Voting for East Hampton Town Board on Tuesday is crucially important as much for who is not running as for who is. Town Councilwoman Theresa Quigley, who has two years left in her term, has been at the nexus of most of the truly dreadful initiatives the town board has taken up since the beginning of 2010. Look at any of the many efforts to weaken zoning, politicize land preservation, or pay back political supporters and friends, and her imprint is all over the place. This is why bare-knuckle toughness is called for now.
The Wilkinson majority’s regressive ideology must be seen for what it is. Some voters who remain furious about the McGintee deficit debacle nevertheless call Mr. Wilkinson the worst town supervisor ever, but what they really are responding to is a board majority that has lost sight of what is truly important here: community, quality of life, and preserving the sense of place, which is dependent on our natural resources.
Six candidates are in the running for two seats. They are, on the Independence line, Marilyn Behan and Bill Mott; for the Republicans, Richard Haeg and Steven Gaines, and for the Democrats, Sylvia Overby and Peter Van Scoyoc. They can be quickly divided into two sets: those who know what they are talking about and those who don’t. Mr. Van Scoyoc, Ms. Overby, and Mr. Mott are in the first group; Mr. Haeg, Ms. Behan, and Mr. Gaines in the second.
In Mr. Gaines’s case, this may not be a fatal flaw. He has made a point of admitting that he is a newcomer to East Hampton government, and his intelligence and honesty about it is welcome. If he does not prevail Tuesday, we would encourage the next town board to consider him for an appointed position right away.
Mr. Mott, the only elected official in the running, has been a Republican town trustee for 12 years. He knows whereof he speaks, is an advocate for the environment, and would help restore smooth relations with his former board. He has had valuable experience in working with the public and would be an asset on the board. Mr. Van Scoyoc, with long experience on the town zoning and planning boards, is studiously nonpartisan, thinks long term, is highly intelligent, and speaks from the heart. Ms. Overby led the Amagansett citizens committee, was on the town planning board, knows the town code backward and forward, and brooks no nonsense.
Any of the three are well worth electing. They have the backbone needed to help put Town Hall back on the right track, even if they wind up in a minority position.
Our endorsement goes to Mr. Van Scoyoc and Mr. Mott, for reasons of political balance, though we would be pleased as well if Ms. Overby was a winner.