The issues in East Hampton are big. One perennial problem: ensuring that the town remains affordable to its workers when its beauty and charm lure wealthy people whose home purchases drive property values insanely high. One new problem: figuring out how to accommodate offshore wind energy, an essential part of the town's energy future. One existential problem: what to do about sea level rise, particularly in Montauk. Solving them is critical.
Democratic Supervisor Peter K. Van Scoyoc, 60, of Northwest Woods, has been solid, and sometimes visionary, in his first term after previous stints on the town board and its zoning and planning boards. He has tried to accelerate the pace of building affordable housing, and expects help from a new 0.5% tax on real estate transactions passed by the State Legislature to help fund such construction and defray upfront costs for first-time home buyers. He has been a voice of reason on where to land a cable bringing wind energy to the South Fork from an offshore wind farm, preferring the minimal impact from doing so in Wainscott, which also would bring the town a multimillion-dollar community benefits package. And, critically, he has led the discussion of the inevitable necessity of retreating from the coast in Montauk.
David Gruber, 67, of East Hampton, another Democrat running on the Independence and Libertarian lines, is a knowledgeable contrarian. He wants to move faster on affordable housing, an admirable goal, but does not account for the real-world difficulties of doing so. He plans on Day 1 of his tenure to call The Netherlands to bring in experts to examine Montauk's vulnerability, which conjures images of miles-long walls or dikes. Gruber also discounts Wainscott as a landing site for the wind cable, arguing that it would make more sense to bring it ashore in Brookhaven and run the power back to the East End via an upgraded transmission system. But he wrongly contends that solar power is the only realistic way to go green while satisfying East Hampton's growing energy needs.
Gruber brings vitality to the race, but Van Scoyoc, deeply knowledgeable about the town and by nature someone who seeks cooperation and builds coalitions to deal with problems, has the right temperament and skills to shepherd East Hampton toward the future.
Newsday endorses Van Scoyoc. — The editorial board