“Cautiously optimistic” was the term being bandied about as the East Hampton Republican faithful gathered Tuesday night at Indian Wells Tavern in Amagansett to await the results of the town elections.
But with no supervisor candidate to anchor their ticket and a Democratic town board majority a sure thing, party members seemed resigned to the fact that they were fighting an uphill battle as they crowded around the bar and strained to see results that were constantly being updated on a large screen set up in the corner.
Still, by 10:30 p.m., when it became apparent that Town Clerk Fred Overton, who was running for one of two open seats on the town board, and seven trustee incumbents, would be the party’s only apparent winners in contested races, the mood was decidedly upbeat among a core group of about 50 people who remained to listen to Mr. Overton give a short victory speech.
The newly elected town board member thanked his supporters, offering special praise for Tina Piette, an attorney and Republican activist who managed his campaign, and had him focus on “people before politics,” and promised to serve the people who had entrusted him with their votes.
Unofficial results provided by the Suffolk County Board of Elections Tuesday night had him as the leading vote-getter among the four town board candidates to join the Democrat Kathee Burke-Gonzalez and the unopposed Democratic supervisor candidate, Larry Cantwell, on the board, Mr. Overton admitted that coming into Election Day, he thought his chances were good.
“I thought I would do well, probably come in second,” he said. “But I didn’t think I would be at the top of the board.”
After 25 years of service as a trustee, assessor, and finally town clerk, Mr. Overton said he thought voters realized that he was the kind of candidate who would keep their best interests at heart and bring a valuable level of institutional knowledge to the board.
Mr. Overton, a veteran of many election nights who had announced his retirement as town clerk, said this election was different for him. The decision being made by voters would not determine his livelihood, but whether he would be allowed to serve the community in a new position he had sought for different reasons.
Councilman Dominick Stanzione, who was hoping for a second term, sat at a corner booth nibbling on some fried food as the first district results began to come in.
“I never take these things for granted,” said a nervous Tim Bock who won his sixth term as a trustee.
Elaine Jones, the chairwoman of the East Hampton Independence Party, which had endorsed both Mr. Overton and Mr. Stanzione, and Pat Mansir, a former East Hampton Town councilwoman, arrived with results from two voting districts. On the sidewalk outside Indian Wells Tavern, Ms. Jones predicted a close race.
Cheryl Bloecker, whose husband, Joe Bloecker, ultimately lost his bid for town assessor against Eugene DePasquale, the Democratic incumbent, arrived and peered through the tavern’s front window at the screen where results were being posted.
“What’s there to write about?” asked Mr. Stanzione, when asked for his thoughts on the election.
When it became apparent that he was the loser in a four-way race, Mr. Stanzione offered his congratulations to the victors and made his way outdoors, where he was consoled by two wellwishers.
“I’m really mad,” said a woman.
“I’d like to thank you for the work you did,” added her husband.
Mr. Stanzione, who found himself in the crosshairs of Democrats as the only Republican seeking election on what has become a fractious town board, declined to comment on the outcome. “I think that’s most appropriate,” he said.
Conspicuous by their absence were Mr. Stanzione’s Republican colleagues on the board, Supervisor Bill Wilkinson and Councilwoman Therese Quigley, neither of whom sought re-election this year.
Carl Irace, who ran a hard campaign for town justice only to be defeated handily by Steven Tekulsky, stood in the dining room, away from the crowd, looking stunned as family and friends consoled him.
Mr. Irace insisted that he was not disappointed that his hard work had failed to pay off. “It was an awesome race. I got to meet so many great people,” he said. “When you enter a contest you have to give it your best shot and hope to win.”
Mr. Bloecker, who sat at a front table, tabulating results with Bill Sagel and Bob Pease, rose quickly and made his way to a table in the back of the restaurant when the first results came in showing that he had lost to Mr. DePasquale in Montauk, where both men live.
“It’s not looking good,” he told Mr. Stanzione and Trace Duryea, a former town Republican chairwoman.
When asked about his prospects, he said. “It’s going to be settled in the rest of the town.”
As Mr. DePasquale’s margin continued to grow, Mr. Bloecker and his wife called it an early night.