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Sep 29, 2009 7:38 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

East Hampton Town's union will wait on endorsements

Sep 29, 2009 7:38 PM

Despite Democratic Town Supervisor candidate Ben Zwirn’s endorsement by the Long Island Federation of Labor, members of the town’s local Civil Service Employees Union will not even meet with the candidates to decide whether they will issue endorsements until October 26—just one week before Election Day.

“We’re going last minute, but we intend to have members of our union at all public appearances of candidates. We’ll look for any inconsistencies in their positions,” said CSEA president Heath Liebman. “I don’t necessarily support either candidate. The election is of concern to me. I see it as a business hierarchy. Aside from that, I’m curious to know who the persons I am working with in the future are.”

Mr. Liebman said that in the 2007 election he believed former union president John “J.J.” Kremm had personally favored Town Supervisor Bill McGintee, but that he wasn’t sure that the rest of the union shared his opinion. This year, he wanted to make very clear that the union has not yet taken a stand.

“I have no knowledge of either candidate and I really don’t have a preference,” he said.

Mr. Liebman added that he recently received a letter from Mr. Zwirn explaining that some comments the candidate had made to the Wainscott Citizens Advisory Committee about whether town employees should be allowed to take on outside work had been taken out of context. Mr. Zwirn said that he wanted to draft policies that would keep department heads from taking on consulting work that could be at odds ethically with their town positions, but that he did not want to keep town workers from taking second jobs.

Springs in play

The mood at Ashawagh Hall was jubilant last Wednesday night, as the Republican, Independence and Conservative parties held a meet-the-candidates night with members of the GOP slate.

More than 100 people had a chance to discuss issues one-on-one with the candidates in an event that was likely one of the best-attended recent political gatherings in this election.

About 25 percent of East Hampton’s year-round population lives in Springs, and the GOP has made the hamlet’s working-class and artist population a major focus of its campaign.

The money race

People who say they are seeing more advertisements for Democrats than Republicans in the local papers lately are correct. GOP co-chair Trace Duryea said this week that the reason is that the Republicans just don’t have the money to wage a media campaign. She made her case in a letter to the editor of The East Hampton Press this week.

Many of the Democrats’ ads are paid for by its Campaign 2009 committee, set up specifically for this race. Though that committee had little more than $2,000 in the bank as of the last Board of Elections filing date in late July, The Democrats have long benefited from financial backing from the East Hampton Conservators, a Political Action Committee that last week endorsed the Democratic slate for Town Board and ran full-page ads in local newspapers announcing its decision. The Conservators had $38,000 in the bank at the end of July.

Meanwhile, the Republicans have been raising and spending money hand-over-fist. The GOP brought in $62,000 in the first half of 2009 from 284 individual donors and 58 businesses.

The GOP has been holding at least one major campaign event each month since the beginning of the year. Most of those events have included meals at local restaurants, and while they have been costly to produce, they have been aimed at creating a spirit of camaraderie among town Republicans at a time when there is widespread dissatisfaction with the current Democratic-controlled Town Board.

The GOP may get a significant financial boost this week, as it hosts its second high-end fund-raiser, this time at the home of Rich and Debbie Gherardi on Saturday, October 3. Mr. Gherardi is the owner of the Sand Dollar Development Corporation, which builds high-end custom homes. Tickets to that event will be $750 per person or $1,000 per couple. For more information, write to mrfish4430@aol.com or call 329-1040.

Activist backing

Long-time civil rights activist Bob Zellner, who lives in Southampton and once ran for Southampton Town Supervisor, recently backed John Whelan, a Democratic candidate running for East Hampton Town Board.

“My friend John Whelan is one of those rare individuals possessing both independence of mind and uncanny foresight. With friends in high places, his presence on the Town Board will raise it’s collective IQ, and increase the board’s clout statewide and nationally,” he said in an announcement of his endorsement.

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They will probably endorse Zwirn. Why not they endorsed McGintee. They are a glutton for punishment.
By razza5350 (1911), East Hampton on Sep 30, 09 10:19 AM
I can see why you would think that razza350, but I disagree. The town workers know what McGintee has done to them, and McGintee was the golden boy of the East Hampton Conservators. Zwirn is a big member of the Conservators and donated to them and McGintee even after McGintee's problems were exposed. They know McGintee and Zwirn are cut from the same cloth and I can't believe they would vote for McGintee again.
By truthinbonac (46), Amagansett on Sep 30, 09 7:53 PM
I heard the East Hampton PBA endorsed Wilkinson, is that true? Does anyone know for sure? The PBA members sure know McGintee and sure know whether to expect more of the same from the new crop of Democrat candidates. I'm also sure they have contacts in the Nassau law enforcement community and got a heads up from them.
By truthinbonac (46), Amagansett on Oct 3, 09 4:12 PM