After hundreds of absentee ballots cast in the 2021 Southampton Town election were counted Monday at the Suffolk County Board of Elections, Charles McArdle, who ran on the Republican, Conservative and Working Families lines in the highway superintendent race, clung to a slim 21-vote lead over Democrat Tom Neely.
In the Town Board race, Republican and Conservative candidate Cynthia McNamara remains the top vote-getter, while Democratic incumbent Tommy John Schiavoni narrowed the gap between them to retain his seat.
Absentee ballots also lifted Democrat Robin Long from a fourth-place finish to a narrow lead over Republican Ann Thomas for third, but still short of a victory.
Officials at the Suffolk County Board of Elections did not provide updated total vote tallies, citing the fact that the election had yet to be certified, a process that could take at least another week.
“It’s no longer Election Day, it’s Election Month,” said Republican Commissioner Nick Lalota.
He said McArdle held a 21-vote lead over Neely with 12 ballots being challenged. He said a winner would not be declared until a recount is completed.
“It’s too early to declare anything,” McArdle said Tuesday morning. “When you have 14,000 votes cast and you win by 20 votes, it’s a slim margin.”
McArdle said he was concerned that a hand recount could take close to a month and upset the transition process between current Highway Superintendent Alex Gregor and his successor.
Neely, who was running his first race for public office, did not return calls seeking comment.
Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said the election marked “a big red wave across Long Island.” Schneiderman and Gregor had a strained relationship, and the supervisor said if McArdle proved victorious in the end, he would make every effort to work with him.
“The main thing is that I have someone I can call when there is an emergency,” he said, “so we are all prepared if there is a storm, hurricane, blizzard or whatever it may be.”
Although neither Lalota nor McArdle could provide updated vote tallies for the highway superintendent’s race, McArdle led by a comfortable 353-vote margin when initial results were tallied on election night, with 6,705 votes to Neely’s 6,352. But with an estimated 760 Democrats requesting absentee ballots as compared to only 405 Republicans and 21 Conservatives, Neely was able to make up considerable ground.
Democratic Commissioner Anita Katz also was unable to provide updated tallies, saying those results would not be released until the vote is certified. She said workers were busy tallying results from across Suffolk County and needed time to do the job correctly.
Schiavoni, a North Haven resident who trailed Thomas until late on Election Night when he surged into second place on the strength of returns from the greater Sag Harbor area, solidified his grip on a second term with the absentee ballot tally.
According to figures he provided and which are not official, McNamara led all voters in the Town Board race with 7,176, while he came in second with 7,045 votes, closing a 496-vote gap to 131 votes.
He was not available for an interview.
Long, who lagged behind in fourth place on Election Night, trailing Thomas by 279 votes, moved into third place by 60 votes with a total of 6,463 votes to Thomas’s 6,403.
Bill Pell, with bipartisan support, Republicans Ed Warner Jr., Scott Horowitz, and William Parrash, and Democrat Ann Welker remained the apparent winners in the Trustees race, although Welker said she had been told the order of the candidates may have shifted. Updated results were not available.
There were no changes in other town races.