Greg Robins, a veteran North Sea fireman and community leader, has been nominated by the Southampton Town Republican Committee to challenge incumbent Democrat Jay Schneiderman for town supervisor in the 2019 general election.
The GOP tapped Mr. Robins, 69, a chairman of the town Republican Committee in the 1980s and a current commissioner of the North Sea Fire District, last week after Councilwoman Christine Scalera decided not to run for supervisor, leaving the party without a candidate when it held its nominating convention on February 20.
In a phone interview on Monday, Mr. Robins said he had told Republican Committee Chairman David Betts last summer that he was interested in running for a council seat, so “I was kind of in the bull pen warming up when Chris decided not to run,” Mr. Robins said.
He said he had “run into Mr. Betts while I was in the booth making hot dogs at the [North Sea Fire Department’s] carnival,” and told him that he wanted to run for a council seat because he had “a lot of concerns about the town.”
“I don’t dislike Jay Schneiderman,” he said, recalling a quip the supervisor made when he was a county legislator attending an Eagle Scout ceremony for Mr. Robins’ second son to achieve the ranking: “I never thought I’d see a robin give birth to two eagles,” he quoted the supervisor as saying.
Mr. Robins said the quip was clever “but I need more than that sitting in Town Hall.”
Citing Mr. Schneiderman’s unsuccessful campaign for county comptroller last year in the middle of his second term as town supervisor, he described Mr. Schneiderman as a professional politician who is interested in advancing his career and moving on from his town post.
“I’m just a guy who cares,” he added.
He challenged the supervisor’s claim that the tax rate has not increased under his leadership. Noting that he has lived in the Bay View Oaks community in North Sea for over 50 years, he said his house there hasn’t been changed in all that time and yet his tax bill has gone up steadily as property values have risen. He called Mr. Schneiderman’s claim “a misrepresentation.”
“We’re being reassessed out of her homes,” he said of local people with moderate incomes, questioning why the town conducts annual reassessments.
Responding to Mr. Robins’ comments, Mr. Schneiderman — the Democratic nominee who was also endorsed last week by the Southampton Town Independence Party — noted in an interview on Tuesday that town taxes are only about 20 to 25 percent of the total tax bill.
To counter rising property values, he said he has striven to lower the property tax rate every year he has been in office in Southampton Town. “It’s down significantly,” he said, adding he has also tried to provide the kind of services — land preservation, good parks, beach access, good roads — that are appropriate and desired in a community with high property values.
Mr. Schneiderman said he loved being supervisor. “I look forward to going to work every day,” he added, and on weekends and many evenings. He noted he was a schoolteacher and a businessman, “just a regular guy,” before running for office. He said he wanted to continue as a public servant “as long as they want to keep reelecting me.”
Mr. Robins was a social studies teacher in the William Floyd School District for 39 years. He said his family’s connection to the town goes back to 1935, when his father and an uncle rented a place to stay from Judge Mercator Kendrick of Southampton.
GOP Switches Candidate
In another move last week, the Republicans knocked Jim Ding of North Sea off their ticket as a candidate for Town Board, replacing him with Charles McArdle, a registered Conservative from Hampton Bays. Businessman Rick Martel, also of Hampton Bays, remains the GOP designee for the other Town Board seat at stake in this year’s election.
Mr. Ding described his ouster as a move demanded by town Conservatives. “The Conservative Party would not give any Republican [who is] running their line,” Mr. Ding wrote in an email, unless the Conservative candidate for Town Board got Mr. Ding’s spot on the ticket.
“Occasionally it is necessary to consider what is best for the ticket as a whole as opposed to each individual,” Assistant GOP Chair Theresa Kiernan, the Southampton Town tax receiver, wrote in an email. She confirmed that there is a cross-endorsement agreement “with the Conservative Party for our candidates except the supervisor.”
Mr. McArdle, 56, is a former New York City patrolman and Southampton Town police detective who served eight years as the local PBA president. He runs a private investigation and security firm as well as a valet parking service and is president of the Eastern Long Island Police Conference.
Mr. Martel owns Skidmore’s Sports & Style Shop on Main Street in Hampton Bays and is a key organizer of the hamlet’s San Gennaro Festival. He has long been active in the Southampton Kiwanis Club and the Hampton Bays Little League and other organizations.
Messages to GOP Chair David Betts were not returned. A call to attorney Robert Macedonio, whom Mr. McArdle said would provide the full Conservative Party slate, was not returned.
In addition to cross-endorsing Mr. Schneiderman, the Southampton Independence Party last week also gave the nod for Town Board to incumbent Democrat, John Bouvier, whose runningmate on the Democratic line is Craig Catalanotto of Speonk, the co-chair the town’s Citizens Advisory Committee-West; and backed political newcomer Hannah Pell of Southampton, the daughter of longtime Town Trustee Bill Pell, for Town Board, according to party chairman Fred W. Thiele Jr.
The party also endorsed Republican incumbent Theresa Kiernan for tax receiver; Bill Haefeli for Town Justice; and for Town Trustee incumbents Bill Pell and Ann Welker, both Independence Party members; Republican incumbent Scott Horowitz and Democrat David Mayer.
The party left one Trustee spot vacant for candidates who are expected to file nominating petitions, Mr. Thiele said.