Amber Brach-Williams, the Republican challenger to Democratic incumbent Mary Dudley for a seat on the Town Board, is the presumed winner in a stunning victory Tuesday.
Official results had Ms. Brach-Williams receiving 835 votes to Ms. Dudley’s 518. That breaks down to a 62 to 38 percent split for the GOP Challenger. Even with 468 absentee ballots still to be counted, Shelter Island Democratic Committee Chairwoman Heather Reylek conceded moments after the polls at the Shelter Island School gym closed at 9 p.m. that Ms. Brach-Williams’ lead was “insurmountable.”
Of those who applied to vote absentee, 231 are registered Democrats, 105 are registered Republicans, and the balance didn’t list party affiliation, according to Suffolk County Board of Elections Commissioner Nick LaLota. County Board of Elections Clerk Mike Commando, who monitored the voting all day at the Shelter Island School gym, said the absentee ballots wouldn’t begin to be processed for at least a week.
“I’m happy,” Ms. Brach-Williams said as she received congratulations from the party’s faithful at the American Legion Hall, the Republican’s election night headquarters. The Island businesswoman — she is co-owner of A&A Williams accounting firm in the Center — repeated that her emotion after the polls closed as ”happy, but humble. I’m happy Mary and I both ran good, clean campaigns. I’m eager to get to work.”
Ms. Brach–Williams’ large margin in the raw vote was impressive since the Island went strongly Democratic in the Congressional and presidential elections, so voters had to split their tickets to vote for her.
Ms. Dudley, at Democrat election night headquarters at the Ram’s Head Inn, was relaxed early in the evening. After an announcement that she was trailing in the race, she took the results with good grace.
In the race for the 1st Congressional District, Democratic challenger Anna Throne-Holst, a former Southampton supervisor, garnered 763 Island votes to 630 for incumbent Congressman Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) in an unofficial count as the polls closed.
District-wide, Mr. Zeldin won handily for a second term taking 59 percent of the vote to Ms. Throne-Holst’s 41 percent, according to the Suffolk County board of Elections.
Incumbent Assemblyman Fred Thiele Jr. (I-Sag Harbor), who represents Shelter Island had an easy path to victory Tuesday, taking 61.6 percent of the district’s vote to GOP challenger Heather Collins’s 38.4 percent.
In the presidential election, Island voters cast 764 votes for Hillary Clinton to Donald Trump’s 568.
Turnout was extraordinary locally, with 82 percent of Island voters casting ballots Tuesday, according to unofficial results provided by Ms. Reylek. Both she and several election officials at the polls said the turnout was the largest in recent years.
As for the only proposition on the ballot, asking voters to extend the Community Preservation Fund — collected by a 2 percent real estate transfer tax to purchase and preserve open space — until 2050 and approve taking up to 20 percent of CPF funds annually for clean water initiatives, only one election district on the Island was recorded by the Democrats and Republican. District 1 had a count of 218 “yes” votes and 95 “no” votes.
Both Ms. Reylek and her counterpart, Republican Committee Chairman Bob DeStefano Jr., said all indications were that the proposition would pass overwhelmingly.