The Choice for East Hampton Town Board

If candidates can be judged by the company they keep, David Lys will be difficult to beat. Aside from winning a lopsided victory over David Gruber in a September primary, he has been vouched for by, among others, Perry B. Duryea III, former town Republican chairman; Alex Walter, a former zoning board chairman who was Supervisor Larry Cantwell’s assistant; Zachary Cohen, a former town supervisor candidate; Tim Taylor, the head of Citizens for Access Rights, and nearly the entire town Democratic power structure and many Republicans alike.

In his close to six years in town government, Mr. Lys, who is running for a one-year term on the East Hampton Town Board, has proven himself thoughtful and hard-working. He does his homework and tries to listen to all sides. 

As have so many office-seekers before him, Mr. Lys has made a point of expressing his concern about affordable housing for the old and for young adults who would like to stay in the community but cannot afford to do so. To answer this need, he points to efforts for dispersed town properties where apartments and single-family housing could be built. Reworking the town’s unpopular accessory apartment rule could also help, he says.

Mr. Lys preaches the importance of exercise and recreation and sees them as a way to improve ties among community residents. If it would take raising taxes to create more parks and better walking trails, he would consider it.

On the environment, Mr. Lys supports the plan for a sewage treatment plant in downtown Montauk. However, he also points to stormwater runoff from roads and parking lots as a major concern. Using technology to map such sites with greater precision might make keeping them functional easier, he says. 

He supports a proposed change that would make resort and hotel owners responsible for providing extra parking when they expand. While Mr. Lys believes that the town’s registry requirement for rental properties is well intentioned, he concedes that its enforcement has been lacking. He would support raising fines for violations to help pay for more staff to make inspections and keep an eye on the Wild West world of online listings, particularly in the high season. 

On erosion control, Mr. Lys believes the owners of threatened properties may soon begin seeking alternatives to standing and fighting nature. These could come in the form of development incentives in which they agree to move a business or residence to higher ground. Summing up his philosophy, Mr. Lys says, “The worst thing a government can do is not to try.”

Facing him in Tuesday’s vote is Manny Vilar, a state parks police officer who took a crack at town supervisor in 2017. Now he is seeking a town board seat, positioning himself as a person who would ask tough questions and try to push the town board toward what he sees as middle ground.

Mr. Vilar has pinned his long-shot campaign on his endorsement by the town’s Republican Committee, unlike Mr. Lys, who is a registered Republican but is backed by the Democratic and Working Families Parties. Mr. Vilar says a monolithic town board is reason for concern, and he may have a point, but he could easily play the role of gadfly from the guest podium at town board meetings — something he has almost never done.

Mr. Vilar is extraordinarily affable and seems to know everyone from Montauk to Albany. These qualities alone do not make an effective town leader. In close observation, his out of balance ratio between noise and answers would not bode well for Town Hall. He seems to find almost everything in town government a big question mark rather than a challenge he might roll up his sleeves to solve. “I don’t know enough to make an informed decision” could be his mantra. Well, we do, and we think East Hampton voters do, too. 

Energetic and with sterling community ties, Mr. Lys is the right person for the job.