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Newcomers toss hats in ring for November’s election


The political season is up and running on Shelter Island, with Democratic and Republican committees announcing some newcomers for the November ballot.

Republican Gary Gerth, who has never run for office, will challenge Supervisor Jim Dougherty, a Democrat seeking his sixth term as supervisor.

Democrat Albert Dickson and Republican Marcus Kaasik, making their first bids in elective politics, are running for two at large Town Board seats, one held by incumbent Republican Councilwoman Amber Brach-Williams, and the other an open seat with Councilwoman Chris Lewis announcing she won’t seek another term.

Highway Superintendent and Commissioner of Public Works Jay Card Jr., Town Clerk Dorothy Ogar and Assessors Craig Wood and Patricia Castoldi have been endorsed by both parties.

The Democrats, as of this week, have only nominated one candidate, Mr. Dickson, to challenge for the two at large seats up for election this November.

According to Republican Committee Chairman Bob DeStefano Jr., Mr. Gerth, 75, has been an Island resident for 45 years and is a member of the American Legion and a parishioner of Our Lady of the Isle. He retired from the U.S. Navy reserves in 2002 with the rank of commander, serving on active duty from 1965 to 1969. Mr. Werth has a BA from Hofstra University in political science and Masters in divinity from Rutgers University.

No stranger to politics and public service, Mr. Gerth has been executive assistant to the Hempstead supervisor and legislative adviser to the presiding officer of the Nassau County Legislature. He was also director of the Long Island Veterans Service Agency.

Mr. Dickson, 64,  who is the appointed chairman of the town’s Water Advisory Committee, said his family roots go back a number of generations, when his great grandparents settled here in 1860. “I’ve always felt very fortunate to have grown up on Shelter Island,” he said.

According to Heather Reylek, chairwoman of the Democratic Committee, Mr. Dickson has “had a long career as an environmental project manager,” responsible for coordinating all aspects of “site decontamination,” including assessment, remediation and disposal of hazardous material.

Mr. Kaasik, 48, is a lifelong resident of the Island, although, he said, he spent “the first five days of life at the Greenport hospital.”

A graduate of Shelter Island high School, he studied developmental and cognitive psychology at University of Helsinki, Finland and Economics at Temple University, according to Mr. DeStefano. Married to Eda Kaasik, their daughter Johanna is a student at the Shelter Island School. He’s active, with his brother John, in the school’s drama program.

Mr. Kaasik, has operated a carpentry business on the Island for more than 20 years, Mr. DeStefano said, and is a licensed general contractor.