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Scanning the Village Candidates

Wed, 08/26/2020 - 19:03


Voting by absentee ballot has already begun in a rare, contested East Hampton Village Board election. And in the last weeks of a very long campaign, village voters will be paying close attention. Here’s what they might look for.

Among the three candidates for mayor, the choices are a continuation of the current, measured approach with Barbara Borsack, change, but not too much, with Tiger Graham, and a free-for-all of more and different commercial uses in the village with Jerry Larsen, or something like that.

Despite two years of campaigning, it is still difficult to figure out just why Mr. Larsen, who rented an apartment above Mary’s Marvelous on Newtown Lane in order to qualify to run for office, wants the post so badly, and it is impossible to overlook the fact that he remains an employee of the village’s largest taxpayer, the billionaire dealmaker Ronald Perelman. Not long ago, Mr. Perelman settled a protracted battle with the village after he was caught with numerous structures without permits and clearing too much land at his Creeks estate on Georgica Pond.

Mr. Larsen as mayor is out of the question. He says he is running against the “village of ‘no’ “; we believe a majority of residents think “no” is the right answer to relentless development and looming commercialization of business district-edge properties. Note, too, that his campaign manager is  associated with the Hedges Inn, which has battled the village in an effort to host more weddings and outdoor events over opposition from neighbors. Village voters should see a theme here.

The election is Sept. 15. There is still time for properly registered residents to choose between Ms. Borsack and Mr. Graham for mayor. We will have more to say on this next week. As to the candidates for trustee, there are plenty. Ray Harden and Rick Lawler are incumbents, albeit that Mr. Harden was appointed to the post earlier this year after Mayor Paul F. Rickenbach stepped down. They, along with Ms. Borsack, are running as the Elms Party.

Mr. Graham and David Driscoll, a retired New York City police inspector, make up the Fish Hooks Party. Mr. Larsen’s NewTown Party running mates are Chris Minardi, who is a member of the village zoning board, and Sandra Melendez, a young lawyer. Mr. Lawler, the current mayor and another ex-cop, would return as a trustee.

Among the new  trustee hopefuls, only Mr. Driscoll has appeared publicly to show much interest in winning, and to have actually studied village issues; the others look all but indifferent or haven’t been heard from at all. There is still time to correct that. They are compelling candidates, but need in this last period before the ballots are due to step up, speak out, and make cases for themselves.

This has been updated to correct David Driscoll's job title with the New York City Police Department.

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