By LIZ BUTTON
Rye Golf Club members Mack Cunningham, Leon Sculti and John Duffy were elected to the three open seats on the Rye Golf Club Commission, according to election results released on Monday.
Of 2,220 possible voters, 490 members casts votes in the election, or 22.1 percent of the total eligible membership. Each voter was allowed to choose three candidates from seven running for a seat on the commission. Candidates are elected to the commission to a three-year term.
Cunningham, a former city councilman, won big receiving 65.7 percent of the vote with 322 votes, while Sculti received 272 votes, or 55.5 percent of the vote, and current commission chairman Duffy was re-elected to his seat with 212 votes, or 43.4 percent of the total vote.
But turnout was not as high as had been anticiapted by some in golf club circles.
The fourth highest vote getter was commissioner Angela Sposato, who received 199 votes, or 40.6 percent of the vote, narrowly missing out on reclaiming her seat on the board. Sposato, who was elected to the seat just last year, was followed by candidates Akhil Kumar with 168 votes, Bob DiMaggio with 118, and Barry McGowan with 72.
The newly-elected commission members are sworn in at the beginning of 2014.
Cunningham thanked the candidates, club members, club staff members and the commission for their dedication to the club.
“If everyone works hard: the members, the commission, and with cooperative support from City Hall, the club will again be a community recreational jewel,” he said.
Cunningham said he will not know until he is sworn in in January whether the newly formulated commission will be an effective crew in turning the club around. A lot of hard work is required first before this becomes clear, he said.
“Everybody’s got to be on the same page, which is why I emphasize cooperative support from City Hall. Once we get beyond this, we can get back to business,” he said.
The election results—voting ran from Aug. 29 to Sept. 8—were certified by automated tabulation system Simply Voting to show that they were securely counted.
T.J. Hanson, a member of the golf club’s nominating committee, said he forwarded the tabulated results to City Manager Scott Pickup on Sept. 9. Pickup then authorized the announcement of the winners. The City Council will approve the election results at the Oct. 9 council meeting, but this is a formality, Hanson said, as the council approves all appointments to city commissions.
The 2013 election is the second time voting was done online. The city clerk used to collect and count paper ballots, but the method was changed after the 2011 commission election, when multiple ballots were stuffed into single envelopes, disqualifying a significant portion of the results.
Sculti said there will be a learning curve for the newly formulated commission, but, in the future, commission members will need to make it their mission to “change the culture,” mainly in the way the commission views its own position when it comes to positively influencing club operations.
Commission members need to stand up for what club members want, understanding that what is in the city’s best interest is not necessarily in the club’s best interest, Sculti said. This year, though, it was obvious the voting membership was looking to elect commissioners who could be vocal about these types of concerns, said Sculti.
“It’s obvious the members want a strong representation. They picked three strong candidates that showed willingness to stand up to the administration at different points,” he said.
This was the first golf club election since revelations surfaced in October 2012 of a high-profile financial scandal involving the club’s former general manager Scott Yandrasevich, who, over a six-year period, allegedly bilked club members out of hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of membership dues, through shell staffing companies he created.
Obviously, since the stakes for the election were so high, a high turnout was expected this year, but, according to Hanson, this did not actually materialize.
“Numerically, I was a little disappointed in the absolute percentage of turnout,” said Hanson, who was tasked with publicizing and running the election.
Last year, the turnout was 20.5 percent—when 434 members voted out of 2,113 electors—versus 22.1 percent the year after the scandal broke.
“Given the issues over the last year, I would have thought the turnout would have been a little bit better, but I’m happy. The folks that ran were fantastic; they all had some great ideas,” Hanson said.
Duffy could not be reached for comment as of press time.