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Apr 10, 2018 10:37 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Race To Lead The East Hampton Democratic Party Creates A Rift

Jeanne Frankl, outgoing chairwoman of the East Hampton Democratic Party.
Apr 10, 2018 3:56 PM

As longtime East Hampton Town Democratic Party Chairwoman Jeanne Frankl prepares to leave her post, her mission of leading Democrats back to dominance at Town Hall complete, some within the party have accused her and others of exerting too much control over who should take over the helm.

That turmoil has prompted what seems to be the first potentially contested election of a party chairmanship in recent memory.

Cate Rogers, a former member of the East Hampton Town Zoning Board of Appeals, and Rona Klopman, who has been a committee member for 10 years and ran unsuccessfully last year for Town Trustee, have both expressed interest in taking over as party leader.

A party committee vote on a successor—traditionally done simply by a show of hands—had been scheduled for February but was canceled, by Ms. Frankl, just days prior after her former co-chair, Ilissa Meyer, circulated an email accusing some in the party of conspiring to effectively anoint an heir apparent, Ms. Rogers, without input from others in the committee prior to the vote.

Ms. Frankl said she has shared the email with Suffolk County Democratic Party officials and is waiting to hear from them before proceeding with electing a new chairperson. She said recently that she expects the vote for her successor will be held in May.

“We had some complaints about the way we were conducting the election, so I delayed my resignation so these complaints could be taken up by the law committee of the [Suffolk County Democratic Party],” Ms. Frankl said last week, though she declined to delve further into the specifics of the complaints. “As soon as that is settled, I will reinstate my resignation.”

Ms. Frankl has led the party for seven years, presiding over its sweeps of the last two Town Board elections and the snatching of a majority on the Town Trustees. But, at 86, Ms. Frankl has made it clear for more than a year that she is ready to step down and took on Ms. Meyer, who is 46, as co-chair last year in an effort to bring younger blood into the party’s leadership.

But Ms. Meyer noted recently that her relationship with Ms. Frankl has been a rocky one, and that Ms. Frankl told her she wouldn’t support her taking over as chair once she stepped down.

Ms. Meyer said she thinks that position was based on her own feelings that the direction of the party should not be guided by just a small number of the committee members, as she feels it is now. “I don’t believe in one or two people dictating how certain things go,” she said. “They are afraid of transparency, of the committee making decisions as whole.”

Ms. Klopman has likewise said that a select few within the party seem to make the major decisions in private and then present them to the committee as a whole. Ms. Rogers’s candidacy, and presumed ascension to the chairmanship, was in line to be one of those decisions, she said.

“On February 8, a message went out that Jeanne was going to be retiring and, five minutes later, we get an email that Cate is running—it was obvious that they had worked it out,” Ms. Klopman said. “Cate was on the ZBA—she was just sworn in in January—then, all of a sudden, came her letter of resignation, which was February 1, I think, and then this.”

Ms. Klopman, who had voiced her own interest in taking over the party’s helm, and Ms. Meyer both said they see recent changes to some of the intra-party district assignments as moves they suspect were intended to give Ms. Rogers an advantage in the number of representative votes some committee members would have in an election.

Ms. Frankl was blunt in her response to the suggestion.

“As I explained in detail in our most recent committee meeting,” she said in a message this week, “it is absolutely not true.”

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Great to see that there are a few folks willing and able to take on the Leadership of the East Hampton Democratic Party, more than exists for the Southampton Dems, a poor leader whose followers continue to march to his drum beat

Pathetic !
By HamptonClassic (79), Southampton on Apr 11, 18 12:07 PM
A look at Ms. Klopman's history as a failed candidate reveals a distressing pattern that raises serious questions about her motives and credibility. Often the simple answer is the correct one: Ms. Klopman is a poor candidate who lacks public support and seeks to fault others for her repeated losses. (Items below are a matter of public record.)

1) In 2017, Ms. Klopman was a Democratic candidate for East Hampton Trustee. Her candidacy was unsuccessful.

2) In 2015, Ms. Klopman ran ...more
By LI Consumer (5), Suffolk on Apr 19, 18 9:05 PM
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