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May 19, 2009 6:27 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Wilkinson is concerned about Zwirn's record on firings

May 19, 2009 6:27 PM

Republican Town Supervisor candidate Bill Wilkinson said this week that he welcomes debate with newly selected Democratic Town Supervisor candidate Ben Zwirn, but he said that many of Mr. Zwirn’s ideas seem to echo plans put forward earlier this year by Republicans, who announced their slate of candidates in March.

Mr. Wilkinson said that he was most concerned by Mr. Zwirn’s apparent about-face on the issue of laying off workers to balance the town’s budget. Mr. Zwirn had been a member of a citizen’s ad hoc committee on town finances convened in January by former Town Board member Debra Foster, and had bragged to that committee that, while he was supervisor of the Town of North Hempstead in the early 1990s, he had personally interviewed every employee, ending patronage jobs and eliminating 42 percent of the town’s workforce.

Mr. Wilkinson said before Mr. Zwirn became a candidate, he had said that “similar efficiencies” could be applied to East Hampton’s finances. Now, he said, Mr. Zwirn is singing Mr. Wilkinson’s tune by proposing a hiring freeze instead.

“My professional expertise is 35 years of human resources experience,” said Mr. Wilkinson, who is the retired human resources director for the Walt Disney Company. “The first thing we do when we see trouble is a hiring freeze.”

Mr. Wilkinson added that he would only interview every employee in town in an attempt to improve morale.

Mr. Wilkinson also championed the GOP’s record on land preservation, recalling that former Republican State Assemblyman Perry Duryea and his successor, Fred W. Thiele Jr., had both played vital roles in early land preservation efforts in East Hampton.

“A Republican Town Board implemented the Community Preservation Fund,” he added. “Jay Schneiderman did the first purchases.”

“There are a number of towns that will never have a CPF because of this administration,” he said of the current Democratic board.

Mr. Wilkinson said that one of his top priorities is to make the town’s Natural Resources Department a free-standing department again, after the current Town Board moved several members of its staff to the town’s Planning Department.

He said that his move was not designed to protect Natural Resources Director Larry Penny, who believes that the Town Board’s move was retribution for his run on the Republican Party line against Councilman Brad Loewen, but to ensure that the department does its job as effectively as possible.

“I’ve studied organization design all my life. I’m not evaluating Larry in any way,” he said. “I want the department moved back to the way it should be.”

Mr. Wilkinson added that Republicans had early on stated that one of their primary planks would be to repeal the town’s new $25 beach sticker as soon as they are elected. Mr. Zwirn last week said that he would also like to repeal the sticker fee.

“I welcome him joining us on all these issues,” Mr. Wilkinson said of his opponent. “This is not about politics. It is about new leadership.”

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Right on Wilkinson! We're behind you 110% we know you can get the job done and try to pick up the pieces that the current administration is leaving being. Can't wait for November... Keep up the good work!
By pine1217 (6), EH on May 20, 09 4:34 PM
amen ,pine1217!!!
By montauk resident (41), montauk on May 20, 09 6:53 PM
Incentive to leave, not firing
By eastend09 (43), east hampton on Mar 9, 10 7:04 PM