Having missed last week’s deadline for filing petitions with the Suffolk County Board of Elections to field a candidate for East Hampton Town supervisor this fall, the town’s Republican Committee is now trying an eleventh hour attempt to get a name on the ballot.
“The conventional way to put a supervisor candidate on the ticket, that has passed, but we still have one shot at it,” said Committee Chairman Kurt Kappel on Monday.
With the July 11 deadline in the rear-view mirror, the committee this week is reaching out to registered Republican voters who live in the town to see if they will sign a petition to hold a primary in September. The deadline for this “opportunity-to-ballot” petition is Thursday, July 18, according to Committee Vice Chairman Tom Knobel, who also works at the Board of Elections.
Despite having no designated candidate to succeed lame-duck Republican Supervisor Bill Wilkinson, the Republicans want one on the ballot, Mr. Knobel said.
“This is an OTB, except we’re not betting on anything,” he joked.
Mr. Kappel acknowledged on Monday that he does not yet know if the GOP would field a candidate, but that he was hopeful and said he would have a better answer early next week, once the latest petitions have been filed. The prospect looks better than it did two weeks ago, he added.
If the petition to hold a primary is properly filed with the county with slightly more than 200 signatures, Mr. Knobel explained, then, in a primary to be held on Tuesday, September 10, registered Republicans in town could write in names for supervisor and whoever received the most votes would be the party’s nominee.
He said the primary would not be an extra expense, because the polls will be open anyway that day for a primary for the county district attorney’s race.
He also praised the process.
“You always hear people say that it could be more open. You can’t get more open than this,” Mr. Knobel said. “I’m very hopeful. People I’ve spoken to really want to have someone fill that slot. We’re now at the eleventh hour.”
He attributed his party’s lack of a designated candidate to former Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman’s backing out earlier this year. Mr. Schneiderman was the party’s pick, but later opted to seek reelection to his current post as a Suffolk County legislator instead.
Other potential candidates, Mr. Knobel said, expressed interest, but declined to run once realizing the magnitude of the job.
Outgoing Republican Town Councilwoman Theresa Quigley on Monday said that if the Republicans were going to have a candidate, they would have already had one and that she was unfamiliar with the GOP’s latest plan to petition for a primary.
“I think it’s a real tragedy that there’s no candidate,” she said. “A democracy in my mind means people would have a choice about what philosophy they want to follow. By the Republicans not putting forth a candidate, it seems they are not giving people a choice.”
Meanwhile, Larry Cantwell, the Democratic town supervisor candidate who is running on that party line as well as that of the Independence and Working Families parties, said he, too, was unfamiliar with the GOP’s procedure, but nevertheless expressed confidence in his own campaign.
“I have been campaigning vigorously now for two months,” he said. “Whether there’s a candidate or not, I intend to work hard, meeting voters and listening to their concerns so I’m prepared to take office in January.”