Published in The East Hampton Star, October 23, 2017
So, after months of campaigning, we are at the eve of the election. The important question is: What have we learned?
Let’s start with the GOP Town Board candidates. For Supervisor, Manny Vilar is the candidate. Other than the mantra of thirty years in law enforcement, he has offered little to justify electing him to the lead governance position in our Town. Despite professing to have “plans” to deal with every issue he has been asked about, he offers nothing to commend his candidacy.
Mr. Giardina is an equally suspicious enigma. He repeatedly touts his thirty or more years at the EPA, but it is unclear if he learned anything there. He has offered a proposal to preserve Montauk’s beaches – build a seawall – that would achieve the exact opposite result: those beaches would be forever lost. A real boon to tourism, right? His only other proposal of note – an alternative to the Town Board’s septic system upgrade — is not only as wrong-headed, but it belies his self-proclaimed experience in the regulatory process. His plan would impose significant costs on homeowners, but he deceptively promises that monetary relief (in the form of homeowner loans) would come from state funds, not CPF monies voters have dedicated to improving water quality. The problem is that one statewide source (the $2.5 billion state fund) would offer miniscule benefits to East Hampton; his other source (the State revolving fund) is a non-starter – under it, private remediation efforts are ineligible for funding. If I can figure this out, it’s hard to believe a 30-year veteran of the EPA is so clueless.
Mr. Larsen strikes me as nothing more than an empty suit. His candidacy hits the skids with the lawsuit involving an alleged conflict of interest involving his security company. Substantively, he offers nothing to justify support.
Now, the Democratic slate. Peter Van Scoyoc rightfully received the endorsement from the East Hampton Star. Mr. Van Scoyoc can trace his ties to East Hampton back to the 1600’s. While not in and of itself a qualifier, he has studiously fought for every interest we in the Town hold dear. Peter has supported efforts to rein in the abuses our beaches and Montauk saw during the Wilkinson years. He is an outspoken protector of our natural environment, including the Town’s revolutionary septic upgrade plan, which provides grants to eligible homeowners to cover the bulk of the cost. The Town budget is in the best shape it has been in years. He supports reasonable restrictions on East Hampton airport traffic. He deserves your vote.
Kathee Burke-Gonzalez is the social conscience of our Town Government. As a mother, she has worked to raise awareness on a variety of social issues affecting our community, and especially our kids. She has increased mental health services and spearheaded efforts to educate our students on sexual abuse as they prepare to leave for college. She has worked to aid the less fortunate by, for example, helping to provide a grant to Meals on Wheels to help feed the poor and elderly. And, importantly, she has led the fight for reasonable airport restrictions that would enhance the quality of life here. She deserves your vote.
Jeff Bragman is the newcomer on the Democratic slate. As a lawyer myself, I have followed Mr. Bragman’s career on and off as his cases and issues have hit the press. He has fought for environmental protections his entire career, most recently derailing the ill-conceived shopping center that threatened Kellis Pond. To his credit, he has pursued causes, often controversial, but always on behalf of community interests, something that make us in the legal profession proud. Unlike Mr. Giardina – a pretender, Mr. Bragman has earned the mantle of an environmental leader in our community. I look forward to having his perspective and environmental leadership on the Town Board.
The choice for Town Board, in my view, is between neophytes offering nothing but ill-founded ideas and proven leaders who have worked to better the future of our Town, and their running mate who has fought, and will continue to fight, for interests that would enhance our Town.
Peter Van Scoyoc, Kathee Burke-Gonzalez and Jeff Bragman have earned your trust and deserve your vote.