By Kathryn G. Menu
The East Hampton Democratic Committee has tapped Zachary Cohen, a Springs resident, to run against incumbent Republican town supervisor Bill Wilkinson in November. Cohen has offered financial advice to the town’s budget and finance advisory committee in the past and is the chairman of the town’s nature preserve committee.
The committee also announced this week that it has recommended former planning board chairwoman Sylvia Overby and current planning board member Peter Van Scoyoc to run on the Democratic party ticket for town council seats this fall.
The Democratic Committee will host its nominating convention on May 16 where it will vote on whether or not to accept the slate of candidates.
According to East Hampton Town Republican Committee Chairwoman Trace Duryea, the only official candidate on the Republican slate is supervisor Wilkinson. This week, she said, the committee will convene for an additional round of interviews with potential town council candidates.
“We voted to have this additional meeting in order to bring people back for another round of interviews because we have such an impressive group of individuals who have screened with us,” she said on Tuesday.
Duryea refrained from naming who is screening for the two slots, which will be voted on by the Republican Committee at its nominating convention on May 11, although author Steven Gaines has publicly stated that he has screened with the committee to run for a town council seat.
The two town council seats up for grabs now belong to Julia Prince and Pete Hammerle. Prince announced earlier this year she would not seek a second term in office, and while Hammerle — a member of the town board for the last 16 years — screened with the Democratic Committee, he reportedly withdrew his name from contention last week.
As Democrats, Hammerle and Prince are in the minority on the town board. In 2010, the board shifted into Republican control with the election of supervisor Wilkinson, councilwoman Theresa Quigley and councilman Dominick Stanzione.
The slate was elected after a fiscal crisis and $30 million deficit was uncovered in town — a crisis born during Bill McGintee’s rein as supervisor.
According to a press release issued this week by the Democratic Committee, Cohen has a background working in his family’s restaurant business, but also as an investor and manager of commercial and residential real estate holdings.
A resident of Springs for the last 20 years, Cohen has been educated in finance and economics, and has been a fixture in town hall, offering up advice to the town’s budget advisory and finance committees.
Chairman of the nature preserve committee, Cohen was also appointed to the Community Preservation Fund Management and Stewardship Task Force and is also a member of the Group for Good Government.
“I look forward to running with the Democratic endorsement, and I believe because of my independence I can appeal to all voters who are concerned that East Hampton is headed in the wrong direction,” said Cohen. “While there has been some progress on the financial front, much more remains to be done. There is no excuse for the fact that the Community Preservation Fund has still not been repaid. Giving tax cuts in lieu of debt reduction is simply not prudent.”
This will be Overby’s second run for town council. She ran in 2001, and since then has served as the chairwoman of the town’s planning board. Overby was also the chair of the Amagansett Citizens Advisory Committee for five years and chaired the villages and hamlets subcommittee for the East Hampton Comprehensive Plan Committee.
Van Scoyoc has been a member of the planning board since 2006. Prior to that, he was a member of the town’s zoning board of appeals from 1995 to 2000, serving as that board’s chairman in 2000.
Van Scoyoc owns his own construction company and operates “Montauk Fishing Safaris,” a sports fishing charter boat operation out of both Montauk and Sag Harbor.