The atmosphere was electric at the Larkfield Manor Tuesday night as Democratic town board candidates Supervisor Frank Petrone and Councilman Mark Cuthbertson, stepped into the limelight for another four years, this time joined by Tracey Edwards, who unseated Councilman Mark Mayoka to win a term on the town board.
In the race for Huntington’s highway superintendent, Peter Gunther, the Conservative-Republican candidate, defeated Democrat Bill Naughton, who has held the job for 25 years.
Petrone (D, WF), the supervisor for nearly 20 years, defeated Councilman Gene Cook (I, R, C) by 595 votes. A total of 36,547 were cast in the race, according to unofficial Suffolk County Board of Elections results.
Just a few percentage points separated the four town board candidates. Cuthbertson led the pack with 26.46 percent, while Edwards secured her win with 25.67 percent. Incumbent Republican Mark Mayoka was third with 24.5 percent. His running mate, Josh Price, took 23.33 percent.
“The people of Huntington spoke, and they like what’s going on in Huntington,” Petrone said in his victory speech. “We will not let you down.”
Voter turnout was heavy for the high-stakes election. According to the board of elections, this year’s supervisor election drew nearly 7,000 more voters than the last supervisor race in 2009.
Cuthbertson, who was first elected as a town councilman in 1998, said that after four election cycles, this year’s campaign was exceptionally trying.
But he said that risks taken by the Democrats on the town board, including their support for The Paramount theater in Huntington village and bringing Canon’s headquarters to Melville and AvalonBay to Huntington Station, were progressive steps the town needed to take to ensure a greater quality of life for residents in the long term.
“We ruffled some feathers, but [those steps] will move this town forward tremendously,” Cuthbertson said.
Edwards, who was nowhere to be found until just before the results were announced, admitted she was at church when the polls closed. A Verizon executive from Dix Hills who has twice run unsuccessfully for the town board, she said a grassroots approach made the difference.
“I feel absolutely amazing. It’s a remarkable day,” she said.
Highway Superintendent William Naughton was absent from the Democrats’ victory celebration. He lost to Conservative candidate and Republican-backed Peter Gunther, a retired firefighter whose platform focused on increasing efficiency and transparency in the highway department.
Meanwhile, at Albert’s Mandarin Gourmet in Huntington, where Republicans set up shop Tuesday night, anxious anticipation gave way to dejection as the reality of a town board sweep came into focus.
“We’re sad to see the results. We’re proud of the race we ran – I thought we ran a great race. We ran an honest race,” Cook said.
Gunther’s victory over Naughton, as well as the victory for two new judges – Dix Hills’ Deborah Poulos on the Family Court bench and Northport’s David Reilly, in the State Supreme Court race – brought brief smiles to the night.
There were no concession speeches from the Republican camp, but GOP Chair Toni Tepe said Republicans ran a strong campaign to retake town hall.
“I believe we put forth the issues that the taxpayers are interested in,” Tepe said.
Price congratulated Edwards on her victory, and said the town “will be in good hands.”
“She’s a wonderful, warm, gracious person,” Price said.
Mayoka, who will leave the board at the end of the year, congratulated the winners and urged them to focus on issues he championed, like small businesses, the town’s bond rating, and Huntington’s fiscal health.
“I hope my opponents will be able to grapple with those issues and benefit the residents,” Mayoka said.
Cook, who will begin the second half of his four-year term in January as the only non-Democrat on the board, vowed to keep fighting for issues close to his heart.
“I’m still going to do everything for the people that I’m there for,” he said.
Incumbents Win County Races
Three Democrats who represent the Town of Huntington in the Suffolk County Legislature scored victories Tuesday to earn re-election.
The closest race was in the 18th District, where Legislator William Spencer (D-Centerport) won a second two-year term outpolling Robert Conte (R-Huntington Station) by nearly 12 percent. Spencer won by more than 2,000 votes of more than 17,500 cast, according to unofficial Board of Election results.
Spencer said he was “humbled” by the support and thanked Conte for stepping up.
“I still have a vision for a lot of things we can do to make our quality of life and our families safer, and to continue to keep Long Island as one of the best places to live,” Spencer said.
In the 17th District, Legislator D’Amaro (D-N. Babylon) won a fifth term by defeating Republican James Martin with 61.81 percent of the vote.
“I am honored for the support that constituents once again placed in me, and I take my win as a reaffirmation of my approach to government in SuffolkCounty,” D’Amaro said.
Legislator Steve Stern (D-Dix Hills) won a fifth term in the 16th District. He ran unopposed.
“I’m grateful to my neighbors for giving me the opportunity to serve them these next two years,” Stern said.
Democratic-backed candidates won 12 of 18 seats in the Legislature.