Longtime Southampton Town Trustee Jon Semlear said last week that he will not seek reelection to the board he has sat on since 1993 when his current term is up at the end of 2013.
Mr. Semlear is in his 10th two-year term on the board. He served as the board’s president from 2007 to 2011.
“I’m done—this will be it for me,” Mr. Semlear said last week. “I’m not getting any younger, and I’m at a point where I’d like a little less responsibility, not more.”
Mr. Semlear is a professional bayman and first made the announcement at a special Trustees meeting with many of Southampton Town’s dwindling ranks of baymen last week, held to discuss regulations on the harvesting of razor clams in town waters. He told the collection of his colleagues that he was concerned about the future of the Board of Trustees and what it could mean for the board’s historic advocacy and support of the baymen’s interests.
“I don’t know what the make-up of the board is going to be in the future,” he said. “I’m looking to lay the framework for the continuity of our fisheries. There’s been baymen on the board forever, and I don’t know what it’s going to be next year.”
Long a board dominated by the town’s baymen, who earn their livings primarily harvesting fish and shellfish from inside Southampton Town’s coastal harbors and bays, Mr. Semlear and Ed Warner Jr. are the only professional baymen currently sitting on the board. Fellow Trustee Bill Pell is a former commercial shellfish grower.
The board was also wracked by political discord in last fall’s election campaign, as two of its four Republican members accepted cross-endorsements from the Democratic Party—angering town GOP leaders, who cut the two longtime Trustees, Eric Shultz and Fred Havemeyer, from the party’s campaign literature. The move by the two Trustees was seen as a threat to the reelection campaigns of Mr. Semlear and Mr. Warner, both Republicans, and to the chances of Scott Horowitz, a Republican newcomer who sought to unseat Mr. Pell but fell short in his first run for public office.
Since easily winning reelection, both Mr. Shultz and Mr. Havemeyer have said they were told they would not be supported by the Republican Party in the next election and have switched their voter registration to Democrat.
But Mr. Semlear said the stirring of the normally politically aloof members of the Trustees in the last election cycle played no role in his decision to not run again.
“This has nothing to do with the sentiments of the last election—we’re all fine on the board,” he said. “I just feel like between running my fishing business and [being a Trustee], I’ve been running a marathon for 20 years now.”