With a little less than three months before Sag Harbor Village elections, a mayoral contest has emerged that pits current mayor, Brian Gilbride, against former mayor Pierce Hance.
This week, after months of speculation, Hance announced he would seek the mayoral seat in June’s elections. The same day, Gilbride confirmed he would seek a third term at the helm of the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees.
Trustee Ed Gregory also announced he will seek another term on the board and will run alongside Gilbride under The Sag Harbor Party banner. A second trustee seat — vacated by Tim Culver last summer after he moved to North Haven Village — will also be on the ballot in June. On Tuesday, Gilbride said he and Gregory have talked about running a full slate, but were unsure whether or not they would seek another candidate to join them.
This is Gregory’s 13th time running for office in Sag Harbor Village. On Tuesday, he said he was doing so because Gilbride was seeking another term, and because there are a number of projects both candidates would like to see to completed during their tenure on the board.
“We still have things to do,” he said. “I would like to see the Havens Beach project come to fruition after all these years. I also have some ideas for Long Wharf.”
So far, the only resident outside of the incumbents to formally announce candidacy is Hance, who on Tuesday said he’s seeking the mayoral seat because he is concerned about the management of the village.
“I am running because of the state of the village and the way I feel it is being managed,” he said.
Hance said he believed village government could be more transparent and that its departments were having difficulty functioning to the best of their abilities.
“I believe we need a new administration to settle things down,” he said.
In particular, Hance was critical of how ongoing negotiations with the Sag Harbor Police Benevolent Association (PBA) have been handled by the current board.
“I think the situation with the police department is absurd,” said Hance. “I am not saying one group is right and one is wrong, but it appears to have been mismanaged. We should never have gotten to arbitration without at least having a cordial process.”
Hance said he believes concepts like farming out police services to Suffolk County Sheriffs, for example, was a public ruse used unsuccessfully to try and force the hand of the PBA to accept the village’s terms.
“I was faced with the same thing in 1993,” said Hance, who was elected mayor that year under The Economy Party banner in the midst of a contentious PBA contract negotiation.
One of The Economy Party platforms was aimed at reducing the cost of police services in Sag Harbor.
Negotiating contracts with other departments — something Gilbride looked into earlier this year when he reached out to the Suffolk County Sheriff’s as well as East Hampton and Southampton towns — is an option Hance said he would not have considered at the time.
“You either have a police department, or you don’t and it is left to East Hampton and Southampton to take over police services,” he said. “It was decided then that we wanted a police department
In 1994, Gilbride was elected to the village board as a member of The Sag Harbor Party with running mate Ed Deyermond.
Deyermond, who served as a mayor of the village board and chose not to seek re-election in 2009, sent a letter to the board following Culver’s resignation asking to fill that seat.
However, the board opted not to appoint someone to cover the remainder of Culver’s term, and did not consider Deyermond’s request. Earlier this month, Deyermond — former Southampton Town tax assessor — confirmed he was considering a run for office, but has yet to make a formal announcement.
Hance said on Tuesday he has been in discussions with potential running mates, but that they were still making up their minds on whether or not to run. This past weekend, he said, he made his decision to announce his candidacy.
On Tuesday, Gilbride said the ongoing contract negotiations with the PBA was one of the reasons he has decided to seek another term. That contract is currently being negotiated through arbitration.
“I don’t feel comfortable walking away right now, with us being in the middle of arbitration, although it would be easier for me,” he said.
Gilbride cited ongoing projects like the Havens Beach remediation and the village’s future plans for Long Wharf as other projects he would like to see to fruition.
“I think we have accomplished a lot of good in the last four years,” said Gilbride. “I would just like to see things through to the end.”
“It seems like there will be a lot of candidates in the field this year, so it should be a good election,” he added.