East Hampton Town Democrats Solidify Slate For Election 2013

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Following an evening full of speeches and intense rounds of voting, there were ultimately few surprises when the East Hampton Town Democratic Committee tapped a slate of candidates to run for this year’s town elections at the party’s nominating convention on May 15.

Leading the party’s ticket as its candidate for supervisor will be longtime East Hampton Village Administrator Larry Cantwell. The committee also chose Springs School Board President Kathee Burke Gonzalez and former Town Councilman Job Potter to run for two open Town Board seats.

All three had been recommended to the broader committee by the Democratic screening committee, which broke months of silence two weeks ago to publicize its preferred choices before last week’s nominating convention.

The two fended off challenges for their spots in floor fights waged by supporters of Zachary Cohen and Kathleen Cunningham. Mr. Cohen headed the party’s ticket as its supervisor candidate in 2011 and lost to incumbent Supervisor Bill Wilkinson by only 15 votes. Ms. Cunningham is most known for her work on airport noise issues as the executive director of the Quiet Skies Coalition.

The party voted for East Hampton attorney Steven Tekulsky to run for town justice over challenger Joseph Giannini, another East Hampton attorney. Democrats also nominated Town Trustee candidates. On this year’s ticket, the Democrats will run incumbents Deb Klughers and Steven Lester, along with Bill Taylor, Loretta Sears, Cate Rogers, Afton DiSunno, Edwin Geus, Ira Barocas and Brian Byrnes. The Democrats also endorsed incumbent Eugene DePasquale for town assessor.

The Democrats also cross-endorsed Deputy Town Clerk Carole Brennan for town clerk and incumbent Republican Highway Superintendent Stephen Lynch, who were earlier nominated by both the Republicans and Independence Party.

Audience members were at the edge of their seats during the votes, especially in the race for Town Board, as the party’s Vice Chairwoman Betty Mazur went around the room one by one tallying each committee member’s two choices for Town Board. Each committee person was assigned a weighted vote based on their district’s population. In the end, the results were as follows: 3,753.5 votes for Mr. Potter; 3,027.5 votes for Ms. Gonzalez; 2,436 votes for Mr. Cohen and 466.5 votes for Ms. Cunningham.

Mr. Cohen’s bid for Town Board was a late development. Up until early last week, he wanted to challenge Mr. Cantwell for supervisor.

All three at the top of the ticket thanked supporters in energetic speeches. Mr. Potter, who previously served from 1997 to 2005, said he was “deeply humbled and grateful” to everyone who nominated him.

“I’m very excited to serve with Larry and Kathee when the three of us sweep this election,” Mr. Potter vowed.

The theme of togetherness was also echoed in Ms. Gonzalez’s comments.

“Larry Cantwell. Job Potter. And Kathee Burke Gonzalez,” she said. “Make no mistake, we have what it takes to win.”

After the convention, Ms. Cunningham said she was supportive of the slate. “It’s a great ticket,” she said. “I wish them the best. I’m completely satisfied. Truly.”

Mr. Cantwell received a standing ovation after being nominated. During his speech, he turned squarely to Mr. Cohen seated in the audience.

“Zach,” he said. “I respect your work for the community, for the Democratic Party, and your efforts running for supervisor. I invite you to become part of our team and help us lead East Hampton into the future.”

A burst of sustained applause followed.

Throughout the convention, Mr. Cohen could be seen hovering over a tablet computer device, apparently calculating the vote counts on spreadsheets. After the nominations, Mr. Cohen called the committee’s choices “a great group.” Asked what his next move was, he laughed.

“I think I’ll decide when I wake up,” he said.

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