After being elected chairwoman of the East Hampton Town Democratic Committee on June 20, Cate Rogers is mapping out an inclusive course for the local branch of the party. “I want to open our doors to everyone,” she said Monday. A long-time Springs resident, Rogers wants the working families of East Hampton to feel at home with the party.
Her election could have come back in January, after she resigned from the East Hampton Town Zoning Board of Appeals. “Nine-plus years was enough,” she said of her tenure at the ZBA. When she left the ZBA, she was aware that there were two vacancies which she might be appointed to: one on the East Hampton Town Board, after Peter Van Scoyoc’s seat opened up following his election last fall to town supervisor, the other as head of the party.
The town board ended up naming David Lys, also a ZBA member, to the vacant position. Rogers supported Lys’s appointment then, as well as his candidacy for the same position this fall.
After Lys’s appointment, Rogers was the apparent favorite to the party committee’s chairwoman’s post. However, another member of the board, Rona Klopman, sued the committee, alleging that the election system being used to determine the replacement for chairwoman Jeanne Frankl was unfair. That suit was dismissed in state court last month. Rogers won the June vote, defeating Klopman by 60 to 40 percent.
With that behind her, Rogers sees opportunity for the party to come together. She sees Lys, formerly a Republican, as an example of the kind of people the party needs to attract. “He is somebody with the values that you share,” she said. “It is more than simply checking a box.” She said Lys and his wife, a physical therapist with a practice in Montauk, and three children in the public school system, along with a toddler, are the kind of working family the party needs to grow.
She also believes in diversity. The party recently participated in a Cinco de Mayo event with Project MOST at the East Hampton Neighborhood House. The event raised $4000 for Project MOST, an organization dedicated to “inspiring a new generation after school,” according to its Facebook page. “It is an amazing program. A safe and supervised place for kids,” Rogers said. “Our community came together,” she said about the event.
She believes, she said, in “bringing people together in this age of diversity. We need to join with the Latino community.”
She also is a member of the Climate Reality Project. She recently attended a Climate Reality Project conference in Berlin, which she found applicable to East Hampton. “The training was intense,” she said. In Europe, she said, they are weaning themselves off of coal. “They have thousands of wind farms,” she said, both offshore and on. Europeans have embraced wind farm technology, she said, and have not seen the negative effects that some forecast in the states.
“We need to return to a sense of community,” she said, returning to local politics in relation to the national scene. She looks with sadness at the current immigration conflict, in which over 2000 children have been separated from their parents. “I can’t imagine having one of your kids ripped from your arms,” she said. “You have to stand up and be heard, and speak for those who must whisper. You’ve got to use your voice. You’ve got to use your vote.”