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Vacant seat on Southold Town planning board filled

Southold Town Hall is at 53095 Route 25,

Southold Town Hall is at 53095 Route 25, seen here on April 1, 2012. Credit: Ursula Moore

The Southold Town board is expected Tuesday night to name Pierce Rafferty, of Fishers Island, to fill a vacant seat on the town planning board.

He replaces Ken Edwards, who resigned at the end of the year.

The appointment of Rafferty, director of the Henry L. Ferguson Museum on Fishers Island, continues the tradition of always giving one seat on the planning board and town zoning board of appeals to a resident of Fishers Island.

The tiny island, just off the Connecticut coast, is part of Southold Town. Its year-round population is only a few hundred residents.

The Fishers Island town justice also serves on Southold’s six-member town board.

“We went to New London to interview the candidates,” Supervisor Scott Russell said.

It is unclear whether Southold’s town board has reached a consensus in filling another, more prominent vacancy: the town board seat left open by Al Krupski, who was recently elected to the Suffolk County Legislature.

“We’ll have to see if there’s a consensus,” Russell said.

While the planning board seat is an appointed position, the town board seat is voted on, and whoever gets it will have to run again in November’s general election.

Several people have told town board members they are interested in the post, and Russell -- a Republican -- said he has given their names to the town Republican leader for screening, a move which upset town Democratic chairman Art Tillman.

Tillman has said that, since Krupski was the only Democrat on the town board, it would be only fair to name a Democrat to fill the vacancy, and that having the GOP leadership do the screening was a “blatant affront” to claims that all candidates would be considered fairly by the town board.

But Russell said that asking for a screening from his party was only an attempt to find someone who would have significant support when they have to run in November. “We’re asking for guidance, not direction,” he said. “We’re looking for continuity on the town board.”

The town board meets at 7:30 p.m. in Town Hall.

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