With incumbent Supervisor Larry Cantwell choosing not to seek re-election this year, the race for supervisor has Mr. Cantwell’s deputy, Councilman Peter Van Scoyoc, a Democrat, facing challenger Manny Vilar, a New York State Parks police sergeant running on the Republican line.
Peter Van Scoyoc
Peter Van Scoyoc, 58, is serving his sixth year as a town board member and fourth year as deputy supervisor under Larry Cantwell, but his experience in town government began long before he was first elected as a councilman. Mr. Van Scoyoc has had a hand in town government for 17 years, having served on the town’s planning board for six years, and on its zoning board of appeals for five years. A resident of Northwest Woods, with family roots in the town that stretch back to the 1700s, Mr. Van Scoyoc carries the endorsement of the Democratic, Working Families and Independence Party lines.
On the campaign trail, Mr. Van Scoyoc has touted the town board’s accomplishments over the last six years, including the purchase of hundreds of acres of open space, ongoing hamlet studies and the adoption of the town’s rental registry, as well as water quality initiatives, including the adoption of the strictest septic code in the state and an accompanying rebate program to offset that burden for residents. This week, he said much more needs to be done when it comes to issues like water quality, affordable housing and coastal erosion.
Mr. Van Scoyoc has been a supporter of the Deepwater Wind project that aims to build a wind farm off the coast the Montauk, and said he believes most residents support the plan which would aid efforts to create a sustainable energy source for a town focused on its greatest asset — the environment. The news of contamination of well water in Wainscott has reinforced the fact that what happens on land affects drinking water, and Mr. Van Scoyoc said he would like to see more education for residents about the impact certain chemicals and pesticides can have on the aquifer.
While there are two affordable housing projects on the way, Mr. Van Scoyoc said the town would continue to look for suitable parcels to increase its housing stock, including parcels already owned by the town.
“I think I have had a lot of relevant experience working in town government for 17 years including six on the town board — I can’t believe sometimes it has been that long,” said Mr. Van Scoyoc. “I feel like I know this community well, I understand what is required in government in terms of procedures, and have a lot of institutional knowledge working with various departments. I won’t be starting out on day one.”
Manny Vilar, 57, is running in his first local election, but as a New York State Parks Police sergeant, and founder of the Police Benevolent Association of New York, politics is something he has been a part of on the state level for a number of years. The Springs resident has the support of the Republican and Conservative party lines.
It is that experience in Albany, working with state lawmakers on behalf of the fifth largest police union in the state that Mr. Vilar says gives him the skills necessary to lead the town board. On the campaign trail, which Mr. Vilar said “has been nothing short of an amazing experience,” the candidate said water quality has continued to be a concern for most residents.
While Mr. Vilar said he supported the town’s septic replacement and rebate program — a program he noted would not have been possible without the state legislature and voters allowing the five East End towns to use 20 percent of their CPF for water quality projects — he touted a plan rolled out by Republicans that would tap federal funds via a loan to fund widespread septic system replacements. “We can’t think $5 million a year is a pollution solution,” he said.
Mr. Vilar said he would like noise generated by the East Hampton Airport addressed, but said he also understood the “need and necessity of having an airport.” He said he believed negotiating skills he had cultivated in Albany would aid in negotiating with an entity like the FAA, but also different user groups at the airport.
Mr. Vilar said another pressing issue was affordable housing, and charged that the current town board had not taken that seriously enough. “We have an affordable housing crisis, but what we really have is a cost of living problem,” he said, stating the town should be trying to draw in employers who can offer higher paying jobs to residents. “We have a great quality of life here, and the CEOs are summering here anyway,” he said.