Several East Hampton Republican leaders have made the valid point that the current all-Democratic composition of the town board is problematic, at least potentially. With the exception of Jeff Bragman, rarely is a dissenting or even a questioning voice heard. And as has happened before in cases of a closely aligned political board, too often initiatives can seem to spring fully formed from the back rooms. Working board meetings can seem perfunctory. Various members of the public who take the time to go to Town Hall are apt to leave frustrated and with the feeling that no one is paying attention to their concerns with the necessary seriousness.
Republicans and the area’s smattering of Conservative Party members believe that more representation from the right of the spectrum is needed — as in lower taxes and fewer restrictions on building, the airport, and summer crowds, as long as there is a dollar to be made. That may not be a complete characterization of what the local G.O.P. represents, but that was absolutely the case during the last East Hampton Town Board with a Republican majority.
What really may be needed are views from the left, a more liberal, more pro-environment and anti-growth point of view. Republican or Democrat, neither party has done enough to hold back the changes that are tearing this community apart. Traffic is too much. Overbuilding continues unabated. The airport wreaks havoc on the enjoyment of public places and private backyards. And to add insult to injury, when locals do have time to go to the beach, there is no place to park.
It could well be time for a local version of a Green Party. While there certainly is a need for the opinions of conservatives in town affairs, there is also a need for a party that puts ecology before profits and believes in social justice, nonviolence, and equal rights, a party that is strongly anti-racist and thinks of future generations, drawing more young people into local politics because they believe they will be heard.
If we want to bring back real debate to Town Hall — and who doesn’t? — a new, “green” party might be just the way to do it.