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UPDATE: It’s Amber for supe in a squeaker: Unofficial count has her beating Gooding

Unofficial results show Amber Brach-Williams will be the first woman elected Shelter Island town supervisor since 1979, defeating Gordon Gooding in Tuesday’s election. If the numbers remain in her favor once absentee ballots are counted, Ms. Brach-Williams will be only the second woman to take the top post in town government since Barbara Kaiser’s election in 44 Novembers ago.

Ms. Brach-Williams, a Republican Town Board member and deputy town supervisor, had a narrow victory over the Democrat, Mr. Gooding, chairman of the town’s Community Preservation Advisory Board. She garnered 773 votes (49.9%) to Mr. Gooding’s  729 (47.%06) in his first bid for elective office.  There were 47 write-in votes for supervisor.

There were 286 requests by Islanders for absentee ballots, but only 179 responded in time to have them counted, and results have not been released so far by the Suffolk County Board of Elections.

The BOE posted totals late Tuesday night and the two open Town Board seats — Councilman Jim Colligan and Councilwoman BJ Ianfolla are retiring — showed strong showings by the two  Democratic candidates, who will be sworn in this coming January. Former town councilman Albert Dickson and businessman and attorney Benjamin Dyett were solid picks by voters, with Mr. Dickson receiving 805 votes (27.7 %) — the most of any candidate — and Mr. Dyett receiving 740 votes (25.5%). This was the first run for elective office by Mr. Dyett and he will be the first African-American on the Town Board.

Candidates Albert Dickson, left, and Gordon Gooding at the Democratic Election Night party at the American Legion Post. Mr. Dickson, running for a return seat on the Town Board was the top vote-getter in the election. Mr. Gooding seems to have lost his bid for supervisor, but absentee ballots have not been counted as of press time. (Credit: Julie Lane)

Trailing the Democrats were Tom Cronin and Art Williams, both running on the Republican and Conservative lines. Mr. Cronin received 697 votes (24%) and Mr. Williams received 473 votes (16.3%).

There were 188 write-in votes for Town Board candidates.

Running unopposed or cross-endorsed by both parties, Ken Lewis Jr. was elected Superintendent of Highways and Public Works Commissioner; Amber Wilson was elected Town Clerk: and Annmarie Seddio was re-elected as Receiver of Taxes.

The political notion that early voting favors Democrats held true for the Island, but Ms. Brach-Williams did exceedingly well in the early balloting. She received 474 votes on Election Day voting, and Mr. Gooding received 330. Mr. Dickson had 374 Election Day votes, and Mr. Dyett 332.

Mr. Gooding told the Reporter on Wednesday morning that he was not conceding the race to Ms. Brach-Williams, but would wait for the absentee ballot count. Regardless of the final tally, he said “I have no ill feelings. I think we ran a good campaign.” He was pleased to see his running mates elected to the Town Board.

Mr. Gooding repeated a sentiment he shared with the Reporter Tuesday evening when early returns showed him trailing in the race, that he always told his son about sports: “Win or lose, be sure they remember you were on the field. I think they knew I was on the field.” 

Mr. Dyett said Tuesday morning that he still had hopes that Mr. Gooding could overcome Ms. Brach-William’s lead when absentee ballots were counted. He noted that, “People from all walks of life came out to support Democratic candidates. “This wasn’t my win,” he said, “it was theirs.”

Island GOP Chairman Gary Blados said early Tuesday morning that the “saving grace” of the election is the election of Ms. Brach-Williams, who he described as an incredibly hard worker and has the overall interests of Shelter Island at heart.”  Mr. Blados predicted that she will be “the most effective supervisor in our town’s history.”

As for the loss by the Republicans in the two races for Town Board, Mr. Blados said Councilmen-elect Dickson and Dyett “will now serve their financial masters who live in giant mansions for a few weekends a year.”

Praising the hard work by Mr. Cronin and Mr. Williams, he noted that write-in candidate Paul Shepherd dealt “a fatal blow to the Republican ticket,” taking votes from the GOP.

Mr. Shepherd responded Wednesday morning: “I figured they would try to blame it on me. Congratulations to  all of the winners.”

In a footnote: Stephen Kiely, Shelter Island’s Town Attorney, in a bid for a seat on the Southold Town Board, was defeated.

The Reporter will have more on this site and in Thursday’s print edition.