Councilman Lys Declares Candidacy for Special Town Board Election

Kim Lys introducing his son, David, left, while the Lys family, East Hampton Town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc and other members of the East Hampton Town Board look on. Gavin Menu photo

East Hampton Town Councilman David Lys, who was appointed in January to fill the town board seat vacated when Peter Van Scoyoc was elected supervisor, on Sunday declared his intent to formally run to retain his seat come Election Day this November.

Reached by phone Monday, Mr. Lys said he was inspired to run for his first elected term by his love for his hometown of East Hampton.

“I think what motivates me is making sure my hometown is as beautiful and wonderful for my kids, and for my grandkids, as it was when I grew up,” he said. “I think I have the knowledge base and I have the passion.”

His seat will be the only town board post up for election this November, and it will be for a one-year term — the remainder of the time Mr. Van Scoyoc was to serve as a councilman.

Mr. Lys is a Springs resident who was a co-founder of the group Citizens for Access Rights. He is also chairman of the Amagansett Lifesaving and Coast Guard Station Society, and spearheaded the restoration of that building on Atlantic Avenue in Amagansett. Mr. Lys had also been a member of the East Hampton Zoning Board of Appeals since 2013, resigning the week before he was sworn in as a member of the town council. He and his wife, Dr. Rachel Lys, have four children and own East Hampton Physical Therapy and Weekend Warrior Tours and Outfitters.

On Sunday, with his family and his town board colleagues at his side, Mr. Lys made the announcement at the Montauket restaurant and bar on Fort Pond Bay in Montauk. He referenced the bay in remarks that reflected his pride in his hometown.

“In 1648, East Hampton’s colonial forefathers came to the East End with dreams and saw a vision,” he said. “They saw a place and a new world that was complete with natural beauty, environmental purity and full of bounties from both the land and the sea. They saw a new home where they would be able to lay down roots and work hard, fulfill their commitments to their families and provide a safe and productive home. Three hundred seventy years later, I still see those same visions in my birthplace and hometown of East Hampton.

“I look across the bay behind me and across the lands that encompass this slice of heaven that I am fortunate enough to call my hometown. I look across the bay behind me and see the lands that are ever changing, but still have all the same qualities our forefathers once saw. I look across the bay behind me and in front of me I see the residents, friends, that have committed to each other and our town of East Hampton to provide a safe and productive home for our families as the generations before us once did.”

Mr. Lys acknowledged there may be a primary race for the town board seat, with some conflict currently dividing the membership of the East Hampton Town Democratic Committee. This week, its current chairperson, Jeanne Frankl, said no matter what, “Our screening and our convention will be absolutely fair, and will give everyone a chance. All the people who come to screen before us will be heard with the same attention and fairness and open-mindedness that we give to David Lys.”

Mr. Lys said he is committed to running for town board “one way or another,” whether he screens as a Democrat or finds another avenue.

When he was appointed in January, Mr. Lys had recently changed his party affiliation from Republican to Democrat, and his appointment to the board was not unanimous, with newly elected councilman Jeff Bragman voting “no.” Ms. Frankl said she believed Mr. Lys has since won many people over.

“We’ve discovered, since he was appointed to the vacancy on the board, that he is a very articulate, thoughtful and hardworking councilman, and both the style and the substance of his talk repeated that characteristic on Sunday,” she said.

On Tuesday, Amos Goodman, chairman of the East Hampton Town Republicans, said there is a possibility that his committee would support Mr. Lys in November’s election but that it would vigorously screen other candidates as well. Mr. Goodman said he liked Mr. Lys for his “generational perspective” and for his experience as a small business owner and community volunteer.

“I’m trying to figure out exactly what makes the most sense,” Mr. Goodman said. “Because it’s a year term and the person who wins this will have to seek reelection the next year for a full four-year term, I think it’s critical for the party to demonstrate, to win, to pick up a seat in a serious way and create the kind of momentum we need going into 2019. David might be part of this, he might not. There are a lot of factors in play.”