David Lys Appointed To Town Board, Despite Objection

David Lys was sworn in last week and will fill what was an empty seat on the East Hampton Town Board. Gavin Menu photo

By Stephen J. Kotz

The East Hampton Town Board on Thursday appointed David Lys, a Springs businessman, civic activist and member of the town’s Zoning Board of Appeals, to fill the seat left vacant when Peter Van Scoyoc was elected supervisor in November.

The 3-1 vote, which gives Democrats all five seats on the board, came over the objection of newly elected Democratic Councilman Jeffrey Bragman, who cited a number of concerns about Mr. Lys’s appointment in a brief statement before voting.

Noting differences on the hot-button issue of East Hampton Airport, the role of the town in helping the federal government enforce immigration law and the proper use of zoning as a tool to preserve the town’s character while making it easier for families to stay in town, Mr. Bragman said he and Mr. Lys were not always “on the same page.”

“I say this knowing that David is a guy of great character and a great family,” Mr. Bragman added. “But these are issues that were very important to me when I ran, and I feel I have to vote in accordance with the things I said when I ran and in accordance with the things I’d like to do in the next years.”

After being sworn in, David Lys took his seat on the town board.

“I may be the last to vote on the nomination, but I still can be the first to say welcome to David Lys,” he added, after casting his vote. “I’m hopeful that as we get to know each other better, the things that we share, the values that we share, particularly to protect the town we love, are going to be much more important than the things we differ on, so welcome to you.”

On Monday, Mr. Bragman stressed that he had no personal animosity toward Mr. Lys, but that they differed starkly over matters of policy. He declined to discuss the matter further, saying his statement spoke for itself.

Mr. Lys said he did not take Mr. Bragman’s opposition personally. “It’s democracy at work,” he said. “On good boards — and I’ve sat on other boards in the past — differences of opinions make one another learn.” He acknowledged that he and Mr. Bragman had discussed a number of different issues, the three cited by Mr. Bragman, and said he looked forward to discussing them further to learn more about the issues facing the town and refining his own positons.

The new town board member, who at 41 is one of the youngest board members to serve in decades, said he looked forward to representing a new generation of town residents. “At the swearing in, a lot of friends brought their kids down. It’s difficult for working class families to take the time and participate in local government,” he said. “It’s a potential demographic that really hasn’t been represented yet.”

But he added as new board member he knows he has much to learn. “If you listen to everyone and do your homework, then you can make good, informed decisions,” he said.

Mr. Lys was a lifelong Republican who said he only recently changed his registration to Democrat after discussing the opening on the town board.

“I’ve never been a political party person,” he said. “When I initially registered, I listened to my hero, who is my immigrant father, when I was 18 and registered as a Republican. But I’m a grownup now, and the values I have developed align themselves more with the Democrats.”

Mr. Lys’s appointment is for one year. He said he planned run in a special election next November for the last two years remaining on Mr. Van Scoyoc’s term. “I’m in,” he said. “I’m looking forward to the special election and the next election, too.”

A kinesiologist and owner with his wife, Rachel Lys, of East Hampton Physical Therapy and Weekend Warrior Tours and Outfitters, Mr. Lys is also chairman of the Amagansett Lifesaving and Coast Guard Station Society and a founder of Citizens for Access Rights, or CfAR, a group that was organized to oppose efforts to shut off some ocean beaches in Amagansett to vehicular access. The couple has four children.

He had served on the town Zoning Board of Appeals since 2013, resigning last week just before joining the town board.