For the first time in what seems like forever, a Democrat has achieved leadership status as a chairwoman. Patty Staddord was named the first blue official in Smithtown office in over a decade since councilwoman Patricia Biancancello, who served from 2005 to 2009. While it may seem that she has her work cut out for her, the thought-to-be impossible dramatic shift in party-standings in such a firmly red ground may indicate otherwise. Finally, Smithtown may be able to govern under a more all-seeing standpoint.
However, that’s not to say Staddord has an easy going in earning her spot. The 69 year-old former union leader, math teacher, and Nesconset native has remarkably gone against the odds in winning townwide office, as races for the Board of Education in 2017, 2019, and 2021 had Democrats running far behind by up to 50 votes. This could, perhaps, be attributed to the fact that Democrats are apt to not even attempt running for office in such a historically Republican/Conservrative town. “We do have some great candidates, but it’s hard to get Democrats to run in Smithtown. People are discouraged,” Staddord said in an interview.
In spite of being somewhat of an underdog, she is still remaining hopeful that change will ensue with a more diverse array of candidates party-wise. Furthermore, it seems officials on the opposite side are also open to working with colleagues whose views don’t exactly align with their own. Town Supervisor Ed Wehrheim, elected in 2017, says he would “happily work with any Democrats elected to office.” If elected officials are able to get down to business without dispute amongst party lines, that is great news for all of us in Smithtown.