By Kathryn G. Menu
The East Hampton Independence Party has endorsed Zachary Cohen to run for town supervisor on its party line, passing over incumbent Republican supervisor Bill Wilkinson in what Independence Party Chairwoman Elaine Jones called a “difficult” decision.
Cohen, a resident of Springs, is also running on the Democratic ticket with town board hopefuls Sylvia Overby and Peter Van Scoyoc.
While running as a candidate on the Democratic ticket, Cohen is not registered with any political party.
According to Jones, the Independence Party had already nominated William Mott and Marilyn Behan to run for town board, with the party opting to take more time to consider whom they wanted to support as its supervisor candidate.
On the Republican ticket, in addition to supervisor Wilkinson, author and journalist Stephen Gaines and Republican Party vice chairman Richard Haeg will seek seats on the town board.
The two town board seats up for grabs are being left by board members Julia Prince and Pete Hammerle, both who chose not to seek re-election.
“Although the decision was a difficult one, many of the Independence Party members felt that because Zach Cohen is neither a registered Republican or Democrat, he will be an independent thinker and represent all the people of East Hampton Town,” said Jones in a press release issued on Friday. “Many of his ideas include raising the morale of the employees, transparent and receptive government, enforcing the town code and affordable housing.”
In a statement this week, Cohen said he was “happy and proud” to receive the party’s endorsement, noting the effort party leaders took in making their decision.
“My endorsement by both the Democratic Party and the Independence Party shows that the current Republican majority on the board represents the views and interests of an ever-narrowing slice of the public,” said Cohen. “I have been, and always will be, committed to representing all people independent of their political affiliation. That is surely an important reason why I received the Independence Party endorsement.”
“The Independence Party is not a rubber stamp for either the Republican or Democratic parties,” said Jones. “We select the candidates who we believe will best serve the town. There will be both Democrats and Republicans and Independence Party People running on our line for the 2011 election.”
In addition to Cohen, Behan and Mott, the party endorsed its candidates for the town trustee race. Diane McNally, Stephanie Talmage, Tim Bock, Lynn Mendelman, Joseph Bloecher, Nate Miller, Shawn McCaffrey, Steven Lester and Brian Byrne have been tapped to run on the Independence Party line.
Town justice Lisa Rana is the party’s pick for town justice. Stephen Lynch, who like Rana is endorsed by the Republican party, is running for superintendent of highways, and Jill Massa and Jeanne Nielsen will seek to keep their positions as town assessors.