When former Police Chief Jerry Larsen announced earlier this year that he planned to run for East Hampton Village mayor in the 2020 election, he promised he would not go it alone.
This week, Larsen announced Sandra Melendez, an attorney and tax preparer with a practice on Park Place in the village, would be joining him on his newly formed NewTown Party line as a candidate for village board.
He added that he would cross-endorse former East Hampton Fire Chief Ray Harden who is running on the Elm Party along with Trustee Barbara Borsack, who is seeking to replace retiring Mayor Paul Rickenbach, and incumbent Trustee Richard Lawler.
Larsen said he met Melendez when he was chief of police and she was the attorney in several criminal cases. “She was very professional and intelligent,” he said, “and we worked very well together.”
He said Melendez was one of the first people to come to mind when he began searching for running mates. “We met and I went over the things that were important to me, and she seemed to be on the same page,” he said.
Melendez, 43, a native of Puerto Rico who moved to East Hampton in 2007, said she relished the opportunity. “I think I’m good at helping to resolve conflicts and maybe get something done in this village,” she said, noting that better parking options and the need for a proper sewage treatment system were just two of the things that would go toward restoring vibrancy to the village business district.
“I would work to update the village, making it more family-friendly,” she said.
Melendez was educated in Puerto Rico, where she obtained both a business degree with a concentration in accounting and a law degree. She worked for the Internal Revenue Service and obtained a master’s degree in tax law from Georgetown University before opening her own practice at 84 Park Place in 2014.
Besides preparing tax returns and offering tax advice, Melendez offers a wide range of legal services, including criminal and immigration law. As a native Spanish speaker, she caters to the East End’s growing Latino population.
She is married to Angel “Eddie” Rosario, and the couple has four children: Joshua, 22, who is studying at the Culinary Institute of America; Hannah, 20, who is studying international relations at the University of San Francisco; Matthew, 15, who attends East Hampton High School; and Lauren, 10, a fifth grader at the John Marshall Elementary School.
A newcomer to politics, she would become the first Latina to serve on the village board.
With Harden now in the race, albeit on a different slate, Larsen said he did not see the need to solicit a third candidate for the NewTown Party line.
“He is exactly the kind of person I’d want on the village board,” Larsen said of Harden. “If Ray, Sandra, and I were to get elected, we could make some positive changes for this village.”
Besides regenerating the business district, improving beaches, burying power lines, and updating the village code and its comprehensive plan, Larsen said he believed there should be term limits of 12 years for village offices.
“I feel very strongly about term limits,” he said. “I think people get stale and they have nothing left to offer.”
Larsen and Melendez will kick off their campaign with a reception at The Maidstone on Main Street in the village from 6 to 8 PM on Friday, June 21.