The Suffolk County Legislator since 2004, Jay Schneiderman is thinking about going local again. He was East Hampton Town Supervisor from 2000 to 2004, and he might just consider throwing his hat in the ring again in 2013. “I haven’t made any decision yet,” Schneiderman said, “but it feels like the right time to come back. The town is divided right now and there is a lot of acrimony from the Town Board. People are complaining.”
Schneiderman, should he decide to run in 2013, aims to bring his style to Town Hall. “I am a proven consensus builder. I would run as an Independent and focus on running the Town and delivering services to the people, quality of life issues. Nothing really seems to happen lately in Town Hall.”
Why would he take on such a task, in light of the quagmire of many Town departments, the perception that the town caters to special interest groups and the general unrest in East Hampton? Why bother? Schneiderman appreciates the thought and pleasantly and clearly explains his feeling. “Sure, many would shy away, but I have gotten incredible overwhelming positive feedback from the people—people who don’t like the tone at Town Hall. The vitriol has gotten to such a high level, with comments on sites such as Patch and Facebook, anonymous bloggers are slamming local government and each other.” It can get so vicious, one wonders sometimes if we all live in the same town. Schneiderman agrees that we need to get back some sense of respect and decorum. “We have lost the balance,” he goes on to say, “What will become of our Town?” Many, this summer especially, ponder exactly that question.
In Montauk it is an especially critical issue, as the hamlet has been the subject of much discourse and change. Some say change for the better, others disagree and fear Montauk has been taken over. Montauk is the place Schneiderman calls home, and he is known quite fondly by locals. What is his take on the scene as it stands? He speaks of balance again. “Look, some areas are predominantly residential. Others areas, commercial. And then there are those neighborhoods that are a combination. This is what needs to be figured out. The rules regarding all have to be considered.” Schneiderman talks about the uniqueness of a town like Montauk. I remind him many people consider it “The Hamptons.” And that is not, of course, how locals see themselves or their town. “Right, there is a disparity between rich and poor here. We have great beauty and wealth. And we have people living in poverty and in need of social help. People living in a 20- bedroom house and 20 people living in a two-bedroom house.”
Schneiderman also says, “Yes, people and community have to come first. And the rules have to be enforced. Town services provided.”
What do people want and what does Schneiderman think he can bring to Town Hall that is perhaps lacking? “The general public just wants to live. They want their community taken care of by their leaders. They want their environment protected. People want to know their opinions count. I want to rebuild those bridges and make people proud again of the town they live in. East Hampton is a great town. I feel I can bring people together. Forget party lines. We have an intelligent electorate. People vote for the best person, not the party. On a local level, it is who can better take care of the community.”
Schneiderman may be undecided about running in 2013, but he has certainly given it some serious thought. “I’d like to bring a certain level of professionalism back to Town Hall and let people know they are part of the government process. It is a good time, the perfect time for me to come back.” But he isn’t saying he is running…yet.