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Suffolk County Legislature

It is almost typical in a year when East End Republicans seem hell-bent on destroying the proud local history of the GOP that perhaps its strongest candidate, Linda Kabot, is being put in an impossible situation.

Kabot is a former Southampton Town Board member and Town Supervisor and clearly that is where her voter base sits. In fact, Kabot once tallied over 4000 write-in votes, an achievement unheard of hereabouts.

But she is pitted against the Democratic incumbent Bridget Fleming, seeking a third term in the County Legislature. Fleming, too, has proven to be popular, but as opposed to Kabot, over the entire district; Kabot has never run outside Southampton before.

It is more than a popularity contest however, but the two candidates tend to agree on the major issues, like erosion and pollution, and also seem to respect each other. Certainly, Kabot has not lost any of her campaign skills: she is well versed, a straight shooter, a tireless worker, and smart as a whip.

Fleming has many of the same attributes, and seems to have the ear of important allies on the state and federal level like Governor Andrew Cuomo, and Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer.

She has the edge as the incumbent; there has to be a good reason for making a change, and there isn’t one. She’s done a great job representing the East End in Hauppauge.

As for Kabot, it took an orchestrated smear attack and some ugly back-room dealing to remove her from office because the police department was knee-deep in scandal and she was much too smart — and tough — to look the other way. Every citizen of Southampton Town should feel beholden to her, and it is more than a little surprising local women’s rights groups didn’t rally around her.

The Independent endorses Bridget Fleming.

For East Hampton Town Supervisor

We think David Gruber, the so-called Fusion Party candidate for East Hampton Town Supervisor, is misunderstood by some people in town who may not know him. Yes, he is a brilliant fellow and he knows what he’s talking about, but he also possesses a sparkling sense of humor and lust for life.

More importantly, he has a passion for this town that motivates him to stay involved in local politics, and that’s what we want in our politicians.

When measured against an eight-year incumbent, however, results matter more than anything else. Peter Van Scoyoc has served this town for 20 years, and has been supervisor for two. There’s been the requisite amount of criticism and disgruntled taxpayers and then some, but that’s par for the course.

It’s how he conducts himself, how he runs the show, and how the town board interacts that matters, and Van Scoyoc scores high on every count. He is respectful, he is cool under pressure, he doesn’t get rattled, and he’s on the job. Most of all, he holds the line on new taxes, and in the end, that is the best attribute a public servant can have.

We disagree with his position on Deepwater Wind and its proposed South Fork Wind Farm, but we have a hunch it is evolving, and that when push comes to shove he’ll do the right thing for our environment: keep it off our beaches and, to the extent possible, away from our fisheries.

The Independent endorses Van Scoyoc.

Southampton Supervisor

Democrat incumbent Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman has been a fixture in these parts for two decades now, but he certainly hasn’t become jaded.

As Southampton Town supervisor he’s been forced to navigate through some controversial issues, handle a number of angry constituents, face legal threats, and balance development and preservation. In other words, another day at the office.

That’s what Schneiderman does: he’s calm, he’s reasonable, he listens, and doesn’t draw lines in the sand. Decisions are made after thoughtful deliberations involving the public and other board members. As a result, the town churns quite nicely.

Alex Gregor, the Independence Party candidate and current highway superintendent, is taking on Schneiderman, in our opinion, to make a point: that the party he is representing should have endorsed him initially instead of giving Schneiderman the nod. Gregor challenged Schneiderman in a primary, winning the Independence Party nomination. REMOVE It’s a point which should be listened to.

Gregor has spent his time as an elected official proving pundits and politicians wrong. He’s got a loyal fan base because he doesn’t mince words, is willing to take on the powers that be, and doesn’t hide behind the job title. For a newspaper often hindered from digging out the truth it is refreshing to have someone in public office so open and honest. Townsfolk can thank him for short circuiting the move to privatize a portion of Tuckahoe Road, squaring off against some pretty powerful people in the process.

Greg Robins, the Republican candidate, has a wealth of knowledge. A retired schoolteacher, he’s spent nearly four decades in North Sea and is a volunteer fireman. He knows his way around the block. He’s not glib, but we suspect he would be tenacious pursuing his agenda.

Other than correct the inconsistencies in the town’s assessment — which has negatively affected his on home — he hasn’t really given a clear picture of what he hopes to accomplish, though he has some interesting ideas about affordable housing.

The Independent endorses Jay Schneiderman.

Southampton Town Board

The incumbent John Bouvier is joined by newcomer Craig Catalanotto on the Democratic Party line. Rick Martel and Charles McArdle, both political newcomers, are the Republican challengers. The top two vote getters earn seats on the town board regardless of party affiliation.

