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Under the Bus

Wed, 02/24/2021 - 17:54


It is unfortunate that the East Hampton Town Democratic Committee decided to throw Councilman Jeff Bragman overboard by not nominating him to seek another term for asking too many questions. That is what it comes down to: Mr. Bragman consistently got under Town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc’s skin. And among other members of the board there was a sense that he did not work well with others. But in political office, not getting along can often be the point. On a 5-to-0 Democratic town board, Mr. Bragman was what amounted to the sole dissenting voice. He was also the only obvious check on the impulse to improperly discuss town business in secret. And for this he only received the supervisor’s ire.

In what should have rightly been Mr. Bragman’s spot on the November ballot, the local Democratic Committee instead decided to opt for Cate Rogers. This did not come as a surprise. Ms. Rogers, who has run for town office before, also was the committee’s chairwoman. We suppose that she would make a fine councilwoman. The problem is that the committee took it upon itself to reject the voters’ will from when Mr. Bragman was put into office four years ago.

Mr. Bragman’s ouster seems to have been at the supervisor’s behest. Mr. Van Scoyoc is seeking re-election to a second term. It is difficult to suppose that he would have looked forward to campaigning with someone with whom he sparred relentlessly over even the most minor matters.

Voters might not expect much of an alternative from the Republican Committee. Its record in recent elections has been uninspiring, and viable candidates who might otherwise run for East Hampton Town Board could be turned off by the committee’s hard-right leadership. And now, after pressure from Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, there is a higher bar for third parties to get a ballot line. Given that, the likelihood of a continued Democratic-majority town board is all but assured.

Something more needs to happen. Mr. Bragman might consider a primary challenge or running as a member of the Independence Party. Others might step into the race as well. We have felt for years that a Green Party slate of candidates would spice things up. If any of this happens, it would be good for the town. One-party rule, especially among officials more concerned about getting along than open and fair discussion, invites abuses. Petulance among Democratic Party leaders should not have been a part of the committee’s decision on its choice of nominees. It would have been far better left to voters to decide.

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