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Apr 2, 2013 12:29 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Election 2013: Gonzalez, Cunningham and Potter Screen With Democrats For East Hampton Town Board

Apr 2, 2013 3:30 PM

Springs School Board President Kathee Burke Gonzalez, former East Hampton Town Councilman Job Potter and Quiet Skies Coalition Chairwoman Kathleen Cunningham confirmed this week that they recently screened with local Democrats to run for seats on the Town Board this year.

The three, who have surfaced in recent election polls as possible contenders for Town Board, join East Hampton Village Administrator Larry Cantwell and former Democratic supervisor candidate Zachary Cohen, who have screened to run for town supervisor with the Democrats.

This year’s “pretty deep field” of candidates on the Democratic side isn’t without reason, remarked Ms. Cunningham on Monday.

“I think the dysfunction about our current Town Board has compelled a lot of people to say, ‘Oh, for God’s sake, enough of it, let me try,’” said Ms. Cunningham, who isn’t registered with any party. “I think there are a lot of people who feel compelled to throw their hats in the ring and say, ‘Surely we can do better than this.’”

Democratic Committee officials have been hush-hush about their screening process—quite the opposite of the Republicans, who have publicized not only those who screened but the party’s nominations of individuals unusually early in the game. Most recently, Republicans were dealt a blow when Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman declined a nomination to run for supervisor.

Town Republican Committee Chairman Kurt Kappel vowed this week that the party will field a supervisor candidate—one that could possibly emerge from its current slate of Town Board candidates. The party has chosen Councilman Dominick Stanzione and Town Clerk Fred Overton to run for Town Board. Mr. Overton said he has been considering a run for supervisor, although he hasn’t yet come to a decision. Mr. Stanzione also has screened with the Democrats for nomination to the Town Board.

“All I will have to tell you, as the chair of the Republican Party, is we will have a supervisor candidate,” Mr. Kappel said. He said the party may hold screenings at a meeting on April 10.

There may be a battle for the nomination for supervisor brewing among Democrats. While Mr. Cantwell hasn’t announced whether he would accept the nomination if offered, Mr. Cohen said his campaign for supervisor won’t stop even if Democrats choose Mr. Cantwell over him. That could include waging a primary election for the seat.

“My goal is to run for supervisor,” he said. “And if they don’t give me the nomination, that does not mean I’m going to stop trying to run for supervisor.”

Ms. Gonzalez, Mr. Potter and Ms. Cunningham said in comments this week they were motivated to screen for Town Board by a desire to make a difference on a townwide level.

Ms. Gonzalez’s nine-year tenure on the Springs School Board will come to an end in June. “For the last nine years, the hard-working folks in Springs have given me a tremendous opportunity to serve my community,” Ms. Gonzalez said in an email. “And it would be an honor should I be given the opportunity to run for the Town Board and have the potential to serve the greater East Hampton community.”

Mr. Potter served on the Town Board for two four-year terms ending in 2005. He’s currently “semi-retired,” he said. He’s a part-time musician and holds a real estate license with Sotheby’s in East Hampton.

“I screened with the committee as a kind of mutual consideration by myself and the committee as my possibly running for the Town Council,” Mr. Potter said on Monday. “I would just say that I am very committed and I care deeply about the town, and I believe I can still make a contribution.”

While Ms. Cunningham is most known at Town Board meetings for her work advocating noise abatement at the East Hampton Airport through the Quiet Skies Coalition, she said her “biggest concern right now is coastal erosion.” The issue took on a new level of significance and urgency after her family’s Lindenhurst homes were flooded by Hurricane Sandy.

“I really think this is a watershed year for our town,” she said. “This next Town Board is going to bear a great responsibility for shaping the community for the next 20 years.”

The East Hampton Town Democratic Committee plans to nominate individuals to various town posts sometime next month. Other than that, the committee has no comment on current contenders, said Chairwoman Jeanne Frankl.

“We’re still screening and we are working our way through the process,” Ms. Frankl said.

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The Democrats are really considering Cohen over Cantwell? Seriously???????
By hohum123 (91), springs on Apr 2, 13 6:18 PM
The dysfunction of the current Board can be heard as far away as Noyac with the noise from the EH Airport helicopters on any summer weekend evening. Too bad we Southampton voters have no say.
By nellie (451), sag harbor on Apr 2, 13 8:21 PM
No matter what your political views may be, the behavior of our Town Board members, especially toward each other, is disgraceful.
By gansetteer (125), East Hampton on Apr 2, 13 9:20 PM
And in Southampton? What do we here from the democratic party - chirp, chirp, chirp. They'll stick with the republican, independence supervisor - god only knows why.
By witch hazel (224), tatooine on Apr 3, 13 10:55 AM