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May 20, 2011 5:44 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

East Hampton Independents Back Cohen For Town Supervisor

May 24, 2011 12:32 PM

The East Hampton Independence Party has endorsed Democratic challenger Zachary Cohen for town supervisor, reversing its previous backing of incumbent Supervisor Bill Wilkinson, a Republican.

Independence Party Chairwoman Elaine Jones announced the nomination in a press release last Friday afternoon, ending weeks of speculation over who the party would endorse or whether it would field a supervisor candidate of its own for the November election.

Party leaders came out of their nominating convention last month without a candidate for supervisor, saying they needed more time to consider their options.

Ms. Jones said her party eventually settled on Mr. Cohen, who while endorsed by the Democrats, is not a registered member of any party. Members of her party, she said, felt he would be an “independent thinker and will represent all the people of East Hampton Town.”

“Many of his ideas include raising the morale of the employees, transparent and receptive government, enforcing the town code and affordable housing,” she said in the release.

But the decision did not come easily for party leaders, who supported Mr. Wilkinson in 2007 and again in 2009. “It was the toughest decision we’ve ever had to make,” Ms. Jones said on Friday.

A committee of seven selected the party’s slate, Ms. Jones said, although she added that she spoke widely with party members in town before coming up with her own recommendations. “It’s like a little poll that we do,” she said.

Mr. Cohen, in a written statement, thanked the Independence Party for endorsing him and undertaking what he described as a thorough vetting process, saying Ms. Jones called him repeatedly with questions as she researched his background and polled members of her party.

“My endorsement by both the Democratic Party and the Independence Party shows that the current Republican majority on the board represents the views and interests of an ever-narrowing slice of the public,” Mr. Cohen said. “I have been, and always will be, committed to representing all people, independent of their political affiliation.”

On Monday, Mr. Wilkinson expressed disappointment over the party’s decision, but said he will still look to attract the support of individual Independence Party members in the upcoming campaign.

“It would be silly for me not to express some disappointment,” he said. “I think we did everything that we said we were going to do.

“I’m not sure that represents all the Independence voters and their thoughts,” he continued. “And I will appeal directly to them and to other Independence Party members to ensure that we get reelected. To say that I was disappointed in Elaine Jones would be an understatement.”

The Independence Party supported Mr. Wilkinson in his unsuccessful bid to unseat former Supervisor Bill McGintee in 2007, representing 11 percent of the 3,212 votes received by Mr. Wilkinson.

The party backed Mr. Wilkinson again when he swept into office with a huge majority in 2009, although, by receiving 66 percent of overall votes that year, he would have won handily even without the third party’s support. In that election, 12 percent of his 4,713 votes came on the Independence Party line.

In an uncommon move this year, the Independence Party also decided to run two of its own candidates—Marilyn Behan and Bill Mott—for the other open Town Board seats. They will be up against Republicans Richard Haeg and Steven Gaines and Democrats Sylvia Overby and Peter Van Scoyoc. They will be running for seats that will be vacated by Democrats Pete Hammerle and Julia Prince, who decided not to seek reelection.

For other town positions—Trustees, highway superintendent, assessors and justice—the Independence Party backed candidates from the two major parties.

The Independence Party, with 39,000 registered members, represents the third largest block of voters in Suffolk County, according to New York State Board of Elections records. Republicans have the most with 313,000 and Democrats have the second most with 306,000.

