Two years ago, we did not support Rick Drew for re-election as an East Hampton Town Trustee. That was then, when he had let his enthusiasm carry him away in leading a series of meetings about the proposed Deepwater Wind. Though the trustees’ authority concerning the project was extremely narrow — the cable carrying electricity would have been laid about 30 feet beneath a Wainscott beach that the trustees own — he allowed the proceedings to drift into a broad referendum on wind power in general.
In doing so, he crossed the line into personal advocacy, seeming to speak for the trustees as a whole when he did not. As much as his personal ideas came into play, as an elected official it would have been better for Mr. Drew to represent the consensus of the nine trustees, if they had had one at the time. It was a great debate anyway, but the town Democratic Committee passed him over — in exceedingly shoddy fashion — toeing the party line on alternative energy having been a kind of litmus test.
Early voting begins on Saturday, and Mr. Drew’s name will appear on the Independence Party ballot line. He deserves a close look. His attendance record at trustee meetings is near-perfect, unlike some members past and present who seem to believe that showing up is optional. He has been a sharp eye on clean-water initiatives; importantly at Georgica Pond. He has been an energetic, engaged trustee and has earned back our endorsement.
Among the others seeking re-election, there are plenty of standouts. Under Trustee Clerk Francis Bock’s leadership, the body has become a stronger advocate for East Hampton’s most cherished natural resources, its bays, harbors, and beaches. Susan McGraw Keber has gone all in on eliminating helium balloons thought to be harmful to sea turtles and other wildlife. The incumbents, Deputy Clerk Jim Grimes, John Aldred, and Tim Garneau have brought differing but valuable professional experience to the board. Bill Taylor has intimate knowledge of both town waterways and town politics, this last a highly important asset.
Among the challengers, David H. Talmage has served before and would be a voice for a healthy, old-school distrust of New York State authorities, who try to usurp trustee power at every opportunity; we also like that there has been a Talmage town trustee on and off since the 17th century. Rounding out our endorsements for 2021 is Ben Dollinger, who is in his first term, a Montauk resident, and interested in trustee outreach, especially in schools, climate change, and public access.