Choice of Two Among Three Good Candidates

The East Hampton Star | By Editorial | June 14, 2018

There is not a whole lot of daylight, at least on the surface, among the three candidates for East Hampton Village trustee whose names will be on Tuesday’s ballot. Rose Brown, Arthur Graham, and Bruce Siska are facing off, with the top two vote-getters winning seats. Mr. Graham and Mr. Siska are incumbents; Ms. Brown is taking her first shot at elected office. Narrowing the choice from three to two is difficult; all of the candidates are able and qualified.

Setting policy for East Hampton Village is no small thing. Village Hall must tend to the high-rent downtown retail hub, watch over the ocean beaches, tend to roads and public spaces, and meet the needs of diverse residents. This is in a climate of extreme real estate pressure and ongoing demands for police, fire, and ambulance services. Add long-term threats from sea level rise and concerns about deer and water pollution, and the relatively small municipal board has a very large portfolio to contend with.

Of the three candidates, Ms. Brown and Mr. Graham seem more willing to re-examine the status quo than Mr. Siska, but only marginally so. All three are eager to see more apartments for year-round occupation above stores on Main Street and Newtown Lane. All three favor some form of sewage treatment for the central area of the village. All three want tougher building standards to slow the hulking suburbanization of the village’s side streets.

While Mr. Siska feels that the public is happy with the way the village is being run, Ms. Brown and Mr. Graham seek to shake things up a little. For example, both would like a new comprehensive plan, which would take the pulse of existing residents and provide a map for future growth. Ms. Brown would show a little more leniency toward the village’s handful of inns. Mr. Graham is eager to do something about leaf-blower noise, at least during the summer season.

Part of Ms. Brown’s pitch to voters is that she is substantially younger than the current board members and would bring a different perspective as well as provide a conduit to a social circle not often heard from in village deliberations. We do not intend to show disrespect for the long-serving member of the village board, but it is hard to argue that relative youth would not be a valuable addition.

Mr. Graham strikes us as something of a fire-baller, which might grate on some but is a useful trait in local government. We very much like his strong commitment to a modern wastewater treatment system downtown, as well as to encouraging new apartments whose occupants might work in help-starved local businesses. 

Mr. Siska has been an important part of village government for almost 25 years, but in making an endorsement, we must evaluate who among the candidates would be most likely to contribute energetically going forward. By that measure, Ms. Brown and Mr. Graham are our choices. Election Day in the village is Tuesday from noon to 9 p.m. at the Emergency Services Building on Cedar Street.