Fifty-eight percent of the East Quogue residents that came out to vote Thursday opposed incorporation.
Southampton Town Clerk Sundy Schermeyer announced October 17 that, of the 44 percent of the eligible-voter population that came out to the polls, 642 cast their ballots for incorporation, while 889 were against.
“Our opponents had an easier time selling an undocumented fear than we had trying to sell a thoroughly-documented, verified set of facts to support incorporation,” said East Quogue Village Exploratory Committee co-chair Karen Kooi, reading from a prepared statement. “We’re saddened by the outcome, but we’re very proud of everyone who came out to vote and we respect the outcome.”
Elizabeth Jackson, a community member opposed to incorporating, was “relieved.”
“We have pride in our community and we didn’t see a reason why we needed to completely turn the fruit basket upside down,” she said. “The fact that people weren’t able to be engaged as much as they should have been able to be — as far as bringing together thoughts and comments — that to me was a travesty I couldn’t let happen.”
Both sides, though, were thrilled to see the turnout.
“We’re very happy to see that so many in the community got to have their voices heard,” Kooi said. “We accomplished what we set out to do. We wanted to give the East Quogue community a choice.”
Jackson said she was so strongly opposed to the idea of becoming a village because of what she felt was the spreading of misinformation and a lack of inclusion.
“Nothing was set in stone, and the way the conversation was being had was very deceptive,” she said. “If we had a two-way conversation we could have brought up details and things, but we never got that opportunity in front of the community. The fact that it started off as 12 people pissed off by one ruling, and they’ve admitted, said that a couple of times, that that was what this was built on, wasn’t a very organic way to establish an entire village.”
The committee has to wait a year before attempting to bring the proposal back up for vote. Kooi said the group hasn’t thought that far ahead, saying, “We have not looked into that yet. We needed to get through today.”
Jackson said she’s always thought Southampton Town had East Quogue’s best interests in mind, and added if there are those who don’t feel that way, she thinks they should attempt to run for a seat on the town board.
“You don’t get your way all the time, any time you want it, but if we go to the town we get heard. The town has been putting in a lot of effort, even making sure that Discovery Land, if The Hills project were to get approved, it’s done in a way that’s appropriate and to the code. That’s all we’ve asked for, really, to start with,” Jackson said. “For them to say everything with the proposal has been a doomsday scenario was disappointing. I think anyone that has wanted to have a say has been able to, and if people are really wanting change they can continue to go to meetings and try to get a position on the board like we’ve always been allowed to do.”