Early voting begins Saturday, and with it the direction of East Hampton Town government comes into play. Not only is the supervisor’s seat up, but two of the four council members’ seats are also up this time. This is a big deal at a time of big challenges. Among the issues that the board will have to continue to struggle with are the airport, housing more of the work force locally, and sea level rise, with its resulting beach loss. Add to this the fact that East Hampton has become over-built and that its infrastructure, from water supplies to roads, has not been able to keep pace. Now is not a moment for narrowly focused elected officials.
Setting aside the supervisor’s race and with the future in mind, Cate Rogers and John Whelan are the right choice for town board. Ms. Rogers is broadly experienced and has made climate change a big part of her life’s work. Mr. Whelan has been a stalwart leader of the town zoning board of appeals (of which Ms. Rogers was a longtime vice chairwoman), which means that they both have frontline experience with real-world policy implications.
Kathee Burke-Gonzalez is the sole incumbent, Councilman Jeff Bragman having been given the boot by the Democratic committee. She is likeable, but appears cautious to a fault, particularly on airport matters; she, like the supervisor, wants more study. In her two terms, she has made the town’s older residents a focus, but only now, eight years later, is the construction of a much-needed new senior citizens center getting close.
Ours is a time when the very sense of place here is under attack. It is time for the smart, aggressive, visionary leadership of the sort Ms. Rogers and Mr. Whelan can provide.