By Kathryn G. Menu
After months of speculation, on Friday surrounded by family and friends, as well as some East End political heavyweights — including New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. — East Hampton Village administrator Larry Cantwell announced he would campaign for East Hampton Town supervisor as a Democratic and Independence party candidate.
On Tuesday, Independence Party chairwoman Elaine Jones said the party would have its public screening for supervisor and town board candidates at Ashawagh Hall on Tuesday, April 23 at 6 p.m. Jones confirmed Cantwell is screening with the committee for the supervisor nomination along with Zachary Cohen — who ran against Supervisor Bill Wilkinson in 2011 on the Democratic Party ticket — and planning board vice chairwoman Nancy Keeshan, rumored to be the favored supervisor candidate for the Republican Party.
On Tuesday, Republican Committee chairman Kurt Kappel said the party planned to hold its screening for a new supervisor candidate in the next two weeks. Kappel said he believed “strongly” the party would run its own supervisor candidate.
The committee has already announced it will run incumbent town councilman Dominick Stanzione and town clerk Fred Overton for town board.
The East Hampton Democratic Committee, which has kept mum on who it has screened for supervisor and town board, will have its convention in mid-May. Cantwell, a longtime Democrat, has screened with the committee.
Democratic Committee Chairwoman Jeanne Frankl did not return calls for comment this week.
On Friday, surrounded by supporters at the Highway Diner in Wainscott, Cantwell was introduced by Thiele, who heralded the village administrator — set to retire this year — as the kind of supervisor candidate who could return the town to a leadership position it long held on the East End.
“Whether it was land preservation or zoning or governance, East Hampton was first and other towns looked to see what it was doing and that is not the case anymore,” said Thiele.
Thiele said when speaking to high school students about leadership, he tells them the most important ability for an elected official is the ability to listen to constituents.
“And sometimes that is a lost art in government and it is something that needs to be returned,” said Thiele.
Cantwell was the youngest elected bay constable in town history and was elected twice to the East Hampton Town Board before serving as the village administrator for 31 years in East Hampton Village.
“For the part 31 years as the Chief Financial Officer of the Village of East Hampton, I have guided the finances in the village to an accumulated surplus every year for three decades,” said Cantwell on Friday. “I know how to prepare and manage a budget and I am prepared to manage town finances with the same vigilance.”
“Our beaches and shorelines are one of our most priceless assets,” continued Cantwell. “We need to face a new reality of sea level rise from global warming and the long term impacts on our beaches and coastline.”
Cantwell thanks Congressman Tim Bishop for securing some $20 million in federal funding to secure beaches in Montauk and protect its downtown. If elected, Cantwell vowed to the people of Montauk that he would make that project a top priority.
“The town also needs to adopt a town wide mitigation and recovery program to protect our shoreline and our residents from coastal erosion,” he added.
Cantwell said he also would like to see the town build consensus to “maintain a small, safe airport” and develop a “clear strategy to reduce noise impacts on small residential neighborhoods.”
Investing is technology to make government more efficient is also important, said Cantwell, as is a leader who believes and supports planning and zoning in the town.
“We need to support local businesses,” said Cantwell. “Believing in planning and zoning and supporting local businesses should not be mutually exclusive.”
He also called for greater civility on the town board.
“We must stop trying to find ways to disagree and start finding ways to agree,” said Cantwell. “I will treat my colleagues on the town board and in the public with dignity and respect and I will provide even handed leadership.”
“I will not play party politics to reward special interests and disregard the rights of our residents and the best interest of our community as a whole,” said Cantwell. “If I am elected, I will leave party politics outside the front door of town hall.”