This year, residents in Sag Harbor are faced with one of the most difficult elections in recent history, as the village says good-bye to a mayor almost everyone agrees has been an excellent leader through some of the more challenging years this village has faced.

With the departure of mayor Greg Ferraris and long-time board member Ed Deyermond, the board of trustees stands to change quite drastically during what we envision will be years that continue to be dominated by development concerns, a lagging economy, a desire for preservation, the hope for sustainability and the goal of finding a balance so we may maintain our wonderfully vibrant village.

The four trustee candidates — Tim Culver, Ed Gregory, Jane Holden and Robby Stein — have largely been in agreement on these core issues facing our community, their interactions more like a summit than a debate. All strong candidates with a variety of strengths, Culver stood out among the pack as the candidate who best understood the financial limitations of a village government, while also possessing zoning and planning experience this board will surely benefit from as we move into the future. Culver has demonstrated an uncanny ability to bring consensus and has a strong grasp on village history and issues. His is, by far, the easiest endorsement this paper has had to make this election season.

Gregory, Holden and Stein all have strengths that would benefit a number of boards. Gregory’s experience as a trustee gives him, like Culver, the insight into what village government has the ability to accomplish and what projects need to be funded through grants or high levels of government. His commitment to environmental issues is apparent in conversation, as is his commitment to the community and willingness to look outside his own opinions. Holden has a real estate background that would undoubtedly aid the village as it moves forward with its village business district code and begins to tackle the residential code. A proven fundraiser and daughter of Sag Harbor, Holden also understands financial realities facing a number of area seniors, a necessity in this economy. The election of Stein would bring a new perspective to the board of trustees. His focus on human services would be a welcome addition to village government, so often focused elsewhere. Like Culver, Stein is a proven consensus builder, a plus as this new board will have to grapple with issues like affordable housing, the remediation at Havens Beach, a new zoning code, environmental sustainability and development projects in coming years.

Despite all their strengths, ultimately The Express feels Gregory deserves our support. Admittedly, going into our endorsement interview we were concerned about his enthusiasm regarding his position as trustee and what he would want to bring to the village if elected. By the end of that discussion, and watching him throughout the campaign, we were impressed with his specific, albeit not grand, plans for sustainability and preservation, and ultimately feel the experience he brings to the table cannot be discounted under the circumstances. We urge residents to support both Culver and Gregory in the coming election.

The mayoral race was much more difficult, as no true leader emerged from our trio of candidates throughout the campaign. Henry brings a vigor to his candidacy that is admirable at times and a gifted orator, we enjoyed hearing his visions for the future of Sag Harbor. However, his lack of experience in government and specifically in Sag Harbor government made an endorsement of his candidacy one we could not offer. We encourage Henry to remain a part of the dialogue and would welcome his involvement in solving some of the issues this community stands to face.

Bromberg and Gilbride have the experience we feel is necessary to lead this board of trustees through certainly challenging times. A chairman of the zoning board of appeals, Bromberg has an obvious love and passion for Sag Harbor, defending it as he does on a monthly basis. His commitment to affordable housing and the environment is one we can stand behind and we enjoy the fact that Bromberg can be found at municipal and community meetings alike. It’s a depth we wish more candidates embraced.

Gilbride has served as deputy mayor under mayor Ferraris for three years and has exhibited a care for this village and its residents in each move he has made as a board member. A family-man, and certainly a member of “old Sag Harbor” Gilbride possesses a knowledge of what the average citizen is facing in Sag Harbor — rising tax bills from the federal, state, county and town governments in the face of a fixed income for many. He understands the need for projects like the remediation of Havens Beach, but also realizes the need for a fiscally conservative budget as our nation is in the throes of a recession. It is for this reason that Gilbride, narrowly, edges out Bromberg for our endorsement.

Ultimately, in the next two years, The Express envisions a board of trustees comprised of five members, each bringing something different to the table and none possessing absolute authority. For this reason, if elected, we would encourage Gilbride to appoint Stein to his vacant seat. We feel the election of Gilbride, Culver and Gregory with the appointment of Stein will provide a balance to this board that the community is searching for.