A split occurred between members of the East Hampton Town Board the other night, and sometimes that’s a good thing.
In fact, municipal and school board members all over should take heed.
The issue that divided the five board members is whether or not to allow Deepwater Wind to land a cable from its proposed offshore wind turbines on Beach Lane in Wainscott. Putting the merits of that project aside for the moment, the board members get kudos all around.
The debate was staged in the public eye, and the proponents and dissenters laid out their positions clearly and concisely. There was honest disagreement, not unusual for example, on the Supreme Court. In the end a consensus was reached.
There is a school of thought that boards should show a united front for legal purposes; that’s usually to keep dissension from the public eye.
In East Hampton, Democrats have controlled the board since the Bill Wilkinson era, and there have been times, in our opinion, when party politics prevailed, and some residents were left wondering if they really mattered anymore.
The Democrats took an important step forward in January by appointing David Lys, a registered Republican, to the board, adding an independent voice who hasn’t kowtowed to party leaders. The Democrats also chose Jeff Bragman as their candidate for an open seat, and after surviving a primary and winning election, he has been a stalwart practitioner of open government. His expertise as a local planning and zoning attorney gives him the tools to add real insight to many matters before the town board.
East Hampton Town Board members: you’ve all done a good job on this issue. Keep learning, stay open-minded, listen to your constituents, and do what’s best for the townspeople, who, like all of you, love and treasure this town.
We understand politics is a way of life in this town, in this county, and in the country. But some things are bigger than contributors, bigger than party bosses, and yes, sometimes even bigger than getting reelected. When you put party over principle and compromise your convictions to get your name on the ballot, you don’t really win anything.
It’s never a cliché to say it: do the right thing, and play the game the right way.