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Republicans sweep election, Gerth in as supervisor

AMBROSE CLANCY PHOTO Victorious Republicans toasting their sweep in the Town Board election Tuesday night. Raising glasses at the American Legion Hall moments after hearing the election results, are from left, Councilwoman Amber Brach-Williams, Supervisor-elect Gary Gerth and Town Councilman-elect Marcus Kaasik.

AMBROSE CLANCY PHOTO Victorious Republicans toasting their sweep in the Town Board election Tuesday night. Raising glasses at the American Legion Hall moments after hearing the election results, are, from left, Councilwoman Amber Brach-Williams, Supervisor-elect Gary Gerth and Town Councilman-elect Marcus Kaasik.

In a stunning upset, Republican Gary Gerth, a newcomer to Shelter Island politics, defeated Supervisor Jim Dougherty who was making a bid for a sixth term.

It was a Republican sweep at the polls, with Councilwoman Amber Brach-Williams handily reelected to the Town Board, and another newcomer to politics, Republican Marcus Kaasik, picking up the other contested seat.

The Democrats put up one candidate for the two seats, Water Advisory Committee Chairman Albert Dickson.

Preliminary results taken just as the polls closed at 9 p.m. had Mr. Gerth garnering 576 votes to Mr. Dougherty’s 475.

The big winner in the election was Ms. Brach-Williams with 753 votes. Mr. Kaasik’s race against Mr. Dickson was the closest, with the Republican taking home  597 votes to Mr. Dickson’s 553.

Results aren’t final, since election officials said there are absentee ballots outstanding. About 275 absentee ballots were requested, and 115 were filed as of November 6, election officials said.

Heather Reylek, chairwoman of the Island Democrats, said after  the polls closed that, “I still think that the Kassik/Dickson race is too early to call. It will be very close. Time will tell.”

Ms. Reylek noted that it would be “difficult” for Mr. Dougherty to squeeze out a victory from absentee ballots.

Champagne corks popped and cheers rang out when a happy group of Republicans, partying at American Legion Hall, heard the results from Republican Chairman Bob DeStefano Jr.

Unseating a five-term incumbent wasn’t a real surprise to Mr. Gerth, he said, adding, “We had the issues, the candidates and the timing.”

Asked to expand on the latter, the supervisor-elect said, “People were looking for a change.”

Ms. Brach-Williams said she was proud of the Republican team and the victory would bring “new energy to Town Hall.”

Winner of the closest race, Mr. Kaasik said he was “cautiously optimistic” he would prevail when all absentee ballots were tallied.

“It’s been a long road,” Mr. Kaasik said. “This feels right, and it’s great for Shelter Island.”

At a more somber Ram’s Head Inn where Shelter Island Democrats waited for election results, Mr. Dougherty was calm and smiling when he received the news of his defeat.

“Democracy is alive and well on Shelter Island,” the supervisor said. “The people have made their choice.”

Mr. Dickson said he was unsure about his future in politics. “I’ve got to let it settle in,” he said about the loss.

The Reporter will have more on the election on this site, and full coverage in the print edition Thursday.

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