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Trustees Change Needed

Wed, 05/08/2019 - 15:57

In the absence of a meaningful top-of-the-ticket campaign for East Hampton Town Board this year, the time is right for voters to focus their attention on how the town trustees are chosen. Nine in all, the trustees’ seats are up for election together every two years. That sometimes means 18 or more candidates from among whom the electorate is supposed to choose — a near impossibility even for the most dedicated political observer. Voters often make decisions on whose name sounds most Bonac, forget about qualifications or even if an incumbent trustee has a poor record of attending the panel’s meetings. 

Changing the way the trustees are elected would require a public referendum, not a simple process, but one whose moment has arrived. As environmental challenges grow, greater attention to the trustees and their role as protectors of most of the town’s public lands, including beaches, bays, and harbors as well as ancient woodland roads, is needed more than ever. If those favoring staggered terms for the trustees frame a referendum in terms of improving stewardship of natural places and sustainable use of resources, it would be a sure winner.

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