Incumbent East Hampton Town Supervisor Bill Wilkinson, who has yet to announce whether he will seek a third term and has so far refused to screen for his position, has apparently lost the backing of the Town Republican Committee.
In a preliminary vote on February 13, committee members endorsed Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman, an Independence Party member and former East Hampton supervisor, to run on the GOP line, according to a person with knowledge of what transpired at the meeting. That source’s account was confirmed by the committee’s secretary, Carole Campolo.
The Republicans voted last week on candidates who screened for town supervisor, highway superintendent and Trustee, according to committee chairman Kurt Kappel, but he would not release the results of those votes, saying that the committee would wait until it meets again at the end of the month to announce its official slate of candidates.
Mr. Kappel did not close the door entirely on a Wilkinson candidacy, saying that additional screenings could still be undertaken before the slate is finalized.
Meanwhile, Mr. Wilkinson appears to be in no hurry to make his intentions known. “As I said to Kurt Kappel, I hadn’t made my mind up and I wouldn’t make my mind up until the end of February or March,” he said on Monday morning. He also said he had no comment on the committee’s vote.
Mr. Schneiderman, who has publicly expressed a desire to run for his former town post, was the only candidate to screen for supervisor, Mr. Kappel said.
Mr. Wilkinson has so far declined to screen, insisting that his credentials should be apparent to the Republican Party, and he questioned why he would be required to go through the vetting process again.
But Mr. Kappel has countered that all candidates are required to screen, even incumbents. “He never gave any serious indication to the committee or me, the chair, that he wanted to run,” Mr. Kappel said. “And the committee chose that we had to go forward.”
Republican Highway Superintendent Stephen Lynch also was the only one to screen for his position. “I contacted them both, and they were both very appreciative that we took the vote,” Mr. Kappel said of Mr. Schneiderman and Mr. Lynch.
Mr. Schneiderman, who is out of the country on vacation this week, didn’t return calls seeking comment on Monday. In the past, he has said he was not interested in challenging Mr. Wilkinson head-to-head for the nomination.
The Republican Party should have waited for their incumbent supervisor to come to a decision before voting for a supervisor candidate, Ms. Campolo said, adding that she didn’t vote for Mr. Schneiderman. “Look, we’ve had a supervisor,” she said. “He’s been extremely successful. He’s a Republican. He hasn’t decided what he wanted to do, and I think we should have held off on the vote. That’s my opinion.”
Councilwoman Theresa Quigley, an ally of Mr. Wilkinson’s who recently announced that she won’t be running for a second term on the Town Board, echoed Ms. Campolo’s comments. “I think that Bill has stood for every principle that the Republicans espouse to hold, which is smaller government, accountability and focus on the unrepresented in the town. And inasmuch as Bill has stood for those principles, if the Republicans are choosing somebody without even considering him, I ask, what do the Republicans stand for?”
Last week’s meeting was also a second screening for candidates interested a number of other seats in town government. Screenings were held for two Town Board seats, town clerk, one town justice spot, one town assessor slot, and additional candidates for Town Trustees, where nine seats are up for grabs.
Town Councilman Dominick Stanzione and retiring Town Clerk Fred Overton screened for Town Board, Mr. Kappel said. Town Trustee Joe Bloecker screened for town assessor instead of Town Trustee. Carl Irace, an East Hampton attorney, screened for town justice. Deputy Town Clerk Carole Brennan screened to replace Mr. Overton, who is not running for clerk again. Tom Cooper, Dennis Curls and Mike Bottini screened for seats on the Town Trustees, according to Mr. Kappel.
The East Hampton Town Democratic Committee plans to screen candidates starting this Sunday, February 24. Several well-known names have already surfaced as potential supervisor candidates, including Zachary Cohen, who headed the party’s ticket in 2011; East Hampton Village Administrator Larry Cantwell, who said earlier this month he was leaning “very strongly toward becoming a candidate”; and Councilman Peter Van Scoyoc, who said he’s been asked to run.