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Island Town Attorney running for Southold Town Board

The recent announcement that Town Attorney Stephen Kiely is a candidate for the Southold Town Board won’t change anything about his continuing to serve Shelter Island, he said.

Mr. Kiely told the Reporter that there is precedent for holding both jobs. He pointed to Assemblyman Fred Thiele Jr. (D-Sag Harbor) serving as Sag Harbor Village Attorney — until resigning that post in 2016 — while in the State Assembly, beginning in 1995 and continuing in that capacity today. 

There’s no jurisdictional requirement for Mr. Kiely, a Mattituck resident, to leave the Shelter Island post even if he succeeds in his bid to join the Southold Town Board, he said.

The interests of Shelter Island and Southold are well aligned, Mr. Kiely said. He said he has always had an interest in a political career in either the legislative or executive branches of government. “I just feel pulled to do it,” Mr. Kiely said about his decision to run for the Southold Town Board.

If his bid is successful and his time serving Southold Town is positive, he doesn’t preclude a political career at other levels, mentioning an interest in someday seeking election as a Republican candidate for a congressional seat.

He promises that should he win his bid in Southold, he would continue to give the same attention to the interests of Islanders as he has always given. He considers Shelter Island special, and wants to continue to serve its needs even as he pursues the Southold post.

In November, Islanders will be electing two new members to the Town Board, plus either incumbent Supervisor Gerry Siller, his primary opponent, Gordon Gooding, or Republican Amber Brach-Williams. It will be up to the newly constituted Town Board to reappoint Mr. Kiely or choose someone else to serve as the administration’s attorney.

Mr. Kiely has worked as an assistant town attorney for Brookhaven, and then for Southampton. He served three years as senior deputy county clerk for Suffolk County.

In 2014 he went to work as assistant town attorney for Southold. In 2016 he left the Town of Southold position to focus on his private practice.

Mr. Kiely ran twice for public office as a Republican, but was not elected. In 2018, he ran for Suffolk County Supreme Court Judge, and lost, and in 2019 gathered enough signatures to challenge Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell in a primary. In the end, he withdrew.

Mr. Russell went on to win the election by a small margin.

In his private practice, one of his clients was Stacey Soloviev of the Soloviev Group, owner of several Island businesses. Before his appointment as town attorney, representing Ms. Soloviev, he filed an application for a zoning area variance with the Shelter Island Planning Board, which was approved.

He also submitted a building application for a Chequit swimming pool.

When he accepted the position of town attorney, Mr. Kiely said he would recuse himself from all applications that come from the Soloviev properties on Shelter Island. Since becoming town attorney, he said he has not done any work for Ms. Soloviev.