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Jul 15, 2013 6:40 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Havemeyer Will Not Seek Reelection To Southampton Town Trustees

Jul 17, 2013 10:54 AM

Southampton Town Trustee Frederick Havemeyer is withdrawing from the upcoming election in November, abandoning his effort to win a sixth term.

Mr. Havemeyer informed the Suffolk County Board of Elections on Monday that he was declining the Democratic nomination for one of the five Town Trustees seats on the November ballot this year.

He declined to comment on Monday about why he suddenly withdrew from the race, other than to say, “Things have changed too much. I can’t stay on the board for another term.”

He said he would not resign immediately, though, and will serve the remainder of his term through the end of the year, because, he said, he has some projects he wants to see completed before he departs.

Southampton Town Democratic Party Chairman Gordon Herr said the party will nominate a replacement for Mr. Havemeyer on the party ticket by late Thursday, the deadline for nominees to be finalized with the Suffolk County Board of Elections. He would not identify who the candidate will be by name, but he said it would be a newcomer to local politics but someone with a long history of environmental consciousness and experience on the waters of the East End.

“I am sad that Fred thought that personal things would prevent him from running, but I do understand,” Mr. Herr said. “In spite of that, I’m very confident that we have a very strong slate. We feel that all of the people on our line, unlike some of the Republicans, have the background and qualifications to do that job.”

The GOP also lost a Town Trustee candidate this week when they were informed by Cornelius Kelly that he was going to withdraw from the race as well. Mr. Kelly said on Tuesday that his family obligations—he has four children under the age of 6—have proven to be too much to allow him to sustain a campaign in the coming months. Mr. Kelly ran for the County Legislature in 2011, losing to incumbent Jay Schneiderman, and had been discussed as a possible Town Board candidate this year before being nominated as one of the party’s four Trustees candidates.

Republican Committee Chairman William Wright said the party will not nominate any more Trustees candidates and will proceed with a three-candidate slate: incumbent Ed Warner Jr., Ray Overton and Scott Horowitz, who also ran in 2011.

Mr. Havemeyer will be the second longtime incumbent Trustee to leave the board at the end of the year. Trustee Jon Semlear, who has been on the board for 20 years, announced last winter that he would not seek reelection either.

Mr. Semlear is a Republican, as was Mr. Havemeyer until last year. Last year, he and his fellow Trustee, Eric Shultz, switched their political registration to Democrat—Mr. Shultz had won nine elections to the Trustees as a Republican— following a contentious split with the GOP during the 2011 election, when the two men accepted cross-endorsements from the Democrats and the GOP leadership dropped them from the party’s slate.

Until this week, though, Mr. Havemeyer had been positioning himself for another run. He attended screenings with the Democratic, Republican and Independence committees in the spring and attended the Democratic Party’s nominating convention in May, thanking its members for their support and ballyhooing his and his running mates’ chances in the election.

He received only the Democratic nomination, though. The Independence Party—the third most powerful after the major parties, in terms of votes it garners in recent town elections—gave its nominations to incumbent Trustees Bill Pell and Mr. Shultz, Mr. Horowitz and Mr. Pickerell, but not to incumbents Mr. Havemeyer or Mr. Warner, even though it could have given out a fifth nomination.

Mr. Havemeyer has been a Town Trustee for 11 years. He was first appointed to the board in 2002, following the death of Trustee Peter Corwith, and has won reelection to the board six times.

In recent years he had arguably been the hardest-working Trustee, and the only one to keep regular office hours at Town Hall for most of each weekday. In the last several weeks, though, he had been conspicuously absent from the office—a knot of files, folders, notes, studies, reports, maps and photos still marking his once regular workspace on the Trustees’ office conference table.

“He’s going to be sorely missed by the people of this town—he’s been a slave for that board,” Trustee Jon Semlear said. “Having spent so many years on that board myself, it’s even sad for me to see someone who loved it so much having to walk away from it.”

Mr. Havemeyer had been a strong supporter of the Trustees’ policies against allowing oceanfront property owners to erect “hard” structures amid the dunes of local beaches to protect their homes. He was a vocal critic of homeowners and their attorneys and the state Department of Environmental Conservation this past winter when several homeowners erected steel walls across the front of their properties, claiming them to be “in-kind” replacements of long-standing wooden bulkheads—a claim Mr. Havemeyer decried as blatantly dishonest.

Mr. Havemeyer also spearheaded efforts to restore the southern end of Lake Agawam and reduce the amount of polluted runoff that reached the pond, as well as this spring’s “treatment” of Mill Pond in Water Mill with a clay-like compound that is hoped will lower phosphorous levels in the pond and reduce algae blooms that have choked the pond each summer for many years.

