A Three-Way Race for Town Supervisor

Indy Party backs Gruber of Reform Democrats

The 2019 slates announced by East Hampton Town’s political parties in recent weeks have set up a three-way race for supervisor in November and blurred political affiliations as minority parties strive to overcome a sizable Democratic majority in both town government and voter registration. 

The East Hampton Independence Party chose David Gruber, who lost a primary Democratic challenge to Councilman David Lys last year, as its 2019 candidate for town supervisor, and Bonnie Brady and Betsy Bambrick, the Republicans’ picks for town board, as its candidates for the two board seats on this year’s ballot.

The announcement on Monday followed the Independence Party’s convention held on Friday and Saturday at Ashawagh Hall in Springs and comes on the heels of East Hampton’s Democratic and Republican Committees’ announcements of their respective candidates last month.

Republicans named Richard Myers as their candidate for supervisor. Mr. Gruber and Mr. Myers will face Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc, a Democrat who is seeking a second two-year term. 

A former Democratic Committee chairman, Mr. Gruber, a persistent critic of the town board, ran for supervisor in 2001. Last year, as a candidate for the Reform Democrats, a group he has described as a caucus within the Democratic Party, he lost a Democratic primary challenge to Councilman David Lys, who is seeking re-election this year. Mr. Lys went on to defeat the Republicans’ candidate, Manny Vilar. Mr. Vilar is now chairman of the Republican Committee. 

The Reform Democrats did not endorse a candidate for supervisor in a release dated Sunday, but Mr. Gruber said an announcement might be forthcoming.

“You might assume that they would automatically endorse me, as I am a member of the caucus, but that is not necessarily the case with an otherwise joint effort where it is important to support one’s partners and to work together toward a common goal,” he said in an email on Tuesday. “It is prudent in my opinion for them to take more time to consider that, with a decision perhaps next week.”

The Reform Democrats are offering a slate they call the Fusion Ticket that comprises six Republicans, five Demo crats, and one unaffiliated candidate. In the statement, Ilissa Loewenstein-Meyer, the vice chairwoman, likened the caucus to former Congressman and New York City Mayor Fiorello La Guardia, who, she wrote, “united Republicans, reform-minded Democrats (from whence the East Hampton Reform Demo­crats take their name), and the American Labor Party in an anti-corruption campaign against the powerful New York City Democratic political machine, Tammany Hall. . . . At this critical time in our civic life, the East Hampton Reform Democrats, inspired by La Guardia’s example, are proud to join this year with the East Hampton Republican Party and the East Hampton Independence Party endorsing a common slate of candidates, including eight incumbents” in the Nov. 5 election.  

Ms. Brady, a Democrat, and Ms. Bambrick, who is unaffiliated with a political party, will challenge Councilwoman Sylvia Overby and Mr. Lys, both of whom are seeking re-election on the Democratic ticket. 

For town trustee, the Independence Party nominated all nine of the candidates chosen by the Republicans, two of whom will also run on the Democratic ticket. The Independence candidates are Susan Vorpahl and Jim Grimes, both incumbent Republicans; Dell Cullum and Rick Drew, incumbents who were elected as Democrats; David Talmage and Stephen Lester, both former trustees; Rona Klopman and Mike Havens, both former candidates for trustee, and Fallon Bloecker-Nigro, the daughter of a former trustee.

Both the Democratic and Republican Committees endorsed Mr. Grimes and Mr. Drew. Mr. Cullum did not receive the Democrats’ endorsement. Ms. Klopman ran last year as a Democrat and is affiliated with the Reform Democrats. 

The Independence Party and Reform Democrats endorsed Lisa R. Rana, the longtime town justice, for re-election. She will also appear on the Republican ticket. Also getting the Independence Party and Reform Democrats’ nod is Stephen Lynch, the longtime incumbent superintendent of highways, who will be on the Republican and Democratic tickets. 

Two longtime incumbent assessors, Jill Massa, a Republican, and Jeanne Nielsen, a Democrat, received the Independence, Democratic, Republican, and Reform Democrats’ nods.

Every member of the Independence Party’s committee is opposed to the South Fork Wind Farm, a project initially proposed by Deepwater Wind, Elaine Jones, the party’s chairwoman, told The Star on Monday. In a statement also issued on Monday, Ms. Jones said that, “We believe these candidates will fight for East Hampton against the Deepwater Wind project, not only to protect our fishermen but also for the hamlet of Wainscott and the upheaval that Deepwater will cause.”

Deepwater Wind was renamed Orsted U.S. Offshore Wind after its fall 2018 acquisition by the Danish energy company Orsted. Commercial fishermen oppose the project, as do many residents of Wainscott, where Orsted plans to land the transmission cable for the 15-turbine installation.

In its statement, the Independence Party said it hopes its candidates “will jumpstart a sleeping town board,” and believes that they will “work to promote clean, healthy water,” “affordable housing for our young people and senior citizens,” and “job opportunities for our young people who are forced to leave.” It chose candidates it believes will fight to fix airport noise and work to complete a new senior citizens center.

The Reform Democrats’ nominees “share a longstanding devotion to the local community and the will to address critical local needs,” according to the caucus’s statement, including water quality, emergency communications, and affordable housing. The caucus also opposes the South Fork Wind Farm.