Larry Cantwell Retires From Village Post; Becky Molinaro Steps In


East Hampton Town supervisor hopeful Larry Cantwell said his goodbyes to the East Hampton Village Board on Wednesday, July 31, when the board officially accepted his retirement, effective August 1.

Mr. Cantwell, who served as village administrator for 32 years, will focus his energies on his supervisor campaign as Becky Molinaro steps in to fill his position as village administrator. Ms. Molinaro was sworn in on Monday morning at Village Hall.

At the end of the meeting on Wednesday, several community and board members offered their thanks and well wishes to the outgoing village administrator.

Former East Hampton Fire Chief and East Hampton Town Justice candidate Steve Tekulsky, the village’s informal “commissioner of swan activity,” said he will miss updating Mr. Cantwell on the swans’ well-being. Mr. Tekulsky joked that he forwards all information and photos of the swans at Town Pond to Mr. Cantwell, who then passes them on to the mayor, board members and interested village residents and “takes complete credit for them.”

“I’m glad to be a part of the ‘We love Larry farewell tour,’” Mr. Tekulsky said. “It’s like Mariano Rivera, stopping at every stadium in the league—‘You’re the best, You’re the greatest.’”

Kathy Cunningham, the East Hampton Village Preservation Society executive director, said Mr. Cantwell has served well as village administrator. “Larry has been so easy to deal with,” she said. “He’s been such a calm, secure presence for village residents and organizations like ours that work on quality-of-life issues. He told us when we had great ideas and when they were really stinkers.”

Board member Barbara Borsack said he has always been fair and helpful. “When I was first elected to office in 2000, he was kind and generous and very patient with me,” she said. “His door was always open, and I consider him a very dear friend. I know he’s not going far, so I’m not going to get too sad about it.”

Mayor Paul F. Rickenbach Jr., while at first joking with Mr. Cantwell about leaving the position, said he has been grateful for the job he has done.

“Today is a day of reality, in that Larry is hanging up his title as village administrator,” the mayor said. “Myself and the board of trustees are personally saddened by his departure. Remembering his tenure, I recall a consummate public official whose professional acumen, sage advice and deep caring to do the right thing for the public always came through, tempered with good common sense.

“Indeed, it is a rare combination of traits that an individual can embody all of these abilities,” Mr. Rickenbach continued. “I wish Larry nothing but the best and good wishes as the future unfolds. Knowing of his potential career path, I firmly believe that the stars are in alignment to achieving that goal.”

Mr. Cantwell finished up the meeting with a few remarks.

“It’s kinda all hitting me today—it’s getting somewhat emotional,” he said, standing at the podium addressing the board. “In many ways the Village of East Hampton is something of a model for a small community government. We are really blessed with caring, dedicated employees who go above and beyond. It’s amazing to me that in a crisis the employees and volunteers work together to respond and coordinate in effort to help residents of the community.

“And one of the most unique things about the Village of East Hampton it the level of trust that exists between the government and taxpayers. It’s a bond that I can’t explain except that I know it exists.

“After making this transition and working with Becky for the past three months, I think the Village Board will be just as proud of her as much as you’ve shown you’ve been for me,” Mr. Cantwell said.

Ms. Molinaro started her job under his the wing on May 1. Previously, she worked as an executive assistant to New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. for 10 years, before going to work for the Village of Westhampton Beach three years ago. She has a master’s degree in public policy from Stony Brook University.

A resolution approved last week authorizes a payment of nearly $100,000 to Mr. Cantwell for accrued time. Ms. Molinaro will be paid an annual salary of $95,000, effective last Thursday.

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