We were struck this week by the promise of truly open governments in both East Hampton and Southampton towns. Not governments that simply offer transparency — which every government is ultimately obliged to provide — but ones that encourage active participation from the public; and not simply suffer it.
On Monday night Supervisor Bill Wilkinson of East Hampton and Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst of Southampton made an obvious effort to portray themselves as something new, people who were anxious to work with the public. Both appear to come from the position that the public has been deeply wounded by their predecessors and they have been elected to privide a healing salve. That their predecessors, under pressure from the public, closed up.
Mr. Wilkinson said his first order of business was to live up to a campaign promise to provide open government, and said board meetings would not be “rehearsed.”
This will be a relief, as many times board meetings — whether they are town board, village board or school board — have the air of plays being acted out by a cast that already knows its lines by heart. Hardly the stuff to make us feel like our elected officials are being spontaneous, open or honest about their discussions.
And Ms. Throne-Holst has said local community gropups should feel welcome to bring their concerns to her.
We are happy to say that both Mr. Wilkinson and Ms. Throne-Holst appear to be on the right track. In addition to participating in Monday’s forum, they have both been making good on their promises. The members of the East Hampton Town Board met in an open meeting with their constituents recently and Ms. Throne-Holst has been actively reaching out to, and meeting with, all the local community advisory committees.
For all of us, we hope they continue this openness, even when the inevitable public pressure comes upon them.