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Uh oh, someones in trouble. Do you think they will ever get it? There was no mandate! All we wanted was to get rid of the sitting board.
By phins (43), East Hampton on May 20, 11 5:51 PM
This only goes to show you that the Independence party is about what Elaine Jones is thinking at any given moment in time. You think Schneiderman -- the local Independence standard bearer -- is going to back Cohen? No way. Scchniderman will be running full speed away from Cohen.
By formertbm (76), east hampton on May 20, 11 7:31 PM
On the Independence Party line no one tells you how to vote. That is why there are Democrats, Republicans, and Blanks on the line. Jay Scneiderman should support whoever he wants. That's the idea of the Independence Party.
By housewife (79), east hampton on May 20, 11 7:54 PM
Why should the independence party endorse anyone. This so called party should be named the Elaine jones party
By razza5350 (1911), East Hampton on May 27, 11 12:00 AM
Considering he left the Republican party last year, I would EXPECT him to support the candidate of the party he registered to!
By phins (43), East Hampton on May 20, 11 8:12 PM
Not necessarily. If the Independence Party cross endorses a Democrat it doesn't mean that every member is going to vote for that candidate. Many Independents will go all over the board.
By housewife (79), east hampton on May 20, 11 9:12 PM
Exactly so why endorse?
By razza5350 (1911), East Hampton on May 27, 11 12:01 AM
Phins...Jay Schniederman will definitely endorse Wilkinson. Why would Schniederman endorse someone who has criticized his performance as Supervisor (Cohen) and not the guy (Wilkinson) that Schniederman endorsed in 2007 and 2009 and who has fixed the mess made by McGintee? Remember Schniederman left the town with a $10 million surplus, McGintee sqauandered it and Cohen sided with McGintee in blaming Schniederman and his administration. How could Schniederman possibly endorse Cohen? It ain't happening ...more
By connwatcher (112), east hampton on May 20, 11 9:18 PM
schneiderman is not stupid. He certainly is not going to endorse Cohen who will lose by about 65-35. I agree with Connwatcher. Cohen, if you look at past articles, is no friend of Jay Schneiderman. Hard to believe Schneiderman's local party endorsed someone who has attacked him. It is also hard to believe the Jones Independence party would endorse someone who has claimed to have worked in the McGintee administration. Actually, when you think about it, this decision should help the Republican ...more
By hohum123 (91), springs on May 20, 11 9:29 PM
Are you kidding me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Zach Cohen???????????????
I'm changing my registration.
By indyvoter (3), East Hampton on May 20, 11 10:18 PM
OK I logged off and logged back on. So this story is still here and not some kind of bad joke? This is for real. ZacK Cohen is being endorsed by my party? Wake me up, please.
By indyvoter (3), East Hampton on May 20, 11 10:29 PM
I like how hohum put it -- "the Jones Independence party" -- it's all about Elaine's personal problems and her personal, emotional, outbursts and attacks on anyone who points out her flawed arguments or disagrees with her opinions - what a shame. And a blow to the Independence party . . .
By Board Watcher (534), East Hampton on May 21, 11 12:17 AM
Sounds like the Republicans are on the attack. Elaine is only one vote. Go out and talk to the people and see what the community is talking about. Funny but Jay Schneiderman just received the endorsement of the Democrats and will be running on both lines with Zack Cohen. Doesn't mean he has to vote for him but that's what the Independence Party is about. People go all over the board now. It's no longer Republican or Democrat folks.
By housewife (79), east hampton on May 21, 11 9:17 AM
So, after two successive elections in which they backed Bill Wilkinson, the Independence Party is switching to Zachary Cohen to "rais[e] the morale of the employees", in part.

Recalling his infamous memo, it sounds like the Independents have had time to experience Bill Wilkinson's unique personality.
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on May 21, 11 9:31 AM
Open your eyes people. They are also losing the support of The Indie! The past few editorials have been scathing. 65-35%, what is hohum smoking?
By phins (43), East Hampton on May 21, 11 11:07 AM
As a Independent and a town employee I can tell high hat that if he is referring to the memo about employees working with respect for superiors and subordinates and taxpayers, then I would ask all the hard working, dedicated town employees for their opinions on the letter. That memo was no problem for them because if you are doing your job right then you agreed with everything in it. To the slackards and the go along to get along crew it was a strong message -- just what the town needed. I here ...more
By indyvoter (3), East Hampton on May 21, 11 11:24 AM
Indy Voter -- I have a couple of friends who work for the town (you probably know them) and they have told me they have had to bust their rear ends a little more since Wilkinson has been thereand he is demanding but being expected to work is part of having a job. I spoke to one this morning over this Indepedence deal and he said he was shocked because Elaine Jones wasn't complaining last year when her son-in-law was put in charge of the Grounds department -- which by the way he supposedly does ...more
By hohum123 (91), springs on May 21, 11 11:40 AM
Hey - I want to know who Jay Schneiderman is going to endorse. I want to know now. Someone should publically ask him today who he is endorsing. If he says no comment then he obviously disagrees with the Elaine Jones Party, if supports Cohen, then so be it, and if he endorses Wilkinson then the real story about the Elaine Jones Party will be told.

