In Southampton Town, where for years Republicans had a stranglehold on just about every elected office, the Democrats now have the upper hand and a very real chance to claim a 5-0 absolute majority on the town board in November’s election.
Meanwhile, in East Hampton Town, where the Democrats currently have their own 5-0 majority on the town board, there is growing restlessness over the way town business is conducted as evidenced by new signs of life for a Republican Party that was all but moribund a year ago.
The opposing scenarios being played out in the neighboring towns are actually just the opposite ends of the same political cycle, in which one party’s fortunes rise while the other’s suffer.
The difference is the emergence of new parties, including the Independence and Conservative parties and factions within existing parties, such as the Reform Democrats in East Hampton, now play a bigger role and might help accelerate the process.
That would appear to be mirrored on the national scene, where there are signs that the Democrats are splitting into a left wing that more resembles the Social Democrats of European politics, and a more conservative centrist wing, while some Republicans show signs of being willing to decouple their political fortunes from the extreme right-wing, hardline approach of President Donald Trump.
How well that will play out nationally is yet to be seen. Locally, at least, having leadership drawn from as broad a political spectrum as possible is a good thing, and having more than a token opposition is almost required to make sure those in control are not asleep at the switch or engaged in nefarious activities.
That’s why we welcome the efforts of Republicans in East Hampton to reinvent themselves by casting a broader net in their search for viable candidates who might be able to provide a much needed counterbalance to the sitting town board.
Similarly, we bemoan the status of the Southampton Town Republicans, who in recent years have seemed to be struggling to find dynamic candidates who will appeal to a broader public. This year, although the Republicans have nominated two newcomers, James Ding and Rick Martel, to run for town board, a week after their convention, they have yet to have chosen a candidate for town supervisor, and that’s a sorry state of affairs.