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As Democrats Kick Off Campaign, Burke-Gonzalez Says She’s ‘Ready, Excited’

Thu, 06/22/2023 - 11:06
East Hampton Democrats gathered to launch their campaign at the Clubhouse on Friday, joined by Ann Welker, second from right, a Southampton Town trustee who is running for county legislator.
Durell Godfrey

Emphasizing their slogan “Leadership That Unites,” the East Hampton Democratic Committee formally launched its 2023 campaign on Friday at the Clubhouse in Wainscott.

With a 5-to-0 supermajority on the town board and all nine incumbent town trustees either Democrats or cross-endorsed by the Democratic Committee, the tone was high-spirited and confident, with the caveat that months of hard work are ahead.

“We have an amazing slate of candidates this year,” Anna Skrenta, the committee’s chairwoman, told a large crowd that included elected officials, candidates, committee members, and their supporters. “We couldn’t be more excited, and we are ready to get to work to get these folks elected.”

Councilwoman Kathee Burke-Gonzalez is the Democrats’ candidate for supervisor, and another incumbent, Councilman David Lys, is up for re-election. Tom Flight, a Montauk resident and member of that hamlet’s school board, is a first-time candidate for town board. Incumbent town trustees who are seeking re-election — Francis Bock, Bill Taylor, John Aldred, David Cataletto, and Tim Garneau — were on hand, as were the trustee candidates Celia Josephson and Patrice Dalton. David Filer, the Democrats’ candidate for town justice, attended, as did Suffolk County Legislator Bridget Fleming, who is not seeking re-election, and the candidate who hopes to succeed her, Southampton Town Trustee Ann Welker.

“As Democrats, we need to be united and we need to support each other, and we’re so grateful you’re here,” Ms. Burke-Gonzalez told the crowd. “You’re the wind beneath our wings to get us elected come November.”

Following Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc’s announcement that he would not seek re-election and the subsequent declaration of her candidacy, “I’ve gotten a number of questions,” Ms. Burke-Gonzalez said. “People are asking me, ‘Do you really want to do it?’ and ‘Are you prepared to be supervisor?’ And I just want everyone to know here and now, yes and yes. I am ready, and I’m excited. That is partly because, look at the tremendous team I get to work with, of these incredible individuals that have different life experiences, different educational backgrounds.”

“We’re here to lead — and listen,” she said, “because, really, we learn more when we listen. We want to make sure that this community remains a beautiful and healthy and extraordinary place to live, work, and raise our families, and we do that when we hear your voices and you share with us what you want to see for the future of East Hampton.”

Ms. Burke-Gonzalez “is the hardest working woman” at Town Hall, Mr. Lys said. “What’s so great to see is that the fabric of East Hampton, the community, is standing in front of me smiling. . . . When we look around in here, what we see are dedicated individuals that want to make East Hampton wonderful. People that volunteer in the fire department, in the Rotary, in the Lions Club, going all the way down the list. . . . Leadership that unites under Kathee is going to be spectacular.”

Of Mr. Flight, Mr. Lys said that “The only job tougher than East Hampton Town council member is a school board member. . . . I look forward to seeing Tom work as hard in the East Hampton Town government as he does at the school board.”

“I throw myself into trying to help the communities I live in, and that’s something that I’ve enjoyed immensely,” Mr. Flight said. “Across the way, I’ve made many friends. Slowly but surely, I got pulled into this.” He referred to the town board’s efforts to obtain Covid-19 vaccines and set up a vaccination center during the pandemic. “I really saw how there’s ways to do more for the community if you get more involved,” he said.

His grandparents and parents instilled the principle to “always leave things better than you find them,” he said. “I think a lot of us have become very focused on the self. And, you know, community is incredibly important. . . . So with fantastic leadership, fantastic partnership, I really look forward to do my most to help make this community the best it can be.”

Ms. Skrenta acknowledged Jeanne Frankl, a longtime chairwoman of the committee who died on June 9. “She was a giant among us,” she said. “Under her leadership, this town went from roaring red to beautifully blue, and we miss Jeanne dearly.”

“We are blue out here for a reason,” Mr. Lys said. “We are blue out here because we are strong.”

The East Hampton Town Republican Committee held its campaign launch in April.

Election Day is Nov. 7.

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