Decrying “this headache called politics,” Dell Cullum, an East Hampton Town Trustee who was elected in 2017 on the Democratic Party line but was not chosen by the party to be on its slate this year, said this week that he would not run for re-election. He will appear on the Conservative and Independence Party tickets in the Nov. 5 election, however, and would not say whether or not he would serve if re-elected.
An advocate for wildlife and a crusader against litter, Mr. Cullum, who is backed by the splinter group calling itself the East Hampton Reform Democrats, said yesterday that he ran for trustee in an effort to compel East Hampton Village and the town to remove trash receptacles from the beaches, arguing that cans on the beaches, as opposed to at the road ends or in parking lots, inevitably result in debris strewn across wide areas of the beach and in the water.
The trustees have jurisdiction over many of the town’s common lands, including beaches, on behalf of residents. The East Hampton Village Board, amid ongoing consultations with the trustees, implemented a pilot program this season at Georgica Beach, in which the trash receptacles were removed from the beach and placed at the road end. The program was expanded to Wiborg Beach midway through the season. The village board is monitoring both beaches to gauge the program’s success in reducing litter, Becky Hansen, the village administrator, said yesterday.
“I think trash cans are pretty much on their last day on the beach, after this season,” Mr. Cullum said yesterday. “So there’s no need for me to be involved in this headache called politics, because it’s just not my game.” He said he would not have run for office but for the issue of trash receptacles on beaches. “I thought there was an opportunity to get those cans off this past season,” he said, “but I feel like they” — the trustees — “like to dance around issues as well, and I’m not a dancer. I go in, I want to solve the issues.” The trustees, he said, are “too concerned with their relationship with the village and the town, but they should be a separate entity and not concerned about those other government bodies.”
“Butting heads with the guys on trash cans on the beach, I think I’ve exhausted what I can do over there,” he said of his colleagues. “I’ve done what I promised. I supported the baymen. . . . I continued to clean beaches every day. That gave me satisfaction that I was doing something that the trustees wouldn’t keep me from doing. So I don’t feel bad for that. However . . . I’ve seen too much, stuff I don’t want to see and don’t want to talk about now, as far as how they conduct themselves.” He alleged that the trustees hold meetings without the public’s knowledge and complained about nepotism, although he did not provide details. “I don’t want to address that now,” he said, “but I don’t want to be involved in it.”
An official at the Suffolk County Board of Elections confirmed yesterday that Mr. Cullum will be on the ballot in November. Mr. Cullum, who earned the fourth-highest number of votes among 18 candidates for trustee in 2017 despite not campaigning for the position, said he is “prepared” for re-election, “but will wait until the time comes. I love a surprise. I’m not going to say either way. We’ll see what happens.”
He is presently launching a nonprofit organization called Wildlife Rescue of East Hampton, Inc., the mission statement of which is “Leaving no animal to suffer, or without help.” The group is to have a trained wildlife rescue responder on call 24 hours a day, every day of the year, to respond to calls within the town from police and other emergency officials, as well as from the public.