Responding to a persistent clamor from a wide swath of the eastern Long Island, East Hampton Supervisor Larry Cantwell found a way to reduce noise from aircraft that use the town airport. After refusing Federal Aviation Administration funds, Cantwell and the town board set curfews that provide some quiet to residents while allowing reasonable access to the East End by air. It's working.
The challenge to any leader of this famously bucolic town is to harness the tourist economy that powers it and protect the landscape which lures it. Differing responses to that tension are at the heart of the contest between Cantwell and his challenger. Tom Knobel, who turns 60 on Monday, is a bayman from Springs, chairs the local Republican party, and is a former town trustee and board member.
Knobel is critical of Cantwell's handling of the surge of summer visitors to Montauk. After an underwhelming response to unruly behavior and overcrowded clubs, a heavy-handed crackdown by police and code enforcers dampened the atmosphere and profits of local merchants. But Cantwell found a balance by midseason and seems ready for 2016.
However, Cantwell, 64, a Democrat from East Hampton, risks seriously devaluing his first-term accomplishments with his shortsighted attempts to block Uber and other ride-sharing services in the town. Traditional taxi services are unreliable at peak times, if available at all, and charge outrageous fares. It's likely the State Legislature will pass regulations for the whole state, rendering his stubborn policy an asterisk. Knobel, who supports allowing Uber, is an authentic voice of the community who says full-time residents need good-paying jobs and affordable housing. But he doesn't have a workable plan to accomplish these goals.
Newsday endorses Cantwell.