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Mayor’s ‘Unethical Tactics’?

Thu, 10/31/2019 - 13:28

A newspaper story in which East Hampton Village Mayor Paul F. Rickenbach Jr. announced the political appointments the village board plans to make after he resigns on Dec. 31 has led to an accusation of dirty politicking from Jerry Larsen, the former East Hampton Village police chief who is running for mayor next year.

After Mr. Rickenbach resigns, the board could either appoint a new mayor by a majority vote or leave the office vacant until the June election, according to Becky Molinaro Hansen, the village administrator. Members will also appoint someone to fill a vacant board seat.

In an interview with The East Hampton Press last week, Mayor Rickenbach said that Deputy Mayor Richard Lawler, who is running for re-election, would take over the mayoral duties, and named Ray Harden‚ who has announced his candidacy for the open seat, as the person likely to be appointed to fill it.

 Mr. Harden, the vice chairman of the zoning board of appeals, and Mr. Lawler are running mates with Barbara Borsack, a longtime village board member  who is a candidate for mayor in 2020.

“I’m leaving early because I’d like to have village residents see others in play,” Mayor Rickenbach told The East Hampton Press. “The village residents might be interested in continuing that direction in office.”

In a Facebook post on Monday, Mr. Larsen accused the mayor of trying to give his preferred candidates an unfair advantage. “This unethical tactic that attempts to control the outcome of an election has been used by other jurisdictions on Long Island that have been plagued by corruption for many years,” Mr. Larsen said.

On Tuesday, Mr. Rickenbach said he was simply making assumptions about how the process would play out. “I wouldn’t be so arrogant to say, ‘This is what you’re going to do.’ ” After he resigns, he said, Mr. Lawler, in his capacity as deputy mayor, would chair the first board meeting, and “things will unfold from there — the board will decide what they think is best for the village.”

Mr. Larsen said Tuesday that he was surprised the village board had not publicly rejected the mayor’s comments. “The other board members should chime in, and say, ‘No, we’re not doing it like that,’ ” he said. “I would also hope that Ray Harden wouldn’t want to accept a position on the village board that way.”

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