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Gunther Ousts Naughton 

Centerport’s Pete Gunther edged 25-year Highway Superintendent William Naughton by just under 1,000 votes.

While Democrats swept policy-making posts in Tuesday’s election, the one they didn’t win might have been the most surprising of all.

Conservative Pete Gunther of Centerport unseated Highway Superintendent William Naughton, who was first elected to the post in 1987, according to unofficial results.

Gunther captured 18,402 votes, or 51.3 percent, to Naughton’s 17,442 votes, or 48.62 percent.

“Everybody worked hard. I appreciate it. I promise not to let you down as your highway superintendent,” Gunther told supporters Tuesday.

Until now, Naughton had proven to be a political survivor. A maverick Democrat who has clashed with the Town Hall establishment, Naughton beat back a double primary challenge this September, and last year staved off an effort championed by Supervisor Frank Petrone and Councilman Mark Cuthbertson to consolidate the highway office into a public works department and eliminate the elected superintendent of highways post.

Naughton said he is waiting for the Suffolk County Board of Elections to verify the results before conceding, and is holding out on a glimmer of hope for a dramatic shift.

“It won’t be verified until next week. We’ll see what comes out of that, in case there’s any mistakes,” he said. “Let’s see what happens.”

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