By Stephen J. Kotz
Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst has confirmed that she will give up her town position this year and challenge freshman Republican Representative Lee Zeldin in 2016 instead.
“This has been suggested to me for some time,” Ms. Throne-Holst said on Wednesday morning. “I finally made my decision a couple of weeks ago.”
Ms. Throne-Holst, who is a member of the Independence Party, said she would switch her affiliation to the Democratic Party. “When you are legislating at the local level, there isn’t a Democratic, Independence or Republican way to fill potholes,” she said, “but when you get to the national level, you have to caucus with the Democrats or the Republicans and there is no question I’ll be with the Democrats.”
Ms. Throne-Holst said, if elected, she would focus on representing the people of the 1st District, and not serving a political agenda.
Although Mr. Zeldin has only been in office about five months, Ms. Throne-Holst said, “I think he has shown in a very short amount of time that he is out of touch with the day to day issues affecting his constituents,” noting that he had voted against Medicaid and Homeland Security funding.
Ms. Throne-Holst said she would step down from her town position when her term ends at the end of the year. “I will be at Town Hall doing my job just the way I have until the end of the year, and after that I will put the same commitment into the congressional race.”
Gordon Herr, the chairman of the Southampton Town Democratic Committee, said on Wednesday, “There’s no question we’ll be backing Anna, of course,” when the committee holds its convention on Wednesday May 27, although she still must obtain the countywide nod.
Mr. Herr promised the Democrats would field “a very powerful slate and we will retain control of the board come November,” even though the party currently cross-endorses two members of the Independence Party, Ms. Throne-Holst and Councilman Brad Bender.
There is only one registered Democrat on the board, Councilwoman Bridget Fleming, and she is expected to be named that party’s nominee to replace Jay Schneiderman as county legislator for the 2nd Legislative District, which covers East Hampton and Southampton Towns.
Mr. Schneiderman, who cannot run again because of term limits, said this week he has expressed an interest in running for Ms. Throne-Holst’s position. Mr. Schneiderman has family ties and property in Montauk. He served two terms as East Hampton supervisor and remained registered there, but he is now living in Southampton.
“I’ve been representing Southampton for 12 years, I know a lot of the people and a lot of the issues,” he said over the phone on Wednesday. He said he thought that the similarities between East Hampton and Southampton, and his experience would help his candidacy.
Meanwhile, in East Hampton Town, both major parties have held their conventions and announced slates.
The Republicans have nominated Tom Knobel, the party chairman and a former councilman and Trustee, to challenge incumbent Democratic Supervisor Larry Cantwell.
Mr. Knobel said the Democrats, who hold a 4-1 majority on the town board, “are trumpeting achievements that don’t exist” and said they have left numerous projects unfinished after more than a year in office, ranging from East Hampton Airport regulations, to the Montauk beach protection project to a rental registry.
He will be joined on the ticket by Nancy Keeshan, a Montauk real estate broker, and Leonard Czajka, a retired banker, who will run for Town Board.
Both parties have cross-endorsed incumbent Town Justice Lisa Rana, Town Highway Superintendent Stephen Lynch, and Assessors Jeanne Nielsen and Jill Massa.
The Republicans will also run the Trustee slate of Diane McNally, Tim Bock, Sean McCaffrey, Nat Miller, Joe Bloecker, James Grimes, Stephen Lynch Jr., Michael Havens and Josh Davidson.
The Democrats have nominated the three incumbent town board members, Mr. Cantwell, and Councilman Peter Van Scoyoc, and Councilwoman Sylvia Overby.
For Trustee, they have nominated Bill Taylor, Francis Bock, Pat Mansir, Rona Klopman, Deborah Klugher, Brian Byrnes, Zachary Cohen, Ricky Drew, and Tyler Armstrong.