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Barbara Donovan

Mayor Dolores ‘Dee’ Parrish will serve another two-year term in Poquott. File photo

Incumbent Mayor Dolores “Dee” Parrish defeated challenger Barbara Donovan in her bid for a second term at the helm of Poquott Village on Election Day Tuesday.

Parrish did not appear on the ballot after a state Supreme Court judge ruled in favor of a lawsuit, brought about in part by Donovan, that claimed there were errors in her nominating petition, yet she received 239 write-in votes. Donovan received 190 votes. The race was a rematch of the 2014 election, which saw Parrish unseat Donovan, who was a 12-year incumbent.

Fifteen-year village resident Michael Schaefer and member of Poquott’s planning board captured one of the trustee seats up for election, while small business owner and lifelong Three Village resident John Mastauskas grabbed the other. Schaefer campaigned with Donovan and former Village Clerk Joan Hubbard as a member of the Party of Unity and Respect. Mastauskas, like Parrish and trustee candidates Gary Garofano and Sandra Nicoletti, was forced to pursue election as a write-in candidate.

Schaefer and Mastauskas received 205 and 198 votes, respectively. Hubbard finished third with 187 votes. Nicoletti’s name was written in 149 times, and Garofano’s 82.

None of the seven candidates could be reached for comment by press time Wednesday.

Lawsuits, allegations, closed-door meetings and hard feelings highlighted the campaign in the buildup to Tuesday’s vote. Parrish reached out to voters on the eve of the election Monday night in a nearly 2,000-word email.

“I will continue to improve the beaches and parks, and I will continue to run quality community events for all ages,” Parrish said. “My thoughts are that if beaches and parks are beautiful, safe and remain pet-friendly, people will come out to enjoy them. Physically bringing people together is the first step toward quenching the fires sparked by the few at the expense of the many.”

Mayoral candidate Barbara Donovan with trustees Michael Schaefer and Joan Hubbard. Photo from Unity and Respect Party

Dear Poquott Village residents,

As most of you know, I was mayor of the Village of Poquott for 12 years and I’m running again. I believe in fiscal and environmental responsibility and transparency at all government levels. I want to spend the next two years getting the job done. I will work within the parameters of the law to do the right thing. I have always respect residents, whether homeowners or renters, and have valued their input.

I’ve lived in Poquott for 44 years. My late husband’s family arrived in the 1890’s and purchased property in the original Bayview Park area. They were involved in the incorporation of the Vilage of Poquott in the 1930s.

I’m a 28-year member of the Setauket Fire Department, having served as a firefighter, EMT, and now as fire police/peace officer. I am also a member of the Poquott Civic Association and many other community organizations. As you can see, I love this community and have “walked the walk” to make Poquott the best it can be.

I’m now retired, but have 30 years of experience in marketing, development and public relations. Budgets were and are my specialty.

As mayor, I consistently attended New York State mayors conferences, planning board and zoning board of appeals workshops and other county and town informational sessions to keep myself current on the latest updates and changes in all local, state and federal laws and mandates.

My door was always open and my personal phone accessible. Residents were welcome to use village hall at any time when village business was not being conducted. All meetings were held in the open and residents were encouraged to attend and comment without fear of repercussions.

When re-elected, these principles will be reinstated immediately. I am, and have always been, committed to courteous and respectful interactions with everyone. I expect the same behavior from all members of my board. The Unity and Respect Party promises to bring back the quality of life that all residents — homeowners and renters alike — have come to expect.

I hope the Unity and Respect Party candidates, trustees Michael Schaefer and Joan Hubbard, and I as mayor, can count on your vote on Tuesday, June 21 at village hall from noon to 9 p.m.

Thank you for your support.

Barbara Donovan, candidate for mayor of the Village of Poquott

The Incorporated Village of Poquott. File photo

It is now known whose names will appear on the ballot for Village of Poquott residents when they head to the polls to elect a mayor and two board trustees on June 21.

State Supreme Court Justice W. Gerard Asher ruled Wednesday on the challenge filed by mayoral candidate Barbara Donovan and her running mates Michael Schaefer and Joan Hubbard of the validity of petitions submitted by incumbent mayor Dee Parrish and trustee hopefuls Gary Garofano, Sandy Nicoletti and John Mastauskas.

Justice Asher found in favor of Donovan and her party, according to the state Supreme Court office. Parrish, Garofano, Nicoletti and Mastauskas will not appear on the ballot.

Donovan, Schaefer and Hubbard, known as the party of “Unity and Respect,” filed the challenge to the petitions because they believed the petitions contained errors, and names and signatures submitted may have been photocopied, Donovan told Newsday in May.

Since the challenges were filed, tension has spread within the tiny community that falls within the Town of Brookhaven. On June 1, Parrish and the rest of the current board, which includes Nicoletti, called an emergency meeting to discuss what action they would take in response to the challenge filed by Donovan and her party. Donovan served as the village’s mayor for years until Parrish defeated her in the 2014 election.

At the beginning of the meeting, the board immediately moved into executive session behind closed doors, leaving community members frustrated and searching for clarity.

When they returned, the board briefly discussed their options regarding the challenge, before voting to allow for additional expenses incurred as a result of the suit against the village and Village Clerk Joe Newfield regarding the petitions to be covered. The meeting was adjourned and no public comment was allowed. Parrish and Village Attorney Joe Prokop declined to comment about the situation after the meeting.

Parrish commented on the legal battle on June 2 via email.

“It is unfortunate that a group that has based their platform on respect and unity has managed to disrespect the residents in the Village of Poquott through the filing of this suit,” she said.

Parrish sited a possible chilling effect that the suit could have on potential candidates in the future as a harmful precedent for the village to set.

Village resident John Hahm, unsatisfied with the outcome of the June 1 meeting submitted a letter to the Village Times Herald on June 2.

“Challenging petitions is not a political strategy, it is a demand for accountability when a person deliberately disregards the law,” Hahm said. “Two of the petitioners happen to be current board members who promised open and transparent government. Surely they could have produced their petitions before acknowledging that the challenges were detrimental to the spirit of an election.”

Robert Lifson, attorney for Parrish and her running mates said Wednesday in a phone interview he was “disappointed” by the ruling. He wouldn’t specify his clients’ plan of action going forward, but suggested an appeal was possible. Lifson also said it’s not beyond the realm of possibilities to win a village election without being on the ballot. He said he advised his clients to drop their defense prior to the ruling because the costs to fight the suit would be too great.