Before we get to endorsements for East Hampton Town, we feel it’s imperative to note that over the course of this election season, it has become clear to us that neither the Democratic nor Republican party leadership in East Hampton cares much about the voters of Sag Harbor. Our attempts to obtain information from both parities in advance of the election were treated dismissively and in a manner that makes us realize this village is the red headed step child of East Hampton. Though Sag Harbor is a small part of East Hampton Town, it’s important a relationship be forged between the two — something previous supervisor and town board members have done. Unlike their party leaders, we hope the individuals elected on Tuesday pursue a good relationship with Sag Harbor and fight for things that are important to the village.
For town council, while we like Theresa Quigley and appreciate her experience as a lawyer, and are also impressed by Patti Leber’s financial expertise through her work with Merrill Lynch and the Montauk School Board, we ultimately felt Dominick Stanzione and John Whelan were stronger candidates and we endorse them. When it comes to the town board, we’re not looking for unity, but rather, people who will debate the issues. That’s why Stanzione gets our vote. He has corporate and financial experience and has been a constant presence at town board meetings for years. He’s also been focused on the town’s finances and called for the creation of the town’s budget advisory committee. He even paid to televise that group’s meetings when the town board said it couldn’t afford to. He’s says what he thinks and that’s the kind of energy we need on this board. Whelan, an architect, also gets our vote. Having worked in the town planning department, he understands the needs of the community and is one of the few born and raised East Hampton residents on the ballot. Given his experience and compassion, it became clear during the campaign and debate that we would endorse him.
In the supervisor’s race, while it’s admirable that during his 2007 run against now-resigned supervisor Bill McGintee, Bill Wilkinson was able to forecast the financial struggles of the town, we don’t feel “I told you so” makes for the most meaningful campaign slogan. We want more from our candidates. Was Wilkinson right about the town’s finances? Yes, and to his credit, for the last two years, he has been paying attention to what’s going on in the town. Does that mean he should be our next supervisor? We don’t think so. That’s why Ben Zwirn gets our endorsement for East Hampton Town supervisor. Zwirn has shown not only that he has the resume, but the dedication and initiative to work with Sag Harbor. His experience as a supervisor of North Hempstead who steered that town out of fiscal crisis got our attention. He’s also the only candidate willing to talk about a town wide reassessment, which we feel would greatly help the taxpayers on the East Hampton side of Sag Harbor. Though the Democratic Committee should be ashamed for not knowing what was going on in town hall in recent years, that doesn’t mean every Democratic candidate is not worthy of holding office. And Zwirn is an excellent candidate, so he gets our vote.