The East Hampton Independence Party has chosen East Hampton Village Administrator Larry Cantwell to head its slate this year. Mr. Cantwell was chosen over Zachary Cohen, who ran on the Democratic line in 2011. Both candidates are vying to get the Democrats’ support in a bid for the Town Board’s top spot in November.
The Independence Party also announced this week that it has nominated incumbent East Hampton Town Councilman Dominick Stanzione and Town Clerk Fred Overton for its Town Board nominees, Deputy Town Clerk Carole Brennan for town clerk, Town Trustee Joe Bloecker for town assessor, East Hampton attorney Carl Irace for town justice, and incumbent Highway Superintendent Stephen Lynch for his current post.
Town Board candidates who did not get the Independence Party nomination included Kathleen Cunningham, Kathee Burke Gonzalez, Job Potter and Peter Wadsworth.
The party also nominated three new candidates for East Hampton Town Trustee: Brian Pardini, Brian Byrnes and Dennis Curles, according to a press release issued by party leaders on Monday night. In addition, all incumbent East Hampton Town Trustees were endorsed for their current spots except for Democrat Deb Klughers. Ms. Klughers didn’t return calls seeking comment on Monday.
Mr. Cohen said Independence Party Chairwoman Elaine Jones told him and the incumbent Town Trustees, including Ms. Klughers, that they were all guaranteed the Independence Party endorsement. The Trustees had a meeting the night of the endorsement, so none of them came to the screening.
“She told me twice, point blank, we are endorsing the incumbent Trustee candidates,” Mr. Cohen said. “Point blank. And I’m very upset at what she did to Deb Klughers. It’s not fair.”
Mr. Cohen added that the situation raises two issues: How does Ms. Jones have the ability to tell someone the party’s endorsing a candidate in advance of a meeting? And if there is some agreement prearranged with the committee, “then she can’t go back on that if she told someone not to show up,” he said.
Ms. Jones countered that while she supported and pursued the idea of endorsing all the incumbents—a plan she floated to Republicans and Democrats but never heard back, she said— she never told the Trustees that it was a given. She said she was “shocked” when her party rejected her idea at the vote last week.
“I thought my committee would support me, I really did,” Ms. Jones said. “I thought my committee would support me, and they didn’t. It was all my idea and I accept responsibility 100 percent. But it shows I have no power because my committee disagreed with me.”
The Independence Party nominations followed a night of screenings at Ashawagh Hall in Springs last week, at which a number of candidates of varying political stripes vying for all East Hampton Town elected offices gathered to be publicly interviewed by a panel of seven party officials.
The party unanimously endorsed Mr. Cantwell for supervisor, said Ms. Jones. She touted his more than 30 years in public service and lifelong residency in the town.
“Well, I’m very proud to accept the nomination of the Independence Party,” said Mr. Cantwell over the phone on Tuesday. “I think I share a goal with them, which is to lead East Hampton with an even hand and an open heart.”
So far, the Independence Party is the only political party that has successfully nominated a candidate for supervisor in this year’s election. The East Hampton Town Republican Committee hasn’t had the best of luck in choosing a supervisor candidate this year. Republicans nominated Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman earlier this year, but he rejected the nod. The party tried wooing Mr. Overton into running for supervisor, who considered it but then later decided against it. The Republicans then tried to attract Planning Board Vice Chairwoman Nancy Keeshan to run, who also thought about it, but also eventually decided against a run, citing personal reasons.
Republican Committee Chairman Kurt Kappel said on Monday that his party will still have a supervisor candidate, and that there was more than one person interested in screening at the party’s meeting on May 8.
The battle for supervisor within the East Hampton Democratic Committee is hardly over, according to Mr. Cohen. He said it’ll likely come down to a contested floor vote at the party’s May 15 convention.
“I’m actually pretty optimistic,” Mr. Cohen said.
Mr. Cohen said he’s broken the scenario down to three spreadsheets with outcomes, labeled “optimistic,” “likely” and “pessimistic.” In the first two scenarios, he wins the nomination. In the final scenario, he breaks even.
“I am very good with numbers, and I’m pretty good at gauging people,” Mr. Cohen said. “I think I know pretty definitely about where 60 percent or more of the votes are already determined, because both of us are calling around.”
Mr. Cantwell said he would not rely on spreadsheets.
“I believe that my lifetime of experience in East Hampton and my record of 37 years of public service will prevail,” he said.