The Village of East Hampton faces its first contested race for a trustee seat in 17 years when voters cast ballots in Tuesday’s special election.
Incumbent trustee Philip O’Connell was appointed to fill the seat left vacant after the death of trustee Elbert Edwards in October, and is now being challenged for the position by planning board member Arthur Graham. The winner of the election will complete the remainder of Edward’s four-year term, which ends on July 2, 2018.
O’Connell said his experience as the former planning board chairman and as a previous member of the planning and zoning committee qualify him as the best candidate for the job. O’Connell also is the village liaison to the East Hampton Town Community Preservation Fund and has served as a volunteer firefighter for the past 15 years.
Graham “seems to be quite capable. I just have more experience for a longer time in a variety of positions,” O’Connell said. “What I’ve been hearing in general is people are happy with the way the village has been performing and running. Surprisingly enough, I haven’t had any complaints.”
Graham, who was appointed to fill the position left by O’Connell on the planning board, said voters have brought up zoning code reforms as a primary issue. He added that his experience as an investment banker and stockbroker would be valuable for managing village finances.
“No matter who the voters choose, the village really doesn’t lose,” Graham said. “But I bring a different set of skills to the board. I understand how debt finance works. I understand budgets, I understand appreciation. I understand the way things work.”
Graham also is a former president of the East Hampton Historical Society, and former chairman of the Thomas Moran Trust, a nonprofit organization that plans to restore the 19th century artist’s historic studio in East Hampton Village.
Voting takes place at the Emergency Services Center on Cedar Street, which will remain open from noon to 9 p.m.