East Hampton Town Supervisor Bill McGintee announced this week that he is considering a run for the County Legislature in 2009.
Mr. McGintee said he wants to unseat Legislator Jay Schneiderman, a man he said has been “weak” and “narrow-minded” during his four years in the legislature.
But a showdown is not assured: Mr. Schneiderman, who expects to earn a school administrator certification this spring, said this week that he might give up his county seat next year.
Mr. Schneiderman’s district covers all of East Hampton and Southampton towns and part of eastern Brookhaven Town.
Mr. McGintee said Tuesday that he will soon form an exploratory committee to investigate the possibility of a run at the county level. He said Mr. Schneiderman is divisive in his legislative style and criticized the lawsuit Mr. Schneiderman recently filed against the county over police funding.
“Voters do not vote us into office to sue each other,” Mr. McGintee said. “Mr. Schneiderman has backed everyone into a corner, and it is going to cost the East End millions of dollars.”
Mr. McGintee said he would base his final decision on the response from Democratic leaders in Southampton, Brookhaven and the county. He said he does not know if another Democrat has already expressed interest in challenging Mr. Schneiderman for the seat.
“I’m not ruling out another run for supervisor,” he said. “But I have almost completed everything I set out to do: the Town Hall complex, the airport master plan, the budget will be back on track by the end of this year.”
Mr. McGintee and Mr. Schneiderman have often traded barbs over the town’s fiscal management—most recently in a press conference held by Mr. Schneiderman last week in front of Town Hall—alternately blaming each other for the town’s financial woes. Mr. McGintee’s announcement only added fuel to that fire.
Mr. Schneiderman called Mr. McGintee’s announcement a ploy to direct attention away from the fiscal crisis in the town.
“He ought to be running for cover rather than trying to run against me,” Mr. Schneiderman said. “He’s got an absolute mess in East Hampton with his mismanagement. Does he want to bring that to the county now? He should be exploring ways to pull East Hampton out of the hole he dug them into.”
Mr. Schneiderman was East Hampton’s supervisor from 2000 to 2004, when he was elected to the legislature. He was reelected to the county seat with nearly 70 percent of the vote in November in an effectively uncontested race. Neil Tiger was the Democratic candidate, but he didn’t actively campaign for the job.
On Tuesday afternoon, Mr. Schneiderman said it was premature for him—or Mr. McGintee—to be declaring candidacy for the 2009 race. He did confirm that he has nearly completed a certification course in school administration that would qualify him to be a principal or superintendent of a school district. He said a job in the Montauk School District, if one became available, would be hard to turn down.
“I’m trying to stay educated in the field and increase my credentials if I do ever decide to go back,” Mr. Schneiderman, who taught mathematics before he entered politics, said. “I am certainly considering running again, but that is a long way off.”