Whoever governs Southold must balance the pressure to build and grow against the need to preserve the bucolic charm that is its economic engine. Ten-year Republican incumbent Scott Russell, 51, of Cutchogue, and Democrat Damon Rallis, 41, of Mattituck, have a rocky history.
Rallis has worked for the town for 15 years, mostly as a plans examiner, except a few years when he took charge of code enforcement. Rallis says he took back his old job in 2013 after he was pressured as code officer to give some people preferential treatment. Russell says Rallis asked to leave the job because "it didn't work out." Code enforcement is now overseen by the town attorney to ensure follow-up of citations, which Russell says was lacking.
Under Russell, the town wisely held off on hiring police until reaching a contract that slows "step" raises for new cops and requires them to contribute to health care. To cut summer traffic, some running and biking events were banned on local roads. The town passed a law requiring two-week rentals in homes to deter speculators from buying up houses to rent on the Internet. Russell's top goal for what he says would be his last term is to finish a master plan that would cluster businesses in downtowns and be updated for new industries, such as aquaculture. And he is trying to unify East End towns to support high-tech septic systems for new homes.
Because of his vision on water quality and his overall experience, Newsday endorses Russell.