The East Hampton Town Republican Party knows it has an uphill fight to regain seats on, or control of, the East Hampton Town Board, but its three candidates this year hope their experience and deep ties to the local community will be enough to carry them into office.
Ken Walles, who is running at the top of the GOP ticket to challenge Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc — or his likely Democratic Party primary challenger Councilman Jeff Bragman — owned and operated the venerable Oceanside Beach Resort in Montauk from 1999 to 2016 and had a long career in the hotel industry previously.
Mr. Walles is a former president of the Long Island Hospitality & Leisure Association and president of Skas International, an international travel and tourism industry network.
“Management is my expertise,” Mr. Walles said this week. “I have always seen the town as in need of strong management expertise by someone who is straightforward and honest because the supervisor is managing the assets of the people.”
While Mr. Walles’s experience in the private sector, and Montauk’s largest industry, his running mate George Aman looks to his deep experience in the public sector as the foundation for new public office. He was a school administrator for more than 40 years, including 10 years as the superintendent of the Amagansett School District. He also served one term on the East Hampton Town School Board, from 2010 to 2013.
“Since I retired, I have tried in a variety of ways to give back to the community: tutoring, serving in the fire police, running the summer gifted and talented program, I served meals on wheels for several years and I served on the school board for three years as its president in my third year,” Mr. Aman said. “I think my perspective as an educator and my fair attitude about various things going on in the town would make me a good board member and perhaps I could bring a perspective to the board that isn’t there at the present time.”
Joe Karpinski, the GOP’s nominee for the other of two council seats that are on the ballot says he brings the understanding of a working-class family man with young children to the race and says that his focus is on environmental issues and the needs of local fishermen and senior citizens. Mr. Karpinski works at a tree care company, lives in Amagansett and is a longtime volunteer with the Amagansett Fire Department, for which he is the former captain of the ambulance squad.
“Election after election, we hear there is going to be a new senior center — but what has happened with that?” Mr. Karpsinski asks. “Why has nothing been done. At the very least, there could have been improvements made to the center we do have during the pandemic, when it was sitting empty. I feel like there are a lot of things that have been neglected like that.”
Republican Party Chairman Manny Vilar, who had sent out no notifications of the party’s slate until pressed by The Press last week, said the party is already well down the road of gathering signatures for its candidates, which must be submitted to the Suffolk County Board of Elections by next week. He said he is buoyed by the qualities this year’s slate of candidates brings to the table.
“We have three very solid Town Board candidates who have spent years working and investing in the community,” he said. “They all bring a unique set of skills and life experiences to the table and I think the voters of East Hampton will see that.”
The party has begun gathering signatures for nine candidates for the East Hampton Town Trustees race as well. Incumbent Trustee Jim Grimes, who has also been endorsed by the Democratic Party, will be joined by Willy Wolter, Dave Talmage, Deborah Schwartz, Al Schaffer, TJ Weiss, Reggie Cornelia and Mr. Vilar himself — though the chairman said the party may still look to substitute another candidate in place of him or Mr. Cornelia, who is a party committeeman. The Republicans are cross-endorsing the Democratic Party’s choices for town clerk, highway superintendent, tax receiver and town justice.