His colleagues on the Trustees also credited Mr. Havemeyer with having been instrumental in restoring the board’s financial health amid tightening town budgets in recent years. It was Mr. Havemeyer, Mr. Semlear said, who conceived and managed the board’s selling of sand excavated from the Mecox Bay floodplain, a process that brought in more than $1 million for the board in the wake of Hurricane Irene and Superstorm Sandy.

“He created that whole sand program,” Mr. Semlear said. “He set it up and ran it like a business.”

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By xtiego (698), bridgehampton on Jul 15, 13 7:41 PM
Why? If you don't like Fred, feel free to give a reason. He's the hardest working Trustee in that office and has been for over a decade
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Jul 15, 13 8:09 PM
Ditto. His plain speaking to those in power will be missed.

Fair winds to you, sir . . .
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Jul 15, 13 9:39 PM
Sorry to see Fred leaving as he has done so much for the town than any Trustee. He is a gentleman who has family obligations and has served with great and tireless passion, smarts and true Integrity. Big boots to fill. Thank you and my best to your beautiful family. See you on the water and hope you will watch and advise from a position of great knowledge of the inner workings of our Town.
By blackduck1 (20), southampton on Jul 15, 13 11:33 PM
1 member liked this comment
Anyone who loves the real Hamptons and knows Fred is deeply saddened by his impending departure. One of the finest public servants who ever served the Town.

Imbued with decency and refinement, traits he shared with his wife, he switched to Democratic affiliation after the Party supported him due to their shared values on the environment. Such honorable sensibilities to thank the Party that welcomed him with open arms, recognizing a superior public servant.

Contrast that with that ...more
By Obbservant (449), southampton on Jul 25, 13 10:37 AM
He saw the LIGHT!
By gallerygirl (29), southampton on Jul 16, 13 6:50 AM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By gallerygirl (29), southampton on Jul 16, 13 6:51 AM
A good man, I wish him well.
By number19 (111), Westhampton on Jul 16, 13 8:56 AM
1 member liked this comment
As PBR said above, Fred Havemeyer has always spoken truth to power, something we badly need around here. I wish him all the best and hope we get more like him on the board.
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Jul 16, 13 10:26 AM
3 members liked this comment
Article updated with more detail.
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Jul 16, 13 4:03 PM
called away to Boston on family matters so now I can finish my comment. Good that he is not running since he has a family that is in need at this time. He has been a great trustee and a speaker for the baymen etc. sorry I aborted my earlier comment.
By xtiego (698), bridgehampton on Jul 17, 13 7:30 PM
No worries - it's best you left your comment that way because it may have sparked comments like mine and others which otherwise would have not appeared.

I can honestly say that Fred is the only politician I've ever met/dealt with who I do not believe had an alternative agenda. He has a constant desire to learn new things about the Town, about the bays, about the Trustees etc. and appreciates their history. While I don't have anything particularly "bad" to say about the other Trustees, ...more
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Jul 17, 13 7:41 PM
3 members liked this comment
"Independence Party third most powerful after the major parties"
In 2011 Mr Havemeyer received 1210 votes off Conservative line
775 off independence line. Mr. Wright do you do any research before
writing your articles? Or just write what's sounds good? Anyway good luck in the
Future and thank you for your service Mr. Havemeyer.
By The Gipper (11), Sag Harbor on Jul 18, 13 6:50 PM
nature I agree!!! again sorry
By xtiego (698), bridgehampton on Jul 18, 13 6:56 PM
The article was updated again on Wednesday, and the added details ( especially about his views regarding certain bulkhead replacements this past winter) make it painfully clear that the voters have some big shoes to fill here.

Finest Kind . . .
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Jul 19, 13 5:51 PM
Have the Dems announced a new candidate per Gordon Herr's comment above?
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Jul 19, 13 5:54 PM
yes- they have nominated a lumpy sack of potaoes to fill his seat
By CaptainSig (716), Dutch Harbor on Jul 19, 13 10:11 PM
New article out.
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Jul 22, 13 12:37 PM
I wished he was staying and a different trustee was leaving. :(
By Terbear (77), Southampton on Jul 22, 13 10:07 PM
Although I disagreed with his recent political strategic moves by changing parties, Fred has been an excellent Trustee and a tireless worker. His replacement will have big shoes to fill.
By briantymann (31), westhampton beach on Jul 25, 13 2:30 PM