It took a little time, but the Southampton Town Republicans now have a candidate for supervisor: Greg Robins, 69, a retired teacher and long-time North Sea fire commissioner.
But the party’s lineup for the November election continued to go through changes two weeks after the nominating convention, when James Ding of North Sea said he was no longer a candidate for town board. He was replaced by retired Southampton Town police detective Charles McArdle.
Robins said he sees Southampton Town’s yearly reassessments as a backdoor method to raise taxes, and it’s a driving force behind his decision to challenge incumbent Supervisor Jay Schneiderman this year.
Robins was picked as the GOP candidate after current Councilwoman Christine Preston Scalera, who is reaching her two-term limit, declined to run for the position.
Republican Committee Chairman David Betts said he thought Robins would be a good candidate after a discussion about his concerns last July. Robins, and now McArdle, will join Rick Martel on the Republican ticket.
“The little cottages that were there for the last 40 to 50 years have been ripped down and replaced with very big houses, and as a result, not only where I live, but throughout Southampton Town, assessments are being raised based on these new houses,” Robins said. “And nothing has changed with these smaller houses, except that they have to suffer the consequences from these very expensive multi-million-dollar houses. I thought that was unfair, and in some cases, I’m sure people are even being taxed right out of their houses.”
The father of two and former social studies teacher in the William Floyd School District for 38 years said it bothered him Schneiderman continues to state that tax rates are going down or staying the same — which is the case — but that he neglects to mention the fact that the town continues to raise more money because of the continual reassessments.
Robins has volunteered as a fireman for 25 years and served for 20 years as a North Sea fire commissioner. He said he has worked to balance the needs of the fire department with those of the taxpayers, something he thinks will benefit him in his new role if elected.
Before announcing he was no longer a candidate, Ding, in an interview last week, said he was concerned about wasteful spending. “Our supervisor has increased the town’s budget by 13.3 percent. Where does this stop?” he said. ‘’In the first three years that he’s been in office, that’s over double the rate of inflation.”
Ding gave no reason for why he would not be on the ballot. McArdle, at town police detective who owns a private firm, CM Security Consulting, Inc., and lives in Hampton Bays, emerged to replace him. McArdle could not be reached for comment by press time, but his LinkedIn account shows he was an NYPD officer from 1984 to 1988, and a detective with the town department from 1990 to 2005. His consulting company was formed in 2004, and he has also been president of Peoplepool Valet Service in Hampton Bays since the same year.
Bigger And Better Things
Martel, 59, a 45-year resident of Hampton Bays who is a father of two and married to his high school sweetheart, said he’s adopted the community-above-self motto, reflected in his charity work since he was 18. The co-owner of Skidmore’s Sports & Styles since 1980 is a 39-year member of the Southampton Town Kiwanis Club, six-year president of the San Gennaro Feast of the Hamptons, and runs the little league and youth basketball programs in Hampton Bays.
“I’ve wanted to do bigger and better things,” said Martel, who works specifically on donations to food pantries in Southampton and Hampton Bays and is part of the Kiwanis Club’s scholarship committee.
“I’ve always been out there helping everybody. If you talk to anybody on the street that knows me, you’d know I’m one of the first people you come to whenever there’s an issue with anything — especially if it’s helping a kid or a family out. I’d like to take that attitude and bring it to Town Hall, see if we can quiet things down and just do some good,” Martel added.
While he said he does not have an axe to grind, if he had a to-do list, his main objective would be tackling the cost of living. Martel said he’s concerned for those young and old living in the town, adding he’s seen family and friends forced to leave.
“I enjoy the quality of life here, but if there’s anything I could do to help in that regard I would,” Martel said. “We’re losing a lot of very qualified kids that could be working in or around our town, and we’re losing them because the cost of living here is so high. I know the issues, I know the fire departments, I know the schools, obviously I know the kids. The opportunity is here for me to run now that my children are grown and my business is set. I. just want to try and help my town.”
Robins, who added he’s concerned with illegal housing and traffic, said he would like to revive a tradition started years ago through past supervisors like Bob Hulse, Robert Cameron, and Tom Halsey