If East Hampton Town Supervisor Bill Wilkinson ever thought he had a mandate to do more than complete the work of correcting the financial chaos of the Bill McGintee-era, he can no longer make that assumption following his apparent narrow election victory over Zach Cohen on Tuesday.
As the poll results came in, it was clear that Mr. Wilkinson’s support had shrunk from the election of 2009. That a relative unknown like Mr. Cohen could come so close to defeating him attests to the dissatisfaction of many voters with the supervisor’s record over the last two years.
If any message for Mr. Wilkinson can be discerned from the outcome, it is that East Hampton residents want town government to change direction. The specifics may be subject to conjecture, but the consistent theme that has emerged during his term is that the supervisor and his Republican majority must do a better job of listening to constituents rather than dictating to them.
At its best, elected office is an honor conferred by the voters on those whom they consider best represent their interests. This cannot be ignored by whoever is confirmed as the victor once the absentee ballots are counted.