Democratic Committee Tap Bragman to Fill Out Slate
By Kathryn G. Menu
A screening committee for East Hampton Democrats announced this week it supports the candidacy of attorney Jeffrey Bragman and incumbent Kathee Burke-Gonzalez for town board in this fall’s election. Councilman Peter Van Scoyoc has been tapped to run for town supervisor, with incumbent Larry Cantwell having already announced that he will not seek another term at the helm of the town board.
The screening committee’s decision, which was announced on Monday, has the potential to spark a primary race, with Zachary Cohen saying he will continue to seek the Democratic Party’s support to run for town board, either at the Democratic Committee’s nominating convention on May 17 or in a primary election.
Mr. Cohen ran an unsuccessful campaign against Republican Bill Wilkinson for town supervisor in 2011, and in early April announced his intentions to run for town board this year.
“By law, the decision as to the party’s candidate does not lie either with the party committee or with its screening subcommittee, but with the party membership,” said Mr. Cohen, who announced his candidacy in early April, in a statement released this week. “All party members stand on a completely equal footing in a primary election. Selection by the local committee affords no privilege or preferred status. I look forward to a fresh, exciting, and vigorous primary campaign that speaks to the issues of concern to all East Hampton voters.”
On Wednesday, Mr. Bragman said he was grateful for the screening committee’s support, although acknowledged, “a lot can happen before November.”
“I am very focused on the environment because I believe good planning and environmental protection is good business and is the foundation of our economy,” Mr. Bragman said about his reason to screen for town board.
“Having worked so long in front of boards and trying to fight for environmental protection, it finally occurred to me that same skillset may be a good fit in decision making,” he added. Mr. Bragman, whose law practice is based in East Hampton, said much of his work occurs outside of the town. If elected, he said he would no longer represent clients in applications before the town’s regulatory boards.
In addition to Ms. Burke-Gonzalez, Mr. Bragman and Mr. Van Scoyoc, the screening committee has also offered its support for four incumbents — town clerk Carole Brennan, Superintendent of Highways Steve Lynch, Town Justice Steven Tekulsky and Town Assessor Eugene DePasquale — in November’s election.
Incumbent trustees Bill Taylor, Francis Bock, Rick Drew, Tyler Armstrong and Brian Byrnes have also earned the support of the selection committee, along with newcomers John Aldred, Dell Cullum, Susan McGraw Keber and Francesca Rheannon.
“This year was amazing and I have to believe it has something to do with people’s outrage about the current president and the state of affairs nationally,” said Democratic Party co-chair Jeanne Frankl. “We had 10 qualified candidates interview for the Town Council positions and only two spots to fill. Our interviews and deliberations have taken over two months but we are extremely happy with the outcome and believe we have qualified, experienced people who know the issues and know how to formulate policies to deal with those issues.”
The party’s nominating convention will be held on May 17 at 7 p.m. at St. Michael’s Lutheran Church in Amagansett.
In other election news, the Republican Party in East Hampton on Monday announced Susan Vorpahl, the daughter of Mary and the late Stuart Vorpahl, will be a Republican candidate for trustee this November. A full slate of trustee candidates will be officially named at the next meeting of that committee on May 10. Manny Vilar has already been tapped to run for supervisor on the Republican Party line, along with town board candidates Paul Giardina and Jerry Larsen.