Cohen Backs Out Of East Hampton Town Supervisor Race


The race for East Hampton Town supervisor on the Democratic ticket has narrowed this week from two candidates to one.

Zachary Cohen, who had been looking to challenge Larry Cantwell, the party’s screening committee’s pick, announced in an email to committee members this week that he won’t be seeking the nomination for supervisor at the party’s nomination convention tonight, Wednesday evening.

Instead, it appears Mr. Cohen has his sights set on a Town Board candidacy. Democrats confirmed this week that Mr. Cohen informed the committee by email of his desire to seek a nod for Town Board, but Mr. Cohen has declined to comment.

He would not be the only one looking for a nod. Kathleen Cunningham, who screened, but was not selected by the committee, expects to have her name nominated at tonight’s meeting as well. “It’s flattering,” Ms. Cunningham said on Monday.

Twists and turns seem to be the norm in this year’s election season, as the party now has a crowded lineup of candidates for only two open Town Board seats. Former Councilman Job Potter and current Springs School Board President Kathee Burke Gonzalez have earned the recommendation of the party’s screening committee.

“We’ve never had so many people wanting to be out there, and I guess it’s the year of the Democrat,” said Rona Klopman, a vice chairwoman of the party who confirmed Mr. Cohen announced his intent to withdraw from consideration for town supervisor and to be considered for Town Board.

Mr. Cohen, however, declined to comment. He disclosed only a portion of the email he sent to committee members: “I am writing to notify you that I have removed my name from consideration for the supervisor nomination. I ask all of you to join with me in supporting Larry Cantwell as our nominee for the Democratic Party.”

“It was not the full email, but the rest of the email is private at the moment,” Mr. Cohen said. “I cannot comment on anything else now.”

Jeanne Frankl, the party’s chairwoman, said as far as she understood it, Mr. Cohen and Ms. Cunningham were looking to get nominated on the floor tonight. Chris Kelley, a member of the screening committee, said he’s heard that as well.

“It’s wonderful to have a lot of people who are qualified available for these jobs,” Ms. Frankl said. “It’s a demonstration that we have a good political party, an important campaign and those are the enticements for people to run: a promise of a good government. I mean those are things that make people want to run.”

Mr. Cohen led the Democratic ticket in 2011 as a political newcomer and lost narrowly to Supervisor Bill Wilkinson by 15 votes.

On Tuesday, Mr. Cantwell said he received the news directly from Mr. Cohen.

“Zach called me several days ago to tell me he was not going to seek the nomination for supervisor, that he was supporting me, and that he intended to seek the nomination for Town Board,” Mr. Cantwell said.

Asked how he felt about the turn of events, Mr. Cantwell said, “pretty good.”

The committee is meeting tonight at 7 p.m. at the St. Michael’s Lutheran Church in Amagansett. The screening committee members will present their recommendations. Nominations can also be offered from the floor, as part of the process. The meeting is open to the public.

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