The Suffolk County Libertarian Party has cross endorsed Democrats in Southold Town and the Republican supervisor in Riverhead Town. However, it still remains to be seen whether any Libertarian makes it onto the next election ballot.
William Van Helmond of Jamesport, who is both chair of the county group and a Libertarian candidate for Riverhead highway superintendent, said the cross endorsements often were decided based on who screened with the party.
“Not all the parties reached out to us from the cross endorsement,” he said.
In Southold Town, the Republicans did not screen and the Democrats did.
Thus, the county Libertarians are cross endorsing Southold Democrats Greg Doroski and Brian Mealy for Town Board, Dan Goodwin for highway superintendent and Eric Sepenoski, Liz Gillooly and Elizabeth Peeples for Town Trustee.
In Riverhead, Mr. Van Helmond said, Democratic supervisor candidate Catherine Kent did not screen, but incumbent Republican Yvette Aguiar did.
None of the other Riverhead candidates on either side seeking any position screened with Libertarians, he said.
“We’re not tied to a political party,” Mr. Van Helmond said. “We’re looking for Libertarian values in the candidates we endorse.”
Southold Republican committee chair Peter McGreevy said he confirmed with Republican Board of Elections Commissioner Nick LaLota that while there may be some people registered to the Libertarian “party,” they do not have permanent ballot access or a state-recognized committee structure.
Mr. McGreevy said “the designating petitions that the so-called Libertarian ‘party’ filed this week were ruled facially invalid by the bipartisan Suffolk County Board of Elections. Therefore, there will be no Libertarian party line on the ballot.”
A Board of Elections representative confirmed that the only parties with an automatic spot on the ballot are Republicans, Democrats, Conservatives and the Working Family parties.
Several other parties, including the Libertarians, have lost their position on the ballot due to higher thresholds established by the state.
As part of the 2021 state budget, the number of votes needed for minor parties needed to retain their status on the ballot was drastically increased. The number of votes needed in governor’s race was increased from 50,000 to 130,000, and that threshold was extended to also include the presidential race as well.
The state Libertarian party and the Green Party filed a federal lawsuit last year challenging the higher thresholds. Those parties, along with the Independence party and the Serving America Movement party, lost their place on the ballots statewide, and must gather the additional votes to get a candidate on the ballot.
Mr. Van Helmond said the Libertarians “feel pretty confident” they will prevail in the court case.
“Worst case scenario, our candidates will need to get a lot more signatures,” he said.
The Libertarians favor minimal government. Mr. Van Helmond said they even have a “libertarian questionnaire” that they require candidates to complete while screening. And usually, he added, everyone scores high.
“Most people are Libertarians; they just don’t know it,” he said.
Mr. Van Helmond, a former president of the Greater Jamesport Civic Association and the owner of a landscaping business, has run for office before, but has not won. He ran for state Assembly as a Libertarian in 2020, Town Board as a Libertarian in 2019 and highway superintendent in 2017, when he was initially the Republican nominee but stepped down, only to return later as a write-in candidate.
He has served with numerous organizations, including the Riverhead Chamber of Commerce, the Vail-Leavitt Music Hall board of directors and the board of the Riverhead 225th birthday committee, and is also a member of the New York State Main Road Committee and EPCAL Watch.
Longtime Highway Superintendent George Woodson, a Democrat, is not seeking reelection this year. The Republicans have nominated Mike Zaleski and the Democrats have nominated William “JR” Renten. Both are highway department employees and Mr. Zaleski was Mr. Woodson’s deputy.
Editor’s Note: This story was updated with additional information to reflect how the Libertarian party is no longer guaranteed a spot on the ballot.