Talking Deer and Dustups

This is the second in a series of articles following local candidates on the campaign trail.
Councilman Dominick Stanzione, left, and Town Clerk Fred Overton chatted with Wibke Sullivan of Church Street, East Hampton, on Oct. 9. Stephen J. Kotz

    Fred Overton and Dominick Stanzione, the Republican candidates for East Hampton Town Board, took their lead from Deborah Ann Schwartz, a G.O.P. committee member on Oct. 9 as they embarked on an afternoon of door-to-door campaigning in an East Hampton Village neighborhood that could have been used as the backdrop for the opening scene of “Leave It to Beaver.”

    The first stop on Ms. Schwartz’s itinerary was Tim and Wibke Sullivan’s house on Church Street. “Was this a set up?” joked Mr. Overton when Mr. Sullivan, a stalwart Republican, opened the door and stepped outside to chat.

    But if the candidates thought they were going to get off easy, with a “Good luck!” and promise from Mr. Sullivan to vote for them, they were mistaken. Instead, Mr. Sullivan wanted to discuss the most recent dustup involving outgoing Republican Supervisor Bill Wilkinson and Councilwoman Theresa Quigley and residents of the Beach Hampton neighborhood in Amagansett over a Showtime program that was given a permit for overnight film production.

    The matter had brought a group of angry residents to a September town board meeting, where they complained about the noise and bright lights that kept them awake at night.

    “I don’t know why they just didn’t keep their mouths shut,” said Mr. Sullivan, referring to Mr. Wilkinson and Ms. Quigley, who have made it their business to engage, often angrily, members of the public from the dais. The candidates diplomatically sidestepped the issue and moved on.

    After leaving the Sullivans, the trio walked up Dayton Lane, finding only a couple of people at home, including John Cataletto, who accepted their brochures, with a smile.

    A few minutes later, the campaigners had made their way across Toilsome Lane, where they greeted Sherrill Dayton, who was busy putting cedar railings on his back porch.

    “You got your passport to come up here?” he asked with a broad grin as he greeted Mr. Overton, a Springs native, who only left town long enough to serve for years in the Navy during the Vietnam War.

    Mr. Overton, who was an aviation electrician assigned to a helicopter squadron based in Pensecola, Fla., said that during his naval career he was stationed on a ship for all of seven days. At least it was a big one: the U.S.S. Lexington, an aircraft carrier that was moored near the base and used for pilots practicing their landings. “They didn’t have enough fuel to get back so they had to land on the deck,” said Mr. Overton, who spent that week assigned to a helicopter prepared to rescue any pilots who missed their mark and wound up in the sea.

    After a stint in private business, including when he was a partner in an International truck and parts dealership in Amagansett, Mr. Overton became a town assessor in 1990, and has served 14 years as town clerk.

    Mr. Stanzione, a bond trader when he is not at Town Hall, asked Mr. Dayton if he was troubled by deer foraging in his garden. As many as 19 pass through regularly, he was told. Mr. Stanzione responded that he had led the effort on the town’s part to craft a new deer management plan, something the village is considering as well.

    Deer remained on the agenda as the candidates made their way down Meadow Way, stopping to talk with Ken Brown, a retired East Hampton Village police captain.

    “About 13 of them any given day,” he responded when asked if he saw many in the neighborhood. “They walk down the street like they own the place.”

    “We’ve got to do something,” said Mr. Stanzione. “I agree with the mayor,” referring to East Hampton Village Mayor Paul F. Rickenbach Jr., who has supported an initiative to reduce the deer herd by culling and sterilization. Mr. Stanzione says he would like the town to also reduce its deer population, citing the animals as health and safety hazards for the diseases they carry and accidents they cause.

    Both men agreed that the village’s plan is going to be controversial. “And you’re going to have an argument too,” Mr. Brown said as the candidates turned to leave.