As the local highest ranking Independence Party official don't you think he would have been consulted? Or did Elaine Jones just do what she ...more
By formertbm (76), east hampton on May 21, 11 11:59 AM
Oh boy..Zach Cohen. Another brilliant move by Elaine Jones-- just kidding. Elaine Jones the biggest McGintee critic not supporting the person Will Wilkinson, who cleaned up the McGintee mess. She rather goes with someone whose was part of the McGintee years -- made chair of the Land Preserve Board under McGintee, never attacked McGintee in any meaningful way, claims to have worked with McGintee on financial stuff. Oh boy this is hard to believe.
By factsandtruth (42), East Hampton on May 21, 11 2:16 PM
God I cetainly have never seen the Democrats get so upset when the Independence Party endorse the Republicans. What I don't understand is why everyone is so upset, if Wilky is doing such a good job. The Independence Party is good for about maybe 800 votes. Not a big deal. Jay can vote for whoever he wants on any line. People go all over the board. Boy they must have hit somebody's nerve for getting so upset.
By housewife (79), east hampton on May 21, 11 3:52 PM
You miss the point. Jay Schneiderman has his sights set on running for Supervisor in East Hampton after Wilkinson's second term. Jay himself has stated just recently that Wilkinson can not be beaten -- with or without the Independence line - I believe Jay said Wilkinson would win with about 60% of the vote - just ask him. He is correct because Jay knows that the town is in better shape today that it has been since he was supervisor in 2003. That being said, the Democrats in East hampton would ...more
By factsandtruth (42), East Hampton on May 22, 11 11:30 AM
Wilky is doing a good job (Elaine) - the fact is you picked a candidate who isn't necessarily the best person for the TOWN for your own (personal) reasons. If the Independence party really IS a party - what is the platform? Because there truly can't be anything in it that this Board hasn't been trying to tackle and/or clean up. Also, if i remember correctly Mr. Cohen insisted that all the Town had to borrow was 15 million when he was 'analyzing" the budget with Janet Verneille. In fact, there ...more
By Board Watcher (534), East Hampton on May 22, 11 12:04 PM
So you must be an insider if you know all these facts about Jay's future. They said Jay was finished when he went over to the Indepenence Party. Actually all the nice things you said about Elaine Jones when she endorsed the Republicans is not true then.
By housewife (79), east hampton on May 22, 11 6:35 PM
HOORAY!! The people of my town town will soon be the winners. Fact
By facts man (148), east hampton on May 21, 11 5:01 PM
I see that the Republican Tag-Team members are all present. Let someone suggest that Wilkinson didn't cover his mouth when he sneezed and they're good for about a hundred lines of copy to the effect that Wilkinson doesn't sneeze.

Did you read the rumor that excited them? Town employees going home to nap for three hours on Town time! That's terrible! I certainly hope that Wilkinson awakens them.

Did you hear the rumor that Wilkinson is using Town money to buy himself a Gulfstream ...more
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on May 21, 11 8:12 PM
The only thing we should discuss is how tight High Hat wears his hat -- because it obviously cuts off the circulation to that little spongy tissue in his skull called his brain. So lets talk about High Hats brain power -- that will take about 2 lines of type.

