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Jun 14, 2011 5:20 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Dean Speir Hopes Second Time Is Charm In Westhampton Beach Village Election

Jun 15, 2011 1:17 PM

While he has been following local politics for more than four decades, longtime Westhampton Beach resident Dean Speir does not label himself a politician.

“I’ve never been very good at that,” explained Mr. Speir, 70, who will be making his second bid for Westhampton Beach Village Trustee on Friday, June 17. He came up short in his first attempt in 2007, losing by a narrow margin to Trustee Joan Levan, who is not seeking reelection.

Instead, Mr. Speir, who writes and publishes the local website “On The Beach Blog,” prides himself with being in love with the village that he has called home for nearly all of his life, noting that his family roots date back six generations.

The owner of local graphic design company, WHB Creative Graphics, Mr. Speir said he began attending Village Board meetings on a regular basis in 1968. The reason? “If you’re going to live and work and pay taxes here, you owe it to yourself to find out what is going on,” he said.

Mr. Speir is no stranger to public service, having served on the Westhampton Beach Zoning Board of Appeals from September 1985 until May 1996, and was chairman of the board during the final six years of his tenure. He also served as the village’s webmaster from 1999 to 2007, noting that he was relieved of that duty after losing his election bid.

Mr. Speir said he decided to make another run for the Village Board after Mayor Conrad Teller and other sitting trustees asked him to consider doing so. After discussing the idea with his wife, Jeanne, Mr. Speir said he decided to throw his hat into the ring one more time.

In particular, Mr. Speir said he is concerned with the amount of money that the village has spent over the last several years on police dispatchers. Noting that Southampton Town handles the majority of emergency calls in Westhampton Beach, he said the village is spending too much money to fund “redundant” positions.

To remedy that situation, Mr. Speir is advocating creating a police administrative assistant position, which he said would provide a presence at the front desk at police headquarters. He said it would be a good post for Jeff Frano, one of the two dispatchers.

Mr. Speir has been a vocal critic of the former majority on the Village Board—which includes current opponent Hank Tucker and Ms. Levan—and their decision to delay the holding of disciplinary hearings for two Westhampton Beach Police officers. The officers have been suspended for their involvement in an incident in which the handgun of a fellow officer went missing from police headquarters.

Mr. Speir pointed out the hearings were held only after Trustee Leola “Sue” Farrell won election to the board last June, giving Mr. Teller the third vote he needed to schedule them. Mr. Speir added that they have dragged on for too long. In a recent letter to the editor, Mr. Teller—who has endorsed Mr. Speir’s candidacy—said the hearings have cost the village more than $200,000 to date.

Asked about future plans for his blog—a forum that can, at times, address controversial subjects and include personal attacks on both private residents and public officials—Mr. Speir said he would continue to publish it if he wins election. He added, however, that he would refrain from posting his thoughts on issues discussed in executive session. “Unless it is a personnel matter, my obligation is to the people,” he added.

Though he has strong opinions on village issues, and has often clashed with both sitting and former Westhampton beach officials, Mr. Speir said he foresees no problems with working alongside some of those he has bumped heads with in the past.

“If I am successful, my obligation will be to the citizens of the village, and I will always make my case to them,” he said.

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By jgrayhurst (4), WESTHAMPTON on Jun 10, 14 11:13 PM
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