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Jun 10, 2009 5:08 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

No debate again this year in Westhampton Beach

Jun 10, 2009 5:08 PM

Although the Westhampton Beach Village trustee elections are shaping up to be as contentious as ever this year, the four candidates vying for the two open board seats will not be participating in a public debate before the June 19 election.

Of the four candidates, only business owner Elyse Richman and current Village Board member Hank Tucker responded to calls from the League of Women Voters of the Hamptons, according to Anne Marshall, the chair of voter services for the organization. The League has previously helped hold debates in other local elections, including those in Southampton Village.

The other two candidates vying for seats on the board, former Southampton Town Police officer Stephen Arrasate and current trustee Joan Levan, did not respond to calls placed by the League, according to Ms. Marshall.

On Tuesday, Mr. Arrasate said he never returned the call because he is new to politics and has been overwhelmed with trying to prepare for his first election. “I’ve been so busy with getting signs and talking to people,” Mr. Arrasate said.

Also on Tuesday, Ms. Levan said she never received a call from the League, adding that any message left on her answering machine at home could have been accidentally deleted.

Elections in Westhampton Beach will be held on Friday, June 19, and voters can cast their ballots at Village Hall between noon and 9 p.m.

Ms. Richman, who is chronicling her campaign on the social networking website Twitter, said this week that it is too bad that there will not be a debate this year. She owns Shock, Baby Shock, and Shock Ice Cream on Main Street in Westhampton Beach, and is running as a member of the Shock Party.

“I think it’s unfortunate for the residents of the village that we won’t have a debate,” Ms. Richman said. “There have been too many things done behind closed doors and explanations are owed.”

The other three candidates also said they are disappointed that there will not be a debate this year. Ms. Levan and Mr. Tucker both declined to 
participate in a debate two years ago; Ms. Levan said she did not think a debate was necessary at the time 
while Mr. Tucker, who also owns Holey Moses Cheesecake in Westhampton, said he was too busy moving his business to participate in 2007.

Mr. Tucker said he would have liked to debate this year so the candidates could explain why they are best equipped to govern the village.

“We should be talking about how to handle the eruv,” Mr. Tucker said, in reference to a controversy generated last summer over a proposal by the Hampton Synagogue to establish a symbolic religious boundary in the village. “We should talk about contracts in the police department and other departments, and record keeping,” he added.

Westhampton Beach Police Chief Ray Dean’s contract expired at the end of last year and board members are now negotiating a new one. Board members are also negotiating new contracts for the employees of the village’s police department and Department of Public Works.

Ms. Levan and Mr. Tucker are running together on the Lightning Party as they look to secure two-year terms on the board. Ms. Levan has served as trustee since 2006, when Mayor Conrad Teller appointed her to the seat he vacated when he became mayor. She successfully ran for election in 2007. Mr. Tucker has been on the board for two years.

Ms. Richman ran for Village Board last year as a write-in candidate after she was kicked off the ballot when her petition was declared invalid.

Mr. Arrasate, meanwhile, is running for trustee on the Osprey Party and now sits on the Westhampton Beach Architectural Review Board.

Ms. Marshall noted that Westhampton Beach resident Clint Greenbaum recently contacted the League asking that it help set up a debate. She explained that her group normally does not initiate debates in villages and will organize such events only if asked by a resident or organization.

“I think that anyone, any candidate running for public office in a contested election, should have an obligation to debate issues,” said Mr. Greenbaum, who also sits on the Westhampton Beach School Board.

The last debate involving Westhampton Beach candidates was held four years ago at the Westhampton Free Library and was co-sponsored by The Southampton Press and the Greater Westhampton/Dune Road Civic Association. In every village election since then, the candidates have not been able to settle on arrangements for a debate.

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I was disappointed by the email I recieved from the League of Women Voters
as follows:

Due to the lack of response from two of the four trustee candidates , The league of Women Voters of the Hamptons will not be involved in a debate in Westhampton Beach this year.
Thank you so much for agreeing to participate on such short notice Your Positive response indicates your awareness of the importance of public airing of issues affecting your community.
I WAS available , I am very ...more
By shock (70), whb on Jun 9, 09 8:53 PM
Debates are great; but absent that we have certain facts known to everyone and a debate complete with cat calls would not add much.

In every village election there are two real issues for the residents and taxpayers of Westhampton Beach.

The first real issue is:

“Of the candidates running, who will make sure that the village is properly run; that snow is plowed in the winter; the beach is clean and safe in the summer; leaves are picked up in the fall; and that village ...more
By Publius (358), Westhampton Beach on Jun 10, 09 2:59 PM
Publius
Don't speak for me and don't put words in my mouth, Never stated anything to the 2 points you have brought up here repeatedly, where have you gotten your information, have you been following me on twitter , iI don't think so, Twitter is fun along wiith every form of social networking, why do feel the need to bringup an eruv issue that has been a mute point for almost a year now Lets get real and deal with the here and now.
Stop playing this eruv card.
Peace Elyse
By shock (70), whb on Jun 10, 09 3:12 PM
Joan received the call and choose to ignore it. I've known Joan personally for years and she is much too smart to accidently erase a phone message. She is smart enough though to erase unwanted messages after listening to them. And Joan-please don't blame this on your poor husband.
By westhamptonboy (227), Westhampton on Jun 10, 09 5:33 PM
Why couldn't the league arrange for a forum with Elyse and Hank?

I think Dean Speir should offer to moderate a debate. He could use his sidearm to keep order. People would pay to go to it!
By gordie howe (55), hockeytown usa on Jun 10, 09 7:05 PM
Who said the eruv is a dead letter, a non-issue? Remember who was on the eruv committee?

“I think that anyone, any candidate running for public office in a contested election, should have an obligation to debate issues,” said Mr. Greenbaum, who also sits on the Westhampton Beach School Board."

Wait for it...

http://www.27east.com/story_detail.cfm?id=135850&town=Westhampton%20Beach&page=2

Click!
By Publius (358), Westhampton Beach on Jun 11, 09 3:31 PM
Publius, what a riddle you are, a master of the quick-change. If Two short days you go from some not-very-subtle cheerleading for the two incumbents, to reasoned and lucid, and then to the utterly obscure. Wait for what?
By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on Jun 11, 09 10:04 PM
If you were caught lying and acting illegally would you want to face the public for a debate. Come on, they don't want to answer to the whole village,only the few they have i n their pockets,who are probably waiting for favorspromised.A fine example did everyone with the zip code 11978 recieve their campaign letter,I didn't, but I did read a copy, lies ,lies and more lies!
By curious (77), westhampton beach on Jun 13, 09 7:45 PM
There is a lot of critcism of Joan Levan and Hank Tucker. They have put there positions out there.

1. NO ERUV. They recognize the requirements of the Establishment Clause (often referred to as separation of church and state). Each have vowed that they will not proclaim that any village property or thoroughfare is privately Jewish, (an eruv) even if it were to be promised that it would only be a "symbolic" declaration.

They understand symbolism IS important. Whether it be the ...more
By Publius (358), Westhampton Beach on Jun 15, 09 10:43 AM