New Candidate Seeks Village Seat

The East Hampton Star | April 4, 2018

By Jamie Bufalino

Michael Heller    Rose Brown, a first-time candidate for East Hampton Village Board, is running on the Fish Hooks Party ticket with Arthur Graham, an incumbent seeking his first full term.

Michael Heller

Rose Brown, a first-time candidate for East Hampton Village Board, is running on the Fish Hooks Party ticket with Arthur Graham, an incumbent seeking his first full term.

Rose Brown, a member of the East Hampton Village design review board and the former chairwoman of the planning board, has declared her intention to run for one of the two village board seats up for a vote in the June 19 election.

The seats are currently held by Arthur Graham and Bruce Siska. Mr. Graham will make a bid for re-election with Ms. Brown as his running mate, and Mr. Siska will also seek re-election. 

In order to get on the ballot, candidates must submit a petition signed by at least 50 residents by May 15.

As the only newcomer to declare a candidacy in the trustee race thus far, Ms. Brown said she is running with Mr. Graham because they share the same determination to find ways to revitalize the village. “The village is known as the village of ‘no’ and we have to move away from that and become the village of ‘yes’ when possible,” she said. She and Mr. Graham will run as members of the Fish Hooks Party, named after Capt. Samuel (Fishhooks) Mulford, an East Hampton whaler and New York assemblyman who, in the early 1700s, traveled to England to take a stand against the British imposition of a tax on whale oil.

Ms. Brown was born and raised in East Hampton, and she and her husband, Greg Brown, a detective sergeant in the village police force, have three children, one in high school, one in middle school, and one in elementary school. A certified social worker, Ms. Brown has worked at the Child Development Center of the Hamptons, and later as director of development at the East Hampton Day Care Learning Center.

Mr. Siska was first appointed to the board in 2011, filling out the term of David Brown, who resigned after an 18-year tenure. He was re-elected in 2012 to fill out the remainder of Mr. Brown’s term and, in 2014, he was elected to a full four-year term. Mr. Graham, who is known as Tiger, won his seat last June in the village’s first contested election in more than a decade. He defeated Philip O’Connell, an incumbent who had been appointed in November 2016 following the death of Elbert Edwards. The two were vying to fill out the final year of Mr. Edwards’s term.

In an email on Tuesday requesting a signature for his nominating petition, Mr. Graham laid out the reasons he thinks his running mate would be a better fit for the board than Mr. Siska. “Bruce is a good guy and a friend, but  he addition of Rose, who has 20 years serving in village government, brings youth and another independent woman’s voice to the issues we face in the village to bring more transparency to the governing process.” 

Ms. Brown touted her governing experience, including her work as a member of the planning board during the time when the village crafted its Comprehensive Plan, as a vital credential for her candidacy. That plan, adopted in 2002, placed “primary importance upon preserving and protecting the village’s residential neighborhoods.” 

Ms. Brown said she still agrees with that premise, but thinks the plan needs updating, particularly in regard to the current state of the commercial district, which she said had “lost its vibrancy.” She said the village board should consider options to bolster businesses, including extending the parking times on Main Street and Newtown Lane to three-hour time frames. Given the current one-hour limit, she said, “You can’t see a movie and get back to your car in that time.” 

She believes more “wet uses” or food-focused shops such as a frozen yogurt store should be allowed in the business district as long as they do not impact water quality or create sanitation issues. 

Her experience as a working mother, said Ms. Brown, makes her attuned to the struggle that young families face in trying to build a life in the village, particularly when it comes to finding affordable housing. “When Greg and I started out, a local resident rented us an apartment at a reduced rate, and I don’t think there’s that same opportunity now,” said Ms. Brown, who believes the village should encourage the creation of more second-story apartments in the business district. 

“I want this to be a place for my kids as well, and not just a resort,” said Ms. Brown, adding that she thought Herrick Park was in dire need of sprucing up, both in terms of landscaping and repairing the tennis courts. Although she described the current village board as a “well-oiled machine,” she said it would benefit from including someone with fresh ideas. “They are doing a good job, but they don’t utilize the village the way that many younger families do.”