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Oct 4, 2011 2:31 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Endorsements Solidify In East Hampton Races

Oct 4, 2011 3:34 PM

Elected officials at higher levels of government are weighing in on the East Hampton Town Board race, splitting their support between Republican and Democratic candidates.

The most recent endorsements came last Friday, when State Senator Kenneth P. LaValle and State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. both endorsed Supervisor Bill Wilkinson, a Republican, during a fundraiser at the Montauk Lake Club.

“He told people what he was going to do, and he did it, and I think he’s taken major steps forward with the budget and the town’s finances,” Mr. Thiele, an Independence Party member who switched from the Republican Party, said on Monday. “He’s produced balanced budgets, which East Hampton hadn’t seen a lot of.”

Mr. Thiele endorsed Mr. Wilkinson even though the assemblyman faced a challenge from a Republican in last year’s election, and was cross-endorsed by the Democratic Party.

“It wasn’t the easiest endorsement I ever made,” Mr. Thiele said about putting his support behind Mr. Wilkinson. “I’m not blind to the fact that the East Hampton Town Republican Committee gave $900 to my opponent in the last election. But I try to put politics behind me when I make endorsements.”

Mr. Thiele also said he endorsed Bill Mott, a fellow Independence Party member, for a Town Board seat. Altogether, six candidates are running for two seats on the Town Board and two candidates are running for supervisor.

Mr. LaValle endorsed only Mr. Wilkinson, saying that the supervisor “put a town that was in a fiscal crisis on the right track.”

U.S. Representative Tim Bishop, a Democrat from Southampton, has been actively supporting Mr. Wilkinson’s challenger, Zachary Cohen, and his running mates, Sylvia Overby and Peter Van Scoyoc. The congressman sent an endorsement letter to the East Hampton Town Democratic Committee on September 1, which the party has been mailing to supporters.

Mr. Bishop criticized Mr. Wilkinson for involving Republican congressional candidate Randy Altschuler in local politics. Mr. Altschuler, a St. James businessman, challenged Mr. Bishop last year—almost defeating the entrenched incumbent—and is already mounting a second bid for his seat in 2012.

“Despite winning with the support of many Democrats, East Hampton’s Republican town supervisor has injected partisan politics into government, taking the unprecedented step of inviting my opponent to an official government meeting in the midst of the 2010 campaign,” Mr. Bishop wrote. “He has also chosen to nationalize the current campaign by insisting on having my 2010 opponent serve as one of his campaign chairs.”

Mr. Bishop praised Mr. Cohen, an unaffiliated voter who is endorsed by the Democratic and Working Families parties. “Zach has the financial expertise to protect taxpayers,” Mr. Bishop wrote. “He has the compassion to make sure we are not penny-wise and pound-foolish by eliminating leaf pickup and cutting back zoning enforcement.”

Mr. Bishop, who won last year’s election with a fraction of 1 percent of the vote, also stressed that every vote counts. His letter came with two absentee ballots that part-time residents can use to vote if they are away.

Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman, a former Republican East Hampton Town supervisor who switched to the Independence Party, said he has not yet endorsed any candidates in the East Hampton races, and may not at all.

“I have not made any announcements in East Hampton,” Mr. Schneiderman said. “I don’t always endorse candidates. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t.

Even though Mr. Schneiderman has supported Mr. Wilkinson in the past, this race is complicated for him because it caused a split in his party. The local branch of the Independence Party endorsed Mr. Cohen, until the county chairman overruled the decision and endorsed Mr. Wilkinson. The local branch of the party is continuing to support Mr. Cohen. “It’s an interesting race on a lot of levels,” Mr. Schneiderman said.

Mr. Wilkinson is also cross-endorsed by the Conservative Party.

On Tuesday, East Hampton Town Democratic Committee Chairwoman Jeanne Frankl announced that Gay and Lesbian Democrats of Suffolk County had endorsed her party’s Town Board slate, Superintendent of Highways Scott King, and seven of the party’s eight Trustee candidates.

Earlier in the campaign, the union that represents East Hampton Town employees, the Civil Service Employees Association, endorsed Mr. Cohen, Ms. Overby and Mr. Van Scoyoc, along with Stephen Lynch Sr., the Republican and Independence candidate for superintendent of highways.

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Democratic party bosses at the county may have endorsed Schneiderman, but the rank and file East Hampton dems remember him from the old days.....no surprise he won't endorse our candidates even though he's running on our line
By TFowler (1), Southampton on Oct 5, 11 11:37 AM
Is there any indication, anywhere, that this administration has been no "cutting back on zoning enforcement"? If anything, I see more enforcement in Springs than there has been in 10 years ... thanks to this Board... and I mean all of the Board members. More lies from Tim Bishop and those who would have us sinking into a financial pit every time we stick our feet out the door - just listen to Deb Foster if you want fear mongering and statements based on . . . . nothing. That letter solidifies ...more
By Board Watcher (534), East Hampton on Oct 6, 11 10:09 AM