Line One : Small

Line Two: Smallest
By factsandtruth (42), East Hampton on May 22, 11 11:15 AM
I'm in Southampton but own property in East Hampton. Why are you people in East Hampton, in this case the Indepenence party, so anxious to dump someone who finally has given us some tax relief and sanity in town finance and management? Because he yells at imcomptenet workers? Give me a break. I'll be glad to send a big box of Kleenex to all those whose feelings have been hurt. Grow up - for the sake of my check book.
By mrmako61 (148), southampton on May 22, 11 3:18 PM
Just was at a Republican event and the Republicans have put down to challenge to Schneiderman to make is endorsement between Wilkinson and Cohen by Memorial Day. Many Schniederman supporters at the event who want to know -- they also of course are big Wilky supporters, big crowd at the event. So the ball is in Schneiderman's court.
By connwatcher (112), east hampton on May 22, 11 4:12 PM
I think East Hampton is in real need of DESCENT people...too many with BIG egos and they do nothing for their community.......

Can they come with one name that is really worthy? You put the 3 parties together ...and they still have NOTHING!!!!!
By Bel (86), southampton on May 22, 11 6:40 PM
This was Bel about 18 months ago (direct quote from one of her posts)----

"I agree with Truthinbonac, Mr Wilkinson has been meeting with many local groups over the last 3 years, I have seen him in all kinds of meetings, Immigration and others.
Hope EH gets a great Supervisor that can clean the mess!!!!!!"

He still meets with those groups (citizens avisory committees, housing committees, fisherman, hunters, preservationists, farmers, etc.), works 24/7, has actually cleared ...more
By connwatcher (112), east hampton on May 22, 11 8:41 PM
to connwatcher:

An interesting post. Certainly, if Wilkinson habitually engages in such apparently compassionate behavior, it would argue against his being the psychopath that his memo indicates.

However, you are the only poster who has asserted that he behaves so. "Truthinbonac" whom you cite, does not appear in this thread. It would be nice if your report was confirmed by someone other than a zealous Republican partisan, (and someone, needless to say, OTHER THAN your fellow ...more
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on May 23, 11 10:42 AM
Another imbecilic comment by high hat - he vever disappoints!!!!
By hohum123 (91), springs on May 23, 11 10:08 PM
Half of what Wilkie and Quig do makes me roll my eyes but the other half is right on target and what this Town (and its work force) needs. The thought of handing the reins over to Zach and Overby...yikes! We (tax-paying-non-Town employees) would all be so screwed.
By zaz (197), East Hampton on May 23, 11 8:17 PM
ZAZ -- Everybody does something now and then that makes your eyes role -- like my wife. But she is my rock and steady hand. So I agree with you that Wilkie and Quig are right on target on most things (in my opinion) and exactly what this town needed on the heels of six years of the worst management any municipality has ever experienced - any where. Cohen and Overby would be McGintee all over again. Cohen doesn't get much and Overby has given much -- money that is to McGintee and the Conservators ...more
By hohum123 (91), springs on May 23, 11 10:14 PM
1 member liked this comment
While libeling Town employees as torpid, slouching beasts, the Republicans on this thread have constructed a picture of Wilkinson as savior that is nearly blasphemous.

The trouble is that there is no foundation for any of their assertions. They are rumor and anecdote AND they are posted by one Republican and then supported by the other Republicans so that the original naked comment takes on substance by reassertion.

Civil servants are an easy target for criticism because they are ...more
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on May 24, 11 10:27 AM
I think during campaign season all the posters should have to use their real names. They are the same people over and over again and apparently Republican. No one seems to have a right to their own opinion. I think it's amazing that the Republicans accuse the Democrats of being nasty and yet it seems that they are 10 times worse. Nasty nasty should be the slogan for 2011 campaign.
By housewife (79), east hampton on May 24, 11 10:54 AM
housewife -- are you serious? Have you watched any Town Board meetings on TV. The Dems get up and accuse the Reps of everything -- and always VERY NASTY. Over and over and over -- whine,whine --- accuse, accuse ---that is all the Dems do. Have public hearings...don't have public hearings on things we don't support.... that is what they say. They bring in posters with $20 bills pasted on them mocking the nice tax cut Wilkinson gave us. Just watch and listen. The Dems are brutal at those meetings, ...more
By hohum123 (91), springs on May 24, 11 7:49 PM
I watched a tape of a Board Meeting (before this nomination) where Elaine Jones (who was against the concert and was a plaiintiff in a law suit against the Town regarding that matter) called Wilkinson a liar (because in 2009 when running against Zwirn he said he would try to reduce the deficit "without layoffs" - long before the true extent of the deficit became known), asked if "this is how it's done in Disney" in response to a (friend of hers?) Town employee getting bumped (pursuant to union ...more
By Board Watcher (534), East Hampton on May 25, 11 4:18 PM
to Board Watcher:

