Morality, like art, means drawing a line someplace.
-- Oscar Wilde (1854 - 1900)
Election rumors in the Town of Southampton are heating up. Between the missing money that no one can seem to find and the implosion underway in the economy, it will take clean hands and moral strength to pull the Hamptons through this storm. The bucolic East End was a sleepy rural area at one time but that was decades ago before McMansions and heavy Republican politics. Many of the former politicians like Skip Heaney were from “up Island” and influences from neighboring towns saw the money, which flowed through the Preservation Fund coffers and moved in.
This years contests include the Supervisor’s post, Town Board slots, Town Clerk and Town Highway Superintendent. Nuzzi is running again for a slot on the board and, surprisingly, while a Crookhaven transplant and Heaney protégé he’s come out on the right side of a few issues. But, the real contests are Town Supervisor and Highway Superintendent.
First, Alex Gregor is rumored to be considering a run for William Masterson’s position as Highway Superintendent. This is not the first time they would be squaring off against each other. However, the previous race was marred by dirty tricks on the part of the Heaney Republicans and a lot of local voters remember the bad taste in their mouths over that campaign and how Masterson won. Gregor would likely win this contest and it would be a major vote for good government.
The Kabot/Throne-Holst race is a bit different. Kabot was a step up from Heaney and the Republicans who controlled Town Hall for decades. The animosity between Kabot and the Heaney controlled machine was palpable. Unfortunately, Kabot has squandered her victory and has appeared to play it safe at every turn and has not come out with strength on any important issue. Unfortunately, she has also recently dwelled upon a non-issue and leaked a negative press piece to the local organ of the Republican Party – The Southampton Press – about Throne-Holst bringing her dog to work, of all things. Try as it might, the Press’s anachronistic attempt at journalism always manages to fall on its face and show its reactionary roots. If ad sales continue as they have with other major news organizations, however, the days of the online and printed version of this publication may be numbered.
Clearly, while Anna Throne-Holst has had minor missteps in the service of improving the environment, she is an outspoken reformer. The Town now has an opportunity to make a fresh political start in a resort area that will now be severely challenged by world economic events and its local history of punitive values. The little understood financial realities that have trickled down from the derivative disaster – which has caused everything from subprime defaults to the evaporation of credit -- is something that the new Supervisor must cope with. The financial investigation that is going on in the Town, the prospects of a severely reduced budget, and the realities of the Preservation Fund drying up – will be challenging. And, all are Republican-made problems that are a result of greed and, to be charitable, mismanagement.
Throne-Holst has a steady hand and does not owe her success to any group. While the Democrats supported her in her Town Board election, they do not own her vision.