Bringing an end to a 33-year tenure on the East Hampton Village Board of Trustees, Edwin Sherrill Jr. announced Friday morning that he will not run for reelection in June.
Planning Board Chairman Rick Lawler, a former member of the East Hampton and Suffolk County police departments, will be seeking to fill Mr. Sherrill’s seat with the Hook Mill Party. He will be joined on the party ticket by two incumbents—Village Mayor Paul F. Rickenbach Jr., who will be seeking his fifth four-year term as mayor, and deputy mayor Barbara Borsack, a former member of the Village Zoning Board of Appeals and trustee since 2000.
Although three of the five seats on the Village Board are open this year, the three Hook Mill candidates might not face many challenges. According to June Lester, secretary for the Village Board, the last village election in which any trustee candidate faced opposition was in 2000, when former Village Building Inspector Donald Bennett lost to Mr. Rickenbach in the race for mayor.
Still, Mr. Rickenbach didn’t discount the possibility of some competition.
“If somebody wanted to get a party together and run in total opposition … this would be the year to do it,” the 71-year-old Mr. Rickenbach said in a phone interview on Monday. “You could end up, in theory, with a majority of the Village Board.”
Mr. Sherrill, an 85-year-old retired professor of marine sciences at Suffolk County Community College and former fisherman, is the longest-serving active member of the Village Board, having first been elected in 1975. He made his announcement at Friday’s meeting of the Village Board and said that his years of service on the board were “very rewarding.” He described his colleagues as “team players.”
“I’d like to quote Ronald Reagan,” Mr. Sherrill said. “There are a lot of things to get done in government if you don’t care who gets credit for it.”
“I see exciting things in the future, and I’ll miss being part of it,” he noted and pointed some of his proudest accomplishments on the board, including the purchase of the Sea Spray property on Ocean Avenue, the preservation of various parks and the creation of the village’s historic districts.
“I think you are going to be an extremely hard act to follow,” Mr. Rickenbach told his colleague at the meeting. “And I would personally like to thank you for the of knowledge with respect to historically, years past, and how it pertains to the present.”
“You’ve been a great guy to work with,” the mayor added.
Ms. Borsack, the newest member of the board, also praised Mr. Sherrill’s breadth of historical knowledge.
“We’re going to miss that, that history is important,” she said, joking that she hoped he wasn’t going anywhere “so we can still come and ask you questions.”
Announcing his own candidacy, as well that of Ms. Borsack and Mr. Lawler in a press release on Monday, Mr. Rickenbach pointed to some of his achievements as mayor, including maintaining a balanced budget and bringing average yearly tax increase of 4.5 percent over the past six years, upgrading the town’s emergency services, and protecting the village’s historic properties and open spaces.
Looking to the candidacy of Mr. Lawler, Mr. Rickenbach said that the lifelong East Hampton resident would make a “splendid” trustee.
“I think that Rick will bring a new energy and ability to the board,” Mr. Rickenbach said. “I think that he cares very much about the village and what’s happening.”
In a phone interview on Monday, Mr. Lawler, 60, said that he was anxious to get an opportunity to participate on the Village Board and would be “actively involved in any issues as they arrive” if he were elected trustee.
“I can tell you that I will be a hands-on type of person,” on issues relating to the village, he said.
Ms. Borsack is away this week and could not be reached for comment.
In other business Friday, the Village Board unanimously passed a resolution making it illegal for business owners to use attics or basement for anything other than storage or mechanical space—an attempt to control future commercial development.
Village Building Inspector Thomas Lawrence said Monday that the new law was passed in response to a change in the New York State building codes, which were amended in 2003 to make the use of basements and attics more viable as retail space. Although few stores in the village have ever sold goods in attics or basements, Mr. Lawrence said, a few developers have brought proposals forward in recent months seeking to do so.
As part of the same amendment, the Village Board proposed to change the limit on the amount of space that business owners in the village can use from a 10,000-square-foot footprint to 10,000-square-feet in total gross floor area.
No members of the board or audience, which only included members of the media and village officials, offered any comment on the new law at Friday’s meeting.