Zachary Cohen Could Mount Primary for Democratic Nomination

Zachary Cohen has said that he looked forward to a primary to run for town councilman in November. Carissa Katz

With its endorsement of Jeffrey Bragman for town councilman, the East Hampton Town Democratic Committee’s screening committee has signed off on a slate of candidates for town board and other townwide offices, but a primary challenge could be in the works.

In choosing Mr. Bragman, an attorney, the screening committee passed over a perennial contender, Zachary Cohen of Springs, who ran a tight race for town supervisor in 2011 and had announced his intention to seek a town board nomination last month.

This week, Mr. Cohen seemed poised to push for a primary. Nominations will be voted on by the full committee at a nominating convention on May 17, when supporters of Mr. Cohen could put his name forward as an alternative.

“We had 10 qualified candidates interview for the town council positions and only two spots to fill,” Jeanne Frankl, the Democratic Committee’s co-chairwoman, said in a release on Monday announcing the screening committee’s picks. “Our interviews and deliberations have taken over two months, but we are extremely happy with the outcome and believe we have qualified, experienced people who know the issues and know how to formulate policies to deal with those issues.”

If he wins the nomination, Mr. Bragman would share the ticket with Councilman Peter Van Scoyoc, who is running for supervisor, and Councilwoman Kathee Burke-Gonzalez, who is seeking a second term.

Selection by the local committee confers no privilege or preferred status, Mr. Cohen said in a statement issued on Monday. “By law, the decision as to the party’s candidate does not lie either with the party committee or with its screening subcommittee, but with the party membership. All party members stand on a completely equal footing in a primary election. . . . I look forward to a fresh, exciting, and vigorous primary campaign that speaks to the issues of concern to East Hampton voters.”

Mr. Cohen, who fell 15 votes short in his 2011 bid to oust Supervisor Bill Wilkinson, called himself “an independent Democrat.” He pointed out his positions on the town’s nature preserve committee, the Suffolk County Tick Control Advisory Committee, and the Peconic Bay Region Community Preservation Fund Advisory Opinions Bureau. He is also advising the town’s airport management advisory committee, he said.

Mr. Bragman has represented the town’s architectural review board, zoning board of appeals, and planning board, as well as applicants before various planning and zoning boards. He was also counsel to the North Haven Village Zoning Board of Appeals and served as that village’s attorney. He is also a member of the Peconic Bay Region Community Preservation Fund Advisory Opinions Bureau.

The 2017 campaign will be Mr. Bragman’s first foray into politics.

“This year was amazing and I have to believe it has something to do with people’s outrage about the current president and the state of affairs nationally,” Ms. Frankl said in the statement on Monday, referring to the number of people interested in running for town office.

The three Democrats are expected to face Manny Vilar, the East Hampton Town Republican Committee’s nominee for supervisor, and Jerry Larsen and Paul Giardina, its candidates for town board.

The Democrats’ screening committee also recommended four incumbents for re-election: Town Clerk Carole Brennan, East Hampton Town Justice Steven Tekulsky, Eugene DePasquale for assessor, and Steve Lynch, a Republican whom the Democrats cross-endorsed for superintendent of highways.

“I am so honored to have received the support of the screening committee and look forward to running with Kathee and Jeff,” Mr. Van Scoyoc said in a statement. “I am proud of my 16-year record of leadership in East Hampton Town government protecting our natural resources, open space, and environment. I will continue to work to improve and protect water quality, achieve relief for those affected by aircraft noise, and combat threats to our quality of life throughout the town.”

“While tremendous challenges lie ahead, I have proven that I have what it takes to lead,” Ms. Burke-Gonzalez said in a statement of her own. “With community support I hope to continue to bring my energy, experience, and commitment to townwide office for another four years.”