Whoa! That Elaine Jones sounds like a real piece of work.

My advice? Don't vote for Wilkinson OR for Elaine Jones (or for that unionized Town worker who bumped his daughter from a job, [or for anyone who is MEAN - - - Oops! We're back to Wilkinson.])

One thing everyone agrees on about Zachary Cohen, regardless of their political views, is that he's a NICE GUY.
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on May 25, 11 6:41 PM
Board Watcher,

I hope the lay-off of those two people makes a great difference in your tax bill!
By phins (43), East Hampton on May 25, 11 7:37 PM
By the way, did you see the Patch. Jay is not committing to your guy yet. He needs to think about it for awhile!
By phins (43), East Hampton on May 25, 11 7:44 PM
HHS and Phins - how people treat each other at Town Board meetings is out there for all to see . . . 24/7, at www.townclerk.com. So people's actions speak louder than any words that are printed on blogs or in a newspaper. The whole Town is lucky we don't need your crazy "advice" or political "psychoanalysis"! You guys crack me up!
By Board Watcher (534), East Hampton on May 25, 11 11:03 PM
to Board Watcher:

Keep your eye on the ball. Where the characters of candidates for Town office are concerned, the behavior of other-than-candidates at Town Board meetings is irrelevant.

Are you claiming that other-than-Republicans are nastier than Republicans? It's an interesting question. We could resolve it, as far as candidates are concerned, by requiring them to undergo a psychological evaluation for psychopathy as a condition of nomination. Most psychopaths would simply ...more
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on May 26, 11 9:12 AM
Who cares who Schniederman endorses. An endorsement from an individule is the kiss of death to some candidates because many people will think the endorser is a fool. But a party endorsement carries weight because a number of people believe in the same thing, otherwise there wouldn't a party. The Reps. in EH are s------g their pants because they know what a loss they got from the Independence Party, not Elaine Jones. Good for you Independence Party you've started the town going in the right direction. ...more
By facts man (148), east hampton on May 26, 11 3:49 PM
uhhhmmmm - Elaine Jones and her committee of 7 ARE the "Independence Party" in East hampton - but I am positive she does not speak for all - just see above! The committee never 'called back" either candidate but, according to this report she took her "little poll" and called Zach several times to ask him "more questions". While I am sure the Dems are salivating at the opportunity to throw more rocks at Elaine's "enemies-de-jour" . . . I would call on her to put forth HER parties platform and ...more
By Board Watcher (534), East Hampton on May 27, 11 12:22 AM
Elaine Jones and the committee of 7 represent the Independence Party as do the committees of the Rep and Dem party. In other words the committees speak for the larger numbers they represent. Individuals may speak for themselves (as the Reps hope Schniederman will do) but a committee decision is the will of the party membership until that committee is changed. This is a big blow to Wilk because the Ind. Party is greater then Jones or the committee of 7. Fact
By facts man (148), east hampton on May 27, 11 8:25 AM
Honestly, I don't know who Schneiderman is going to endorse any more than anyone else does. I suspect that in the end that he will plump for Wilkinson but there is a strong lesser possibility that he will choose Cohen.

That being said, it's hard to believe that his endorsement will sway any voters. This guy appears to have his wetted political finger in the wind at all times. The way that he changes parties and the objects of his endorsements suggest that his only ideology is opportunism. ...more
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on May 27, 11 10:37 AM