East Hampton G.O.P. Names Manny Vilar New Chairman

Manny Vilar Durell Godfrey photos

One week after Amos Goodman was asked for and submitted his resignation as chairman of the East Hampton Town Republican Committee, the committee named Manny Vilar, who mounted unsuccessful bids for councilman this year and supervisor last year, as its new chairman. A unanimous vote was taken at the committee's meeting at the American Legion Hall in Amagansett on Thursday night.

"We have to sit back, reposition ourselves, and re-evaluate," Mr. Vilar said on Friday of the committee he now leads. "For the committee itself, we have to look at the direction we want to take. I believe strongly that, regardless of whether you are a Republican or a Democrat, you're a public servant."

"We're deeply driven by our concern for East Hampton Town," he said, "for our working families, for our community."

Mr. Vilar, the founding president of the Police Benevolent Association of New York State, assumes leadership of the Republican Committee after the party suffered lopsided losses in 2017 and 2018, and the news this week that his predecessor was charged with fraud related to signatures gathered on nominating petitions ahead of last month's election.

The Republicans are also greatly outnumbered in the town: There are 8,122 registered Democrats versus 3,739 registered Republicans in East Hampton, according to the Suffolk County Board of Elections.

Nonetheless, Mr. Vilar called for a coalition of voters who feel disenfranchised, and likened his party to the Reform Democrats, a splinter group led by David Gruber that fielded its own candidates for town board and the East Hampton Democratic Committee this year. "To have a viable alternative, because of overwhelming enrollment numbers, we're going to have to work as a coalition," he said. "I'm a big-tent person. I'm happy to attract Republicans, Democrats, Independents, libertarians, no party affiliation."

"I question how the town is spending its money," he said of the town board, at present made up of a 5-to-0 Democratic supermajority. "Town government is operating in a sense that it's one-party rule, and it's not even one-party -- it's very reminiscent of Tammany Hall," he said, referring to the Democratic Party political machine that controlled New York City and state politics for more than a century.

"It's a handful of people in one party. If you look at the Reform Democrats, it appears that there's a mentality of 'You're either with me or you're out' " at Town Hall. "David Gruber and the Reform Democrats are absolutely right in all the issues they're bringing forward, which are all the issues we've been bringing forward."

"If anybody feels disenfranchised, left out, put out, as in the case of the Reform Democrats, join us," Mr. Vilar said. "Let's bring open and transparent government to Town Hall."