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Oct 22, 2019 2:16 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Transition Plan Evolves For East Hampton Village Mayor

Mayor Paul F. Rickenbach Jr. in his office at East Hampton Village Hall this week.   ELIZABETH VESPE
Oct 22, 2019 3:26 PM

East Hampton Village Mayor Paul F. Rickenbach Jr. said this week that when he resigns from his spot at the end of this year, the current deputy mayor, Richard Lawler, will take over the mayor’s duties on an interim basis, and the board most likely will appoint Ray Harden, a newcomer, to fill Mr. Lawler’s former seat on the Village Board.
Mr. Harden will be running for an elected seat on the board in next June’s village elections, joining Barbara Borsack, a current Village Board member who will be running for mayor, and Mr. Lawler on the Elms Party ticket. Running against them, on the NewTown Party ticket, will be former Village Police Chief Jerry Larsen, in a bid to become mayor, along with Sandra Melendez, an attorney based in the village, in a bid to become a member of the Village Board.
“It’s the cusp of a transition,” Mr. Rickenbach said Tuesday morning in his office at Village Hall. Mr. Rickenbach, who has been mayor since 1992, announced in July that he would resign at the end of this year, before his term expires, instead of seeking another four-year term as mayor in June.
Originally, the mayor had expressed a desire to spend more time with his family and travel. But this week, he explained that another reason for his imminent resignation was to allow the village residents to see the current board at work without him.
“I’m leaving early because I’d like to have village residents see others in play,” said Mr. Rickenbach, who has expressed support for Ms. Borsack’s candidacy. “The village residents might be interested in continuing that direction in office.”
Mr. Rickenbach has held the mayoral post longer than anyone else in the village, having been elected in 1993 after the death of Kenneth Wessberg, whom he credits with first getting him involved with local government. Before becoming mayor, Mr. Rickenbach was elected to the Village Board in 1988.
Ms. Borsack ran against Mr. Rickenbach for mayor in 1992, and in 2000 he asked her to run with him on the Hook Mill Party line. Ms. Borsack was elected to the Village Board that year; she was the first woman to fill a seat on the board.
Mr. Harden worked for Riverhead Building Supply for 16 years before spending another 16 years working for Ben Krupinski Builders, recently taking over ownership of the company. In addition, he served as chief of the East Hampton Fire Department, where he is a 20-year member, and is a fire coordinator for the Suffolk County 9th Division and president of the East Hampton Village Fireman’s Benevolent Association. He is co-chair on the East Hampton Village Zoning Board of Appeals and is a member of the East Hampton Town Licensing Review Board.
According to Becky Molinaro Hansen, the village administrator, when the mayor resigns, the Village Board can either appoint someone or wait for an election in June. Mr. Lawler will assume the responsibilities of the mayor until a new mayor is appointed or elected but will keep the title of deputy mayor.
“It’s a transition. I feel comfortable passing the baton and I’m optimistic with regards to how the village proceeds over the short and long term,” Mr. Rickenbach said. “You’re only as good as the people you have in place. If I’ve had success, it’s because I’ve had good people around me.”
Mr. Rickenbach explained that he understands that Mr. Larsen’s campaign has coined the village as “The Land of No.”
In part, he said, that is due to stringent zoning codes, as well as County Health Department and State Liquor Authority regulations. Mr. Rickenbach added that the lack of mom-and-pop shops is beyond village government’s control, and falls more so upon landlords.
“We have a lot of folks that have a lot of passion — whether it’s alternate fuel sources, wind power or solar power, right down to ‘Is it Springs or The Springs?’” Mr. Rickenbach said.
“I have every assurance that they’ll continue grappling with the legitimate issues of the village in an economical fashion,” the mayor said of the board he will be leaving behind.
Mr. Rickenbach will resign from his position as mayor effective December 31, 2019.
“Change is taking place all around us,” he said. “Change is good, it really is. I think at the end of the day, the village will be in very good shape.”

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This unethical tactic that attempts to control the outcome of an election has been used by other jurisdictions on Long Island that have been plagued by corruption for many years.
If this devious, methodical plan that Rickenbach has finally been truthful about, comes into play, it will certainly be a new-low for dirty Politics in East Hampton. The true title of this article should be “Desperate times call for desperate measures”
By Jerry Larsen for Mayor (1), East Hampton on Oct 28, 19 4:33 PM
2 members liked this comment
Jerry,

You couldn't be more correct with what you have said in your above post. Rickenbach made another poor decision as Mayor playing games with the residence of East Hampton. He'll have his puppets placed in office to follow his agenda, but this political move will surely give you more momentum securing your win in June 2020. Rickenbach- you should leave office now and not wait until December. Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

Jerry Larsen for Mayor!!!
By John E. Law (2), East Hampton on Oct 30, 19 7:25 AM