East Hampton Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell announced on Friday morning that he will not seek reelection to a third term in office next fall, ending what will have been 42 years in local government by the time he leaves office in December.
Mr. Cantwell said the decision was a personal one.
"I spent time over the holidays thinking about this decision, weighing different options, part of which was the body of work that I'm very proud we have accomplished or begun over the last three years, and one of the things that weighed heavily on my mind was to continue that work and finish some of the things we've started," Mr. Cantwell said to a small group of reporters he made the announcement to on Friday morning. "In the end, I've reached that point in my life where...well, let me put it this way: I've always believed that as a public official you put the public's interests first. And my personal and private interests have always taken a backseat to that. I want my family's interest to get up in the drivers seat."
Mr. Cantwell said that he plans to work hard for the next 11-plus months to move forward a number of initiatives facing the town and the South Fork. He said top on his priority list will be the creation of a septic replacement program using Community Preservation Fund money and town legislation to spur the removal of cesspools and other obsolete household septic systems and to press the Army Corps of Engineers to commit to a broad reconstruction of the ocean beaches in Montauk.
With a little over 11 months to go in his government career, the former bay constable, town councilman, East Hampton Village adminstrator and town supervisor said he is most proud of the tone of government his adminstration and the board members who have served with him have set.
"I feel good about establishing a constructive dialogue among the Town Board members and with the public, which is something that was especially needed after the prior administration," he said of the infamously rancorous board that preceded his election and the securing of a Democratic Party super-majority in 2014. "I think the Town Board is focused on the problems as opposed to political gamesmanship and I think the public respects that and as a result the public is more engaged in helping us make some of these decisions. I think you can argue with decisions we've made but I think you'd be hard pressed to argue that we haven't set a tone of cooperation."
Mr. Cantwell won election to his first government post, as Bay Constable, in 1975 when he was just 25 years old. A year later he was elected to the Town Council, part of the first-ever Democratic majority on the Town Board. He was reelected in 1980, though he stepped down midway through the term to take a job as East Hampton Village Administrator, a post he held for 33 years.
Mr. Cantwell said he would expect one of the three other incumbent Democrats on the Town Board—Peter Van Scoyoc, Sylvia Overby and Kathee Burke-Gonzalez—to step in and run for supervisor. Ms. Burke-Gonzalez said she plans to seek reelection to her Town Council seat. Mr. Van Scoyoc, who is midway through his second four-year term on the board, said on Friday that he is considering seeking the supervisor's seat.
East Hampton Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell will announce this Friday whether he will run for reelection to a third term in the supervisor’s office.
Mr. Cantwell said that he will inform local news media of his decision in a private conference on Friday morning.
After more than 30 years in local government—he served on the Town Board in the 1980s and worked as the East Hampton Village administrator for 30 years before retiring from that position in 2013—there have been rumblings in political circles that Mr. Cantwell, a Democrat, would not seek another term.
He won reelection to his second two-year term as supervisor in 2015 with more than 68 percent of the vote, over Republican candidate Tom Knobel, as part of a Democratic Party sweep of the three Town Board seats this year.
Earlier this month Councilman Fred Overton, formerly the lone member of the GOP on the board, but now registered with the Independence Party, said he would not seek reelection to a second four-year term.
Councilwoman Kathee Burke-Gonzalez’s seat on the board will also be on the ballot this fall. She is expected to seek reelection.