There are few in East Hampton who would argue that Larry Cantwell has not measured, civil discourse to East Hampton Town Hall. At the same time, the town board under his leadership took on significant legislation and projects that had been left on the backburner during a period of extreme political squabbling.
Both Mr. Cantwell, and Fred Overton, a Republican and former town clerk who has devoted decades to the town, will certainly be missed, but fortunately for town residents, the campaign for supervisor and two seats on the town board has invited invigorating debate, new ideas, and new residents willing to enter the political fray — and most with the best of intentions.
Councilman Peter Van Scoyoc, Mr. Cantwell’s deputy supervisor for the last four years, is joined on the Democratic slate by the only other incumbent, Kathee Burke-Gonzalez, seeking a second term on the town board after taking on tremendous responsibilities as the board’s representative to its Human Resources Department and the East Hampton Airport — a position that, for most, would basically guarantee one-term in office. They are joined on the slate by Jeffrey Bragman, an intelligent and gutsy attorney who may not always rub everyone the right way when fighting on behalf of residents and non-profits concerned about development, but certainly comes to the table well versed in fact.
The Republican ticket is one of the more promising in recent years, led by Manny Vilar, a charismatic sergeant for the state parks police who is clearly devoted to the Town of East Hampton. He is joined by Paul Giardina, an environmental engineer with four-decades of experience and Gerard “Jerry” Larsen, a former East Hampton Village police chief who in his career garnered much respect, and a number of friends, throughout town. The slate has brought a lot of meaningful, new ideas to the table, with Mr. Giardina, in particular, standing out as a candidate with a real zeal for public service.
While certainly more measured in his conversations than his competitor, Peter Van Scoyoc has a true mastery about what is, and what is possible in East Hampton Town after 17 years of experience on various boards, including six years as a town councilman. He is serious about issues, but has a soft spot that reveals true humanity — a quality that shines through when discussing the environment, affordable housing, and even leaf pick up. Mr. Van Scoyoc has a generations-old dedication to this community that will most certainly serve it at the helm of the town board. Those reasons, and many more, are why he has our endorsement for supervisor of the Town of East Hampton.
Kathee Burke-Gonzalez should also be returned to the town board. Ms. Burke-Gonzalez took on a tremendous task in leading the town board on the issue of the East Hampton Airport, and has proven herself a champion for affordable housing and senior services — a service we agree with Ms. Burke-Gonzalez will need to be developed in a comprehensive way by all municipalities on the East End in years to come. While Mr. Larsen, and especially Mr. Giardina, were excellent candidates for the Republican party to select in East Hampton, Jeffrey Bragman brings the skills, and tenacity, this board will need to counter significant development pressures from outside forces that will continue to hammer East Hampton, and surrounding communities. He has legal expertise we believe the board will need in coming years, which is why he also earns our endorsement for town board.