After years of service to the Town of East Hampton, Job Potter, the soon-to-be-former chairman of the planning board, is going skiing. Wednesday, December 19, will be Potter’s last meeting as chairman of the planning board. After that, he is off to Vermont. After recently turning 70, Potter is stepping away with two years left on his term. “I just felt that is enough now,” he said last week.
His involvement with East Hampton grew out of his experience with Stony Hill Farm, which his parents bought in 1949 from the de Cuevas family. Being a good steward of the land, and the preservation of farm and woodland, was a responsibility and an aspiration Potter grew up with.
In 1992, he made his first of two unsuccessful bids to be elected to the East Hampton Town Board of Trustees. In 1994, he accepted his first appointment by the East Hampton Town Board to the town’s planning board. Beginning in 1998, Potter served two four-year terms on the town board as a Democrat. He served alongside three different town supervisors: Cathy Lester, Jay Schneiderman, and Bill McGintee, the latter for two years.
“It all looked good,” he said about the state of East Hampton Town when he left the town board. McGintee remained as Supervisor. “None of us had any clue about the shenanigans,” Potter said about what would follow during the McGintee years.
McGintee was forced to resign in 2009, along with the town’s budget director, Ted Hults. Neither man profited from their mishandling of the town’s money, but they left the town in a sea of red ink.
Potter, however, after leaving office the first time, was off in a different direction. He began playing and recording music, while working in the real estate business, all while raising a family.
When the town was at its nadir during its financial crisis, Potter returned to public service, becoming involved with the budget advisory committee. In 2013, he ran for town board again, this time losing to Fred Overton. He was then appointed by Larry Cantwell to chair the business advisory committee, and took on the role of chair for the community housing opportunity fund advisory board, as well.
In 2014, he was appointed, for the second time in his life, to a seven-year term as a member of the town’s planning board, then succeeded Reed Jones as chair at the beginning of last year.
Potter said he looks forward to watching a younger generation take on the roles he has undertaken. For at least the next three months, he will be watching those changes from afar, skiing in Manchester, VT, where he secured a rental. His immediate goal? Becoming a ski instructor.
He looked back positively on playing a role in the creation of the community preservation fund while he served on the town board, as well as the movement towards creating affordable housing for East Hampton Town residents.
The most important trait one can have when serving on a governmental board, Potter believes, “is the ability to work with other members.” While one party may be currently holding the reins of power in East Hampton, “I do think that it is very valuable for there to be a difference of opinion” among board members.
Having lived through the McGintee years, Potter believes the key for town board members is to “do the job of running the finances. If that gets screwed up, everything comes apart.”
While he is leaving the planning board, and handing off the responsibility of chairing the two town advisory boards he heads, he would like to remain on those advisory boards in the future as a member. Potter won’t necessarily rule out the call to serve in the public sector in the future, saying that he “has left before and come back.” But right now, it is the call of the slopes that he is answering.
While he says he still has a lot to learn, Potter is looking forward to growing while he teaches. Potter said, “We have to take our victories where we can get them.”