By Raymond Janis & Aidan Johnson
In a historic upset, trustee Lauren Sheprow — a write-in candidate — was elected Village of Port Jefferson mayor Tuesday night, June 20, capping off a contentious season in the village.
In a contested race to succeed Mayor Margot Garant, who is running for Town of Brookhaven supervisor, Sheprow defeated Deputy Mayor Kathianne Snaden 956-796.
Incumbent trustee Stan Loucks and former village clerk Bob Juliano were elected with 935 and 1,244 votes, respectively, in an uncontested race. Voters also elected Tara Higgins as village justice with 1,381 votes.
Sheprow announced her bid for mayor in March, running on a platform of change and pledging to move the village in a new direction.
Her campaign hit an unexpected stumbling block on May 30, just three weeks before Election Day, when the Suffolk County Board of Elections removed her name from the ballot due to faults in her petitions after charges brought on by Snaden’s campaign.
‘Our Village Hall is now open to all residents.’
— Lauren Sheprow
Despite the unfavorable Suffolk BOE decision, Sheprow became a write-in candidate. In an interview, the mayor-elect commented on the race’s conclusion.
“It was an uphill climb all the way, but the determination of my supporters and the residents themselves made it possible to overcome every challenge,” she said. “I also want to congratulate Kathianne Snaden for a spirited race. I know we both want the best for Port Jefferson and its future.”
She added, “I’m humbled and honored by the unwavering support and the positive feedback I received from all the residents I met with throughout the village during this whole process.”
Before entering the board last year, Sheprow had worked as a media relations professional at Stony Brook University and Mather Hospital. Her father, Harold, had served as village mayor from 1977-85 and 1987-91.
Sheprow also congratulated the newly elected trustees and village justice, expressing optimism and pledging to follow the public will.
“I look forward to working with this board … to make positive change and a fresh start for Port Jefferson,” she said, adding, “Our Village Hall is now open to all residents. Whether you voted for me or not, I am listening.”
In a separate interview, Garant thanked the community for entrusting her throughout her 14 years at the helm. “I think I’ve done my job, and I’ve left this community in a good spot,” the outgoing mayor said. “I just hope for the base to know to keep it going forward.”
After four years of service on the Board of Trustees, Snaden’s tenure now ends as the deputy mayor had vacated her trustee seat to run for mayor. In the wake of the election result, Snaden released a statement expressing her gratitude for those who supported her campaign.
“While I may not have won this election, I am grateful for the opportunity to have shared my vision for the future of this village,” she said. “I believe that together, we can continue to make this village an even better place to live, work and raise a family.”
She added that she would remain involved, saying:
“To the Port Jefferson community, I want to say that I will continue to be a voice for positive change and progress. I will continue to work to ensure that this village remains a wonderful place to call home. I will continue to be an advocate for our community, and I will work to build bridges and bring people together.”
Loucks, who has been on the board since 2015, ran alongside Snaden on the Unity Party ticket. While thanking the community for its vote of confidence in him, he expressed sympathy for his running mate.
“I think the village lost a very valuable person with Kathianne Snaden,” he said. “But congratulations, I guess, to the opponent.”
Outside of the uncontested Higgins, Juliano received the highest vote count of any candidate. In a phone interview, the first-time elected official thanked the community for its strong support.
“I am humbled by the support and encouragement that I have been getting from everyone,” he said. “I promise to do my best and make Port Jefferson a better place for us all,” adding, “I’m looking forward to sitting down with all the new board members and discussing where we want to see Port Jefferson head.”
The current board will convene for one final meeting this Monday, June 26, at 3:30 p.m. The new mayor and trustees will swear into office outside Village Hall on July 4 following the annual parade.