Southampton Town Trustee Frederick Havemeyer is withdrawing from the upcoming election in November, abandoning his effort to win a sixth term.
Mr. Havemeyer informed the Suffolk County Board of Elections on Monday that he was declining the Democratic nomination for one of the five Town Trustees seats on the November ballot this year.
He declined to comment on Monday about why he suddenly withdrew from the race, other than to say, “Things have changed too much. I can’t stay on the board for another term.”
He said he would not resign immediately, though, and will serve the remainder of his term through the end of the year, because, he said, he has some projects he wants to see completed before he departs.
Southampton Town Democratic Party Chairman Gordon Herr said the party will nominate a replacement for Mr. Havemeyer on the party ticket by late Thursday, the deadline for nominees to be finalized with the Suffolk County Board of Elections. He would not identify who the candidate will be by name, but he said it would be a newcomer to local politics but someone with a long history of environmental consciousness and experience on the waters of the East End.
“I am sad that Fred thought that personal things would prevent him from running, but I do understand,” Mr. Herr said. “In spite of that, I’m very confident that we have a very strong slate. We feel that all of the people on our line, unlike some of the Republicans, have the background and qualifications to do that job.”
The GOP also lost a Town Trustee candidate this week when they were informed by Cornelius Kelly that he was going to withdraw from the race as well. Mr. Kelly said on Tuesday that his family obligations—he has four children under the age of 6—have proven to be too much to allow him to sustain a campaign in the coming months. Mr. Kelly ran for the County Legislature in 2011, losing to incumbent Jay Schneiderman, and had been discussed as a possible Town Board candidate this year before being nominated as one of the party’s four Trustees candidates.
Republican Committee Chairman William Wright said the party will not nominate any more Trustees candidates and will proceed with a three-candidate slate: incumbent Ed Warner Jr., Ray Overton and Scott Horowitz, who also ran in 2011.
Mr. Havemeyer will be the second longtime incumbent Trustee to leave the board at the end of the year. Trustee Jon Semlear, who has been on the board for 20 years, announced last winter that he would not seek reelection either.
Mr. Semlear is a Republican, as was Mr. Havemeyer until last year. Last year, he and his fellow Trustee, Eric Shultz, switched their political registration to Democrat—Mr. Shultz had won nine elections to the Trustees as a Republican— following a contentious split with the GOP during the 2011 election, when the two men accepted cross-endorsements from the Democrats and the GOP leadership dropped them from the party’s slate.
Until this week, though, Mr. Havemeyer had been positioning himself for another run. He attended screenings with the Democratic, Republican and Independence committees in the spring and attended the Democratic Party’s nominating convention in May, thanking its members for their support and ballyhooing his and his running mates’ chances in the election.
He received only the Democratic nomination, though. The Independence Party—the third most powerful after the major parties, in terms of votes it garners in recent town elections—gave its nominations to incumbent Trustees Bill Pell and Mr. Shultz, Mr. Horowitz and Mr. Pickerell, but not to incumbents Mr. Havemeyer or Mr. Warner, even though it could have given out a fifth nomination.
Mr. Havemeyer has been a Town Trustee for 11 years. He was first appointed to the board in 2002, following the death of Trustee Peter Corwith, and has won reelection to the board six times.
In recent years he had arguably been the hardest-working Trustee, and the only one to keep regular office hours at Town Hall for most of each weekday. In the last several weeks, though, he had been conspicuously absent from the office—a knot of files, folders, notes, studies, reports, maps and photos still marking his once regular workspace on the Trustees’ office conference table.
“He’s going to be sorely missed by the people of this town—he’s been a slave for that board,” Trustee Jon Semlear said. “Having spent so many years on that board myself, it’s even sad for me to see someone who loved it so much having to walk away from it.”
Mr. Havemeyer had been a strong supporter of the Trustees’ policies against allowing oceanfront property owners to erect “hard” structures amid the dunes of local beaches to protect their homes. He was a vocal critic of homeowners and their attorneys and the state Department of Environmental Conservation this past winter when several homeowners erected steel walls across the front of their properties, claiming them to be “in-kind” replacements of long-standing wooden bulkheads—a claim Mr. Havemeyer decried as blatantly dishonest.
Mr. Havemeyer also spearheaded efforts to restore the southern end of Lake Agawam and reduce the amount of polluted runoff that reached the pond, as well as this spring’s “treatment” of Mill Pond in Water Mill with a clay-like compound that is hoped will lower phosphorous levels in the pond and reduce algae blooms that have choked the pond each summer for many years.
His colleagues on the Trustees also credited Mr. Havemeyer with having been instrumental in restoring the board’s financial health amid tightening town budgets in recent years. It was Mr. Havemeyer, Mr. Semlear said, who conceived and managed the board’s selling of sand excavated from the Mecox Bay floodplain, a process that brought in more than $1 million for the board in the wake of Hurricane Irene and Superstorm Sandy.
“He created that whole sand program,” Mr. Semlear said. “He set it up and ran it like a business.”