Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman, who was the East Hampton Town Republicans’ top choice to run for supervisor this year, announced Monday that he will instead seek a sixth and final term in the Legislature, leaving Republicans to seek out a new candidate to lead their ticket.
“It was not an easy decision,” Mr. Schneiderman said Monday. “Ultimately I came to the conclusion that I could still do a lot for the community at the county level.”
Kurt Kappel, chairman of the East Hampton Town Republican Committee, said Monday that he was disappointed, but that the party still had plenty of time to find a replacement supervisor candidate. “We’re not being lazy about it, but it’s not like we’re in panic mode.”
In fact, the East Hampton Town Democratic Committee is still in the process of screening candidates for its ticket and often does not hold its nominating convention until May. Larry Cantwell, the East Hampton Village administrator and a town board member years ago, has made no secret of the fact that he’s considering a run for supervisor.
“My friends in the G.O.P. have managed to insult their current supervisor and nominate a candidate who isn’t running,” Mr. Cantwell said yesterday. “I hope they nominate a strong candidate because the people deserve a lively debate of the serious issues we face as a community.” Mr. Cantwell will retire from his village post this summer.
The Democrats also have a strong potential candidate in Zachary Cohen, who lost to Mr. Wilkinson by just 15 votes in 2011.
“My goal has always been, and continues to be, to seek the nomination for supervisor,” Mr. Cohen said by e-mail yesterday. “In the last election, I was honored to receive this nomination from the local Democratic, Independence, and Working Families Parties.”
Both of the G.O.P.’s chosen candidates for town board — Councilman Dominick Stanzione and Fred Overton, the town clerk — might be considered for supervisor, Mr. Kappel said.
Mr. Overton said Monday that he is open to the idea. “I’ll see what input I can get from family and friends and what sort of team I could put together. . . . It’s not a decision I’m going to rush into.”
Mr. Stanzione, who is finishing his first term in office, did not return calls by press time. Supervisor Bill Wilkinson, a Republican, has said he does not wish to run for re-election, but did not respond to a request for comment.
“I think a lot of people, when they heard Jay was going to screen, felt he was going to be a good candidate so they didn’t come forward,” Mr. Kappel said.
Mr. Overton, the town clerk for 14 years, was one of them. “I hadn’t given it any serious consideration. . . . Not only was there Jay, but Bill hadn’t said he wouldn’t run.”
Mr. Schneiderman was the only candidate East Hampton Republicans interviewed for the supervisor slot.
Asked if he felt he had burned a bridge with the East Hampton G.O.P., Mr. Schneiderman said, “I hope not. I feel like I have been honest with them. . . . A lot of this period, I was almost sure I was going to run for supervisor.”
That job is more constant and more demanding than being a legislator, he said, but he also “asked myself, ‘Am I going backwards rather than forwards?’ ”
A prepared statement on his decision to run for legislator sent out Monday morning included what can only be seen as an early endorsement from Democratic County Executive Steve Bellone: “I am grateful that Legislator Schneiderman has chosen to seek re-election. Jay is a strong voice and a relentless advocate for the East End. As we work to put our finances in order, deliver services more efficiently, and rebuild after Sandy, I need Jay Schneiderman’s voice in the Legislature.” Mr. Schneiderman was first elected to the Legislature as a Republican, but joined the Independence Party midway through his tenure and now caucuses with the Democrats.
Not only does he have greater short-term job stability as legislator — he won overwhelmingly in 2011 and ran unopposed in 2009 — but if re-elected he might also be in a good position to work on some of the very issues he had hoped to tackle if he returned to Town Hall. Top among them, he said, is “rebuilding the beach in downtown Montauk.”
His children factored into his decision, too. The 24/7 schedule of a town supervisor is less conducive to family life, he said, but he is not ruling out a run at some point in the future, “when my kids are a little older.”
East Hampton Republicans have Steve Lynch, the highway superintendent, running for a second term, Carol Brennan, the deputy town clerk, on tap to replace Mr. Overton, Carl Irace, a former town attorney, for town justice, and Joe Bloecker, a trustee, for assessor. They have also nominated the four incumbent Republican trustees who plan to run again. That leaves them with five more trustee candidates to choose, along with a supervisor nominee and potentially another nominee for town board.