On Tuesday night, the East Hampton Town Democratic Committee held its nominating convention for the next November’s town elections, selecting deputy county executive Ben Zwirn to lead their ticket, pitting the deputy county executive against Republican businessman Bill Wilkinson in the race for town supervisor.
Incumbent supervisor Bill McGintee announced in March he would not seek reelection amid revelations of a multi-million dollar town deficit that led to an over 20-percent tax increase town-wide.
The Democratic Committee also selected former Merrill Lynch employee and the vice president of the Montauk School Board Patti Leber and East Hampton architect John Whelan to run for the two board seats currently held by Brad Loewen and Pat Mansir. Mansir had already announced she would not seek another term. According to Democratic Committee Chairman Bill Taylor, the consensus of the committee was it would likely be easier to run a new slate of candidates in the wake of the town’s fiscal crisis rather than run incumbent board members.
Zwirn, 57, has served Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy for the last six years and was a two-term supervisor in the town of North Hempstead. According to Taylor, Zwirn has been a resident of the town since the 1970s when he bought his first home in East Hampton. The biggest battle in getting Zwirn to run for the position, said Taylor, was convincing Levy, who ultimately gave his blessing last week.
“He was the most attractive candidate in our view because he has the most relevant experience to deal with a town like East Hampton,” said Taylor on Wednesday. “He is an attorney, he is a businessman, he has lived here for ages and he has government experience.”
Running on a platform of wanting to steer the town out of fiscal mismanagement, the East Hampton Republican Party decided over a year ago it would run candidate Bill Wilkinson once again for supervisor, after he narrowly lost election to McGintee in 2007 by just over 100 votes.
Wilkinson, a regular town board attendee, is a Montauk resident and businessman. Founder of W.J. Wilkinson and Associates, a consulting firm focused on management and executive search, Wilkinson has worked with a number of large corporations in his career including Disney, ABC Radio Networks and Viacom. He also served as senior vice president of human resources for the Walt Disney Company. Locally, he has served as a member of the Montauk Lions and the Montauk Historical Society.
Running with Wilkinson for town board seats will be East Hampton attorney Theresa Quigley and financial advisor Dominick Stanzione, of Amagansett.Â