Before a crowd of friends, family, and old colleagues from across the local political spectrum, Larry Cantwell, the East Hampton Village administrator, announced his candidacy for East Hampton Town supervisor Friday at the Highway Diner in East Hampton, saying he hopes to win support from the Democratic and Independence Parties.
State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr., who once endorsed Republican Supervisor Bill Wilkinson, introduced Mr. Cantwell, offering a biting critique of where East Hampton Town finds itself today, and strong praise for the man who hopes to change that.
“East Hampton Town used to have a leadership position on eastern Long Island. East Hampton was the first, and other towns would look to see what East Hampton was doing,” said Mr. Thiele, a member of the Independence Party who has known Mr. Cantwell since high school. “That’s not the case anymore.” The town, he said, needs to return to the kind of leadership it had under “Judith Hope, Cathy Lester, and Tony Bullock. . . . We need to go back to the future for the Town of East Hampton and to do that, we don’t need a DeLorean or a flux capacitor, we just need a leader.”
“I look forward to a campaign on the serious issues we are now facing. To resolve these critical issues, we need a leader now more than ever who is a consensus builder,” Mr. Cantwell said, then offered a rough sketch of his platform.
“We need to adopt a mitigation and recovery plan to protect against the threat of coastal erosion and sea-level rise,” he said. “We need a strong consensus to maintain a small safe airport and a clear strategy to reduce noise impacts on residential neighborhoods. We need to invest in technology to make town government more efficient in serving the public. We need a long-term capital plan to address the town’s rapidly deteriorating infrastructure. We need a town supervisor who believes in and supports planning and zoning. We must protect our residential neighborhoods for the peaceful enjoyment of all residents, preserving open space and protecting our drinking water and harbors from pollution. We must support local businesses. Believing in planning and zoning and supporting local business should not be mutually exclusive.”
He spoke of a “negative cloud” hanging over town workers, of neighborhoods “under siege with noise and overflow parking from nightclubs and overcrowded houses,” and said, “I will not play party politics to reward special interests while disregarding the rights of all our residents and the best interests of the community as a whole.”
Mr. Cantwell, who will retire as village administrator this summer after 31 years, served on the town board and as a town bay constable before being hired by the village. He also ran unsuccessfully for town supervisor. He has been the village’s chief financial officer, and, he said, “during this time the village maintained a budget surplus every year for three decades.”
Among those also there to support Mr. Cantwell were Christopher Kelley, a powerful player in East Hampton’s Democratic Party, Barbara Borsack, an East Hampton Village Board member, Bruce Collins, a former Republican town supervisor, and Roger Walker, a former East Hampton Town justice who ran for supervisor on the Republican ticket. “It’s very refreshing to have him in the race,” Mr. Walker said. “I will support him 100 percent.”
The East Hampton Town Democratic Committee has yet to make its nominations for supervisor, town board, or any other position, but Zachary Cohen, who was the party’s supervisor candidate in 2011 and lost by only 15 votes, is still in strong pursuit of the nomination this year. The party generally holds its nominating convention in May, when all 38 committee people can cast votes on the recommendations of the smaller screening committee.