- In her first act as a Southampton Town Board member, the newly elected Sally Pope made a pitch to change her title - from councilman to councilwoman. "It was with great surprise that I found out I was actually running for the position of 'councilman,'" Pope recalled, referring to her recent campaign.
According to a resolution sponsored by Town Supervisor Linda Kabot
regarding the change, the term councilman appears as the position's formal title on both voting and absentee ballots, as well as on the official certificates of election given to race winners by the Board of Elections.
"At least the certificates could say something other than councilman," asserted Kabot, who, along with Pope and Councilwomen Anna Throne-Holst
and Nancy Graboski
, hold a certificate bearing that title. The town board would recommend a more "gender-neutral title," such as councilperson or council member, to be "more in keeping with equality issues."
This move to petition the state to make the name change comes at a historic point for the town board. With the addition of Pope, the board now consists of four female council members and only one male, Councilman Christopher Nuzzi
, for the first time ever.
"It is a significant and important moment in history," said Nuzzi, when asked how it felt to be the sole male member of the board. The councilman said that he fully supports Pope's suggestion for the name change, adding that it "makes sense."
Town Counciman Chris Nuzzi, pictured here flanked by female board members, said the four female board is something the whole town should be proud of.
By a unanimous vote, the board charged Town Attorney Dan Adams to gather more information on the legalese of the situation, and how to go about presenting it to the proper state and county officials. Copies of the resolution were sent to Gov. David Paterson
, State Senator Ken LaValle
, and State Assemblyman Fred Thiele
, as well as town supervisors in both Suffolk and Nassau counties, the state and county Boards of Election and the League of Women Voters of the Hamptons
If accepted, the name change will simply be a symbolic one, as the term councilman encompasses both male and female local officials under state law. Until then, the Southampton town board will continue to operate with five councilmen, even if only one of them is male.
"When you're elected to a particular position, you'd think it should be gender appropriate," offered Nuzzi. According to the board member, the historic four-female member board is "something we should be proud of."