Dems’ Slate Takes Shape

Van Scoyoc and Cohen throw their hats into ring
Councilman Peter Van Scoyoc has announced his intention to seek the position of East Hampton Town supervisor. Durell Godfrey

Although East Hampton Town Dem­ocrats are still interviewing candidates for town board, trustee, and other positions, and are unlikely to announce the party’s full slate until next month, two Demo­crats have announced their intention to run for office.

Peter Van Scoyoc, East Hampton Town’s deputy supervisor, said in an email on Monday that he would seek the office of supervisor in the Nov. 7 election. Supervisor Larry Cantwell announced in January that he would not seek a third two-year term.

Should Mr. Van Scoyoc receive the East Hampton Democratic Committee’s formal endorsement, he is expected to face Manny Vilar, a senior sergeant with the State Parks Police who is seeking the office on the Republican ticket.

On Tuesday, Zachary Cohen, who lost his 2011 bid for supervisor by 15 votes, announced his candidacy for a seat on the town board in an email. Calling himself “an independent Democrat,” he noted his positions on the town’s nature preserve committee, the Suffolk County tick control advisory committee, and the Five Towns Opinions Board of the Community Preservation Fund. He noted that he also advises the town’s airport management advisory committee.

Jeanne Frankl, a co-chairwoman of  the East Hampton Town Democratic Committee, said on Tuesday that the party’s screening process was ongoing. “There’s really no new comment from us,” she said. The process will be completed before the end of this month, she said, and she hopes the nominating convention will be held early in May, ahead of the regular schedule. “We’re eager to get this settled.” 

In addition to Mr. Cantwell, Councilman Fred Overton, an independent, does not plan to seek re-election. Councilwoman Kathee Burke-Gonzalez, a Democrat elected to the town board in 2013 whose term expires at the end of this year, confirmed last month that she has been screened and hopes to keep her seat. Aside from Mr. Cohen, no other Democrat has announced their candidancy for the second seat that will be open on the town board.

The East Hampton Town Republican Committee has endorsed Gerard Larsen, who recently retired as the East Hampton Village police chief, and Paul Giardina, who recently retired from the Environmental Protection Agency, as candidates for the town board. A formal vote on their candidacies was expected last night, Mr. Giardina said in an email on Tuesday.

The three Republican candidates met with residents at Rowdy Hall restaurant in East Hampton on Sunday and have pledged to hold regular meetings to introduce themselves to voters and discuss the issues important to them. On Wednesday at 7 p.m. they will hold a roundtable discussion about the town’s rental registry at the party’s new headquarters, unit 17 at the Red Horse Market complex in East Hampton.

In his statement, Mr. Van Scoyoc said his vision for the town’s future is that it be “forever diligent about protecting our natural resources, open space, and environment,” a future “that includes more opportunities for our residents who want to live and work here and have a place to live,” and in which “we accept our diversity, understand our differences, and work together for the betterment of our community.”

Mr. Van Scoyoc’s statement notes that he has had 16 years of experience as a public official, including six years on the town planning board, five years on the zoning board of appeals, and five years on the town board.

The present town board, he said, has “restored dignity and respect to the process of local government.” Continuing the openness and cooperation that he said now characterize the board “is paramount to producing effective government, an important dynamic that was sorely lacking before the current town board took office, and that is clearly missing in Washington today.”

Mr. Van Scoyoc also cited progress on water quality protection and improvement; open space, environmental restoration, and historic preservation; ensuring continued beach access; addressing coastal erosion, and enforcement of quality of life issues, including “the Montauk party scene.” He pointed to airport noise problems and energy efficiency and sustainability as issues on which the board has acted positively.

Francis Bock, the clerk of the East Hampton Town Trustees, has endorsed Mr. Cohen for town board, as have Loring Bolger, chairwoman of the Springs Citizens Advisory Committee, and David Gruber of the airport management advisory committee.

Mr. Cohen complimented the present town board on environmental issues this week. “I certainly am going to continue all that and have the credibility to support it,” he said yesterday. “I’m a very strong proponent of having a community in residence, not just a community that comes in on weekends and in the summer. That is going to be one of the discussions I want to bring up,” he said, referring to the majority of second homes and the impact on the town’s volunteer fire departments of the scarcity of affordable housing. He also praised residents, saying, “I’ve never lived in a community where there have been so many people who take an active role in helping their neighbor.”