This year, Dan’s Papers conducted interviews with Suffolk County political leaders and candidates from all the major parties. We are grateful for the extensive time they took out of their busy pre-election days to answer our questions and give us some insight into their thoughts about the November 8 elections on the East End. Make no mistake about it, Rich Shaffer, the Chairman of the Suffolk County Democratic Party, and John Jay LaValle, the Chairman of the Suffolk County Republican Party, selected and supported slates of highly qualified and dedicated candidates who were all committed to making the East End of Long Island the best place to live and raise families.
However, on Election Day, citizens can only cast one vote per candidate, and it is that very private moment that is the essence of the greatness of the American political system.
The following endorsements are not a knock against any candidate, but instead a nod to the ones we feel deserve a vote. These choices are based on the responses of all those who were interviewed.
In the 1st and 2nd District of the Suffolk County Legislature, our choices are for the incumbents—Republican Ed Romaine and the Democratic-Independence Party candidate Jay Schneiderman. Both have had and continue to have majority support in their districts because they are hardworking, likeable incumbents and seem to represent their constituents in the best way possible. Cornelius Kelly will be a voice to be heard from again, but we don’t see him winning his first-ever election against Schneiderman.
In the Town of Southampton, the nod goes to incumbent Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst based on her dedicated, innovative leadership and caring. Her write-in opponent, former Supervisor Linda Kabot, added to the race, keeping the debate lively and interesting. As for the Southampton Town Board candidates, we choose Brad Bender and Bridget Fleming because they are qualified and diligent. Perhaps Throne-Holst, if given a majority on the board, will be capable of doing greater things for the future of Southampton.
As for Southampton Town Justice, Judge Ed Burke Sr. gets the nod because his lifetime of work for the town is exemplary. The nod for Southampton Town Trustees goes to incumbents Bill Pell (D), Fred Havemeyer (R), Eric Shultz (R) and challenger Janet Beck (D). This was an especially tough decision because of the high level of character of all the candidates.
In the Town of East Hampton, incumbent Supervisor Bill Wilkinson gets the nod for re-election because he has done a great job restoring credibility to the town. Walking into a very tough situation he set out not to make friends but to restore order to Town Hall. He succeeded on both accounts. Zach Cohen, the Democratic candidate for Supervisor, will no doubt play a role in town politics, but his valiant candidacy, at this time and in this political climate, will fall short.
With six candidates vying for only two open East Hampton Town Board spots, the nod first goes to Jane Behan (I) and Peter Van Scoyac (D). Behan will be a voice of reason, having been the wife of a Republican legend, yet she’s always been a registered Democrat. As for Van Scoyac, he seemed to have the best grip on all town issues. We must note that Steven Gaines was an extremely close third on our card. He has a “voice of reason” that will still be heard after the election.
As for the East Hampton Town Trustees’ race, again by the very number of candidates up for election, making the best choices is tough. Therefore we have selected candidates who have made a difference and those who will continue to stand up for the historic ideals the town was founded on: Joe Bloecker (R), John Gosman (R), Diane McNally (R), Lynn Mendelman (R), Ray Hartjen (D), Rona Klopman (D), Debbie Klughers (D), Nanci E. LaGarenne (D) and Steven Lester (D). For East Hampton Town Justice the nods goes to incumbent Judge Lisa Rana because of her integrity and pure common sense, which she has exhibited in her every action.
The decisions that must be made for the East End for the upcoming year go beyond the political science phrase of “who gets what, when, where and how.” There will be painful cuts in jobs, programs and services countywide. Town and school taxes may rise for most households, and all of this will take place in a country struggling to get a grip on recent economic events that have shaken the globe. The good news is that good leadership always somehow rises to the rescue. Americans tend to solve problems. This all starts in the election process. The checking off of a box or the pulling of a lever on Election Day is meaningful. It says, “I chose this person over all others.”
In America, if things are not going the way we like, we don’t have coups, we don’t have military takeovers, we hold elections. The power is in the will of the people and in the majesty of the vote. Use your vote this year most wisely.