By Stephen J. Kotz
Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman announced this week that he would change his affiliation to the Democratic Party following next month’s election. Mr. Schneiderman has been a member of the Independence Party for years but was elected town supervisor in 2015 after being cross-endorsed by the Democrats.
Mr. Schneiderman said he was making the change to reflect both the political reality and to protect himself should he face a primary challenge in the future, as he did earlier this year from Fred Havemeyer, a former town trustee from Bridgehampton tried to wrest the party’s nomination away on an anti-development platform.
“I’ve been working the Democrats for 10 years,” Mr. Schneiderman said. “It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that I’m putting a ‘D’ after my name.”
Mr. Schneiderman said as a member of the Independence Party he was “vulnerable” to political machinations. “The party’s committee makes the decisions, and if that inner circle doesn’t support you, you’re out,” he said, adding that an Independence Party member would not be able to run a primary for the Democratic nomination.
He insisted he does not have his sights set on running for the state legislature or congress. “I have a son who lives with me who is about to turn 15,” he said. “I have no intention of leaving town.”
Over the years, Mr. Schneiderman’s party affiliations have run the gamut. He said he registered as a Democrat when he was 18, but later dropped his party affiliation when he served on the East Hampton Town Zoning Board of Appeals. He was elected supervisor in 1999 with the endorsements of the Green Party and the Republicans. He said he registered as a Republican after being elected county legislator in 2003, but later joined the Independence Party after he chafed with both Republican and Democratic leaders.