Gruber Wants a Primary

Aims to challenge Lys for Democratic nomination
David Gruber launched the East Hampton Reform Democrats and announced his candidacy for a seat on the East Hampton Town Board last week. Durell Godfrey

David Gruber, a former chairman of the East Hampton Town Democratic Committee and its 2001 candidate for supervisor, has declared his candidacy for a seat on the town board and launched the East Hampton Reform Democrats, which he describes as a caucus within the town’s Democratic Party. 

Mr. Gruber was recently passed over for the East Hampton Town Democratic Committee’s nomination in favor of Councilman David Lys, who was appointed in January to serve what would have been the remaining year of Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc’s term as councilman. Mr. Van Scoyoc was elected supervisor in November, creating the vacancy. 

Mr. Gruber is hoping to force a primary election in which he would face off against Mr. Lys, who won 63 percent of the Democratic committee’s vote at the June 1 nominating convention. Mr. Lys’s appointment and subsequent nomination by the Democrats angered several members of the committee, who pointed to his Republican Party registration, which he only recently changed to the Democratic Party. Should Mr. Gruber be successful in petitioning for a primary, it would be held on Sept. 13. 

The East Hampton Reform Party, Mr. Gruber said on Tuesday, is “a registered campaign finance committee, a multi-candidate committee, including me.” Members will also seek election to the Democratic committee, he said. The Reform Party includes current and former elected officials and Democratic committee members, he said, as well as other “politically active Democrats who are concerned about the direction of the Democratic Party in East Hampton.” 

In a letter to The Star that appears in today’s issue, he criticized the town board, asserting that its members “don’t know what to do about the fact that they don’t know what they are doing.” He is particularly critical of the board’s actions with respect to the proposed South Fork Wind Farm, a 15-turbine installation planned to be constructed approximately 35 miles from Montauk that would deliver electricity to the South Fork via a transmission cable proposed to make its landing at the ocean beach in Wainscott. “They have done nothing, not even commission a review of existing scientific literature, to ascertain possible adverse environmental impacts on our town, particularly on the fishing industry,” he wrote.

An advertisement in last week’s issue of The Star sought registered Democrats to perform “political campaign work.” A logo bore the slogan “A moral compass, a progressive party.” 

Mr. Gruber, who also served as a trustee and treasurer of the Hampton Day School and co-founded the East Hampton Conservators, said that he is still in the process of gathering signatures to get his name on the ballot in a primary election. “Once that is done, it will be time to start a real campaign,” he said.