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No Contest for Town Board

Thu, 11/02/2023 - 05:46


In the election concluding on Tuesday, the outcome for East Hampton Town Board, including the supervisor’s post, seems preordained and that is a bad thing. In the Democratic echo chamber in Town Hall, there has been a troubling lack of the kind of constructive dissent that board members from other political parties could have provided. Regrettably, the opposition Republican candidates for town board have not measured up, other than as critics. Leadership is about finding solutions; just about anyone can point out problems.

The thinking that the East Hampton G.O.P. candidates should gain experience by first serving on one of the town’s appointed boards should be rejected. Had Gretta Leon, Scott Smith, and Michael Wootton explained what they would do differently, they would have been a much more convincing slate.

Two Democratic candidates have the advantage of incumbency — Councilwoman Kathee Burke-Gonzalez is seeking a new role as supervisor — and seem to have played it that way, strategically keeping a low profile during the campaign to avoid gaffes that might have endangered their election chances. This has meant that the challengers have been punching at ghosts. But on the other hand, it is not up to one political party to educate the other; that is the challengers’ responsibility.

Ms. Burke-Gonzalez will probably cruise into the supervisor’s office. David Lys will most likely hold onto his spot on the town board. Tom Flight is the standout among the other three candidates. Though he, too, is a relative newcomer, Mr. Flight has spoken about what he would try to do if elected, notably in balancing environmental concerns with the pressing need for housing alternatives. And he sees new opportunities for local designers, architects, and tradespeople in creating incentives for energy-conscious accessory dwellings for older residents. He also gains points for being a small-business owner, a member of the Montauk School Board since 2016, and an emergency medical technician with the Montauk Fire Department.

Ms. Burke-Gonzalez would remain a steady presence in Town Hall and is an obvious choice to move into the supervisor’s position. David Lys has been terrifically active in the community since being appointed to the board in January 2018 then winning in a landslide in a special election that November. With Ms. Burke-Gonzalez’s seat becoming vacant if she is sworn in to the top job, the Democrats should name someone to it who comes from beyond their close ranks, a qualified Republican, even. Wouldn’t that be something!


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