Bouvier has been an excellent board member who has studied diligently the nuances of some big important issues. He thinks things through before making a decision. His calling card, though, is his tireless work promoting clean water solutions and other environmentally-friendly habits, and he’s been doing it for quite some time now. In fact, he’s almost a pioneer when it comes to nitrogen loading, smart septic solutions, and groundwater pollution. Thank God he’s been on the job — with the perfluorinated compound crisis making drinking water more fragile than ever before, and the toxic blooms in our ponds and bays more frequent, we’ll keep him as long as he’ll have us.

Catalanotto points out — no offense to the other candidates — he is young. It may not seem so important, but we must rejuvenate those who seek office just as we must encourage new volunteers to our fire and rescue departments. New blood brings fresh perspective, and he’s done a service to himself taking mentoring from Bouvier. Let’s give him a chance to see what he can do.

McArdle, a former detective and PBA president, will be used to the heat that’s for sure. He’s right when he questions just how “local” the people in line for affordable housing really are, and he’s right we need to differentiate our local kids looking for housing and give them preference over someone who has a local address for three months.

Martel’s name is almost synonymous with Hampton Bays. He’s been with the Kiwanis Club for 39 years and he’s been involved in youth sports for as long as anyone can remember. He has spent his working life at Skidmore’s Sporting Goods, a magical place for young athletes to visit for four decades. He thinks his hamlet has been neglected and he may have a point — but voters decided against returning Stan Glinka, an effective board member and hamlet resident, to the town board last election. At any rate, we’d like to see both candidates immerse themselves in town affairs with an eye on returning in two years, ready to serve full time.

Note: The Independent did not interview Hannah Pell, running on the Independence line.

We have railed against stocking municipal boards with candidates from the same party for years, but Bouvier has earned our endorsement, and Catalanotto gets a narrow nod over the other two challengers.

East Hampton Town Board

East Hampton voters are graced with four superior candidates for two town board seats including two returning incumbents, the Democrats Sylvia Overby and David Lys. The challengers are Bonnie Brady and Betsy Bambrick, two so-called Fusion Party candidates found on the Independence Party line. The two top vote-getters are elected regardless of party affiliation.

Overby, seeking a third four-year term, is often accused of rubber-stamping the party line, a fair criticism given the Democrats have controlled the proceedings for years and she seldom veers from the majority. She came up through the party pipeline, having first been appointed to the planning board by the party and serving as its chair.

Her calm demeanor and thoughtful analysis, when articulated, are welcome additions to the board, which as a whole deserves credit for keeping spending in line and meetings civil and relaxed. It’s fair to assume, though, as some critics charge, that these like-minded board members sometimes seem to have their minds made up before an agenda item has even been presented to the public, stifling dissent and sometimes making it moot.

Lys, a former Republican, is seeking a full four-year term after being appointed to fill a vacant seat and surviving a primary fight. He was touted as a free thinker who would not cower to the party bosses, but immediately agreed to switch party registrations, though he said he was going to anyway.

Lys is thorough and prepared but seems a little too close to some of the issues he champions — like the proposed Gann Road facility. Lys is a tireless worker but doesn’t take criticism well. Like most of the current board members, outside viewpoints are quickly dismissed out of hand, even when they are clearly better thought out than the board’s position. In the final analysis, we don’t want the guy who acquiesces to the party bosses, we want the guy who tells them to take a hike.

Bambrick, always one the sharper tools in the town’s shed, has been accused of being a clubhouse lawyer, and that’s possibly true. She was a department head for 20 years and wore a target for many of them, so her reluctance to go on the record about some of the shenanigans she endured is understandable.

Bambrick comes into this fray loaded for bear. She knows what’s going on in the streets, and she knows what’s going on behind closed doors. She’s exactly what this town needs, and in tandem with the renegade board member Jeff Bragman, the secrets will start unraveling — finally.

Bonnie Brady will give Montauk a needed representative on the board — something long overdue. She also brings a fisherman’s perspective to the proceedings, and that crucial part of our heritage has been undermined of late by town boards, and town trustees, driven by politics instead of tradition. Anyone who doesn’t realize our food source locally and globally is plummeting toward extinction better come to grips with the fact that fresh, wild seafood is being replaced by inbred farm-raised seafood product.

Brady is by no means a one-issue candidate, but even if she were she had us at “Hello.” The leading experts in the fisheries field recognize her wealth of knowledge. Yes, she knows where the fish are. More important, she knows how to keep them there. We need to listen.

The Independent endorses Bambrick and Brady.

For East Hampton Town Justice

Lisa Rana, a 16-year Town Justice, is a Republican who has received Democratic Party support in past elections. As the administrative judge of East Hampton, she runs one of the busiest justice courts in the state, and is the rare town justice who has earned the respect of prosecutors, defense attorneys, and defendants. Even former opponents have stepped up to endorse her.

Her opponent Andrew Strong has a sterling resume and is filling a vital role in the community as legal counsel to Organizacion Latino-Americana, but has scant local court experience and faces a significant learning curve if elected.

The Independent endorses Lisa Rana.

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