By Stephen J. Kotz
Frederick Havemeyer of Bridgehampton, who served for more than a decade as a Southampton Town Trustee, has announced he will challenge incumbent Supervisor Jay Schneiderman in a Democratic primary in September.
“The difference between Jay and me is simple,” Mr. Havemeyer said on Friday. “Jay’s a career politician, he’s a practiced administrator, but he doesn’t have any vision. He’s just chauffeuring the car around.”
Mr. Havemeyer said he had been asked to consider challenging the supervisor by the members of the Long Island Environmental Voters Forum and agreed to do so because he believes time is of the essence to protect the town’s environment as well as its way of life. The candidate formally announced his decision to run at a rally attended by about a dozen supporters in front of Southampton Town Hall on Monday.
“The entire horizon in Southampton Town has changed dramatically over the years,” said Mr. Havemeyer in an interview. “The trajectory for the town, whether you are talking about the environment or the quality of life, is just going rapidly downhill.”
Mr. Havemeyer said he did not plan to be a one-issue candidate, but acknowledged “the billboard issue” for the town this year is “The Hills,” a major housing development and golf course in East Quogue that has been before the town board for several years as a planned development district.
“The big issue at Town Hall is reviewing an application for a golf course over the sole source aquifer,” Mr. Havemeyer said. “Is that crazy or what? That gives you an idea of how off course things are when something like this can be dragged on, not only for weeks and months, but for years.”
Mr. Schneiderman, a member of the Independence Party, who has been cross-endorsed by the Democrats, said Dick Amper, the executive director of the Long Island Pine Barrens Society and president of the voters forum, “had been looking for a candidate to challenge me because I wouldn’t come out and say I was against ‘The Hills’ and he found him in Fred.”
Mr. Schneiderman said he would stand on his record as an environmentalist and a fiscal manager who had worked hard to provide transparent government.
Although “The Hills” application has proven to be divisive, Mr. Schneiderman said it was his duty to listen to all the facts before making a decision, despite the fact that it was a slow process.
If elected, Mr. Havemeyer said he would convene an open process to map a new, sustainable future for the town.
“We have to sit down and analyze what is going on, not from the developer’s point of view, but from the residents’ point of view,” he said. “What will be going on in a few years? What will happen if we just continue to develop, develop, develop?”
Mr. Havemeyer served as a Trustee from 2002 to 2013. Mr. Schneiderman, who was elected supervisor in 2015, formerly served as a Suffolk County legislator and East Hampton Town supervisor.
Mr. Havemeyer said he needed to obtain the signatures of 500 registered Democratic voters to placed on the ballot for the primary on September 18.