hold a majority on the board was in 2007, according to town records.

“When I look at the point spread, I think our message spoke to the voters,” Sandra Benedetto, acting chair of the Southold Town Democratic Committee, said Tuesday.

In an interview Saturday, Southold GOP chair Peter McGreevy said he wasn't surprised by Krupski's win.

"Regardless of party, he's a very strong candidate with extremely long coattails," he said. "That said, Southold is facing changing demographics … that changes the balance between parties in this town."  

John Alberts, the county’s Democratic Board of Elections commissioner, said 526 absentee ballots were cast in Southold. Schroeder received 4,113 votes and Republican Stephen Kiely 3,719 in the council race, according to the final count.

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