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Choices for Suffolk

Thu, 11/02/2023 - 05:45


Ann Welker, a Democrat, and Manny Vilar, the chairman of the East Hampton Town Republican Committee, are the contenders for Suffolk County legislator in District 2. Ms. Welker, a Southampton Town trustee since 2018, has been a strong advocate for the environment and has been able to work across borders with her counterparts in East Hampton Town. Our part of Suffolk mostly depends on the county to keep after some roads, deal with public health, and protect groundwater. Ms. Welker has proven well poised to advocate for the East End getting its much-deserved share of attention.

Having followed Mr. Vilar for years, we believe we are in a good position to explain why he is the lesser choice. For one, he has held no elected office, though not for want of trying; he lost in a bid for East Hampton Town supervisor in 2017 and again for an open town board seat in 2018. Mr. Vilar is an affable person, full of smiles when one meets him in the street. This friendliness contrasts sharply with his online statements. On Facebook and elsewhere he has reposted dehumanizing memes about Democrats and likened Black Lives Matter demonstrators to rioters. What’s more, Mr. Vilar’s claim of legislative prowess gained as the head of a state police union no one has ever heard of is less than inspiring.

His candidacy points to a problem facing a Republican Party unwilling to disassociate itself from the “Make America Great Again” crowd. In statements after the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection, Mr. Vilar appeared to place the blame for the Capitol riot on liberal infiltrators and repeated the former president’s lies alleging voting irregularities and “possible criminal activities in several states.”

In the race for Suffolk County executive, Ed Romaine has slogged long and hard through the politics of the western half of the county. He was elected as Brookhaven Town supervisor in 2012, and before that was the county clerk for 16 years and a member of the Suffolk Legislature. The East End might get more attention from a new face as county executive, that is, Dave Calone, a Democrat, but Mr. Romaine, a Republican, has the experience to keep county spending under control and its work on track.

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