Southampton Parties Screening Candidates For November Races

Southampton Town Councilwoman Julie Lofstad. EXPRESS FILE

As local political parties complete the screening process for the November election, Southampton Town Democrats are already faced with replacing two incumbents who have decided to not seek reelection.

Councilwoman Julie Lofstad, who won a special election in 2016 and won her first full term in 2017, confirmed this week that she would not seek a new term.

Ms. Lofstad, who said she “loves public service,” said she was stepping down for personal reasons.

Justice Deborah Kooperstein, who was first elected in 1993, said she would not seek an eighth term and instead return to her private law practice.

Highway Superintendent Alex Gregor, an Independence Party member who has received Democratic backing in the past, will not seek a fourth four-year term. Mr. Gregor, who has frequently clashed with Supervisor Jay Schneiderman, ran a primary on the Independence Party line against the supervisor in 2019, effectively ending his relationship with the Democratic Party.

Democratic Committee Chairman Gordon Herr said screenings would be completed in the next week or so. He declined to speculate as to who would fill the party’s vacancies.

Other Democrats, who have spoken on condition of anonymity, have said Robin Long, an attorney with a Southampton Village law practice who lives in Hampton Bays, is considered a front-runner for Ms. Lofstad’s seat. A member of the Town Planning Board, Ms. Long declined to comment this week.

Republican Chairman David Betts was also close-lipped, saying that the party planned to hold its convention on Wednesday, February 3, and would announce its slate of candidates afterward.

“We are still processing things,” he said. “I don’t like to speculate because things can change at a moment’s notice.”

While the name of Cynthia McNamara, an East Quogue resident who took part in an effort to incorporate the hamlet as a village two years, has been mentioned as a possible Town Board candidate, she could not be reached for comment.

Several sources, requesting anonymity, have said a move is afoot to unseat Justice Barbara Wilson, who has served on the bench since 1997 and typically is cross-endorsed by the major parties. Ms. Wilson said she had not heard of the attempt to replace her. “I’m still screening and I hope to get the endorsements,” she said.

The sources have said the Democrats and Republicans would strike a deal that would have them cross-endorse a candidate from each party to fill the two openings on the Justice Court. Democrat Adam Grossman, an attorney and the chairman of the Town Zoning Board of Appeals, and Republican attorney Pat Gunn, who lost to Justice Karen Sartain in a special election last fall, have been mentioned as the possible candidates.

All five Town Trustee seats are up for grabs this year, with Democrats holding a 3-2 majority with Eric Shultz, Bill Pell, and Ann Welker expected to seek reelection along with Republicans Ed Warner Jr. and Scott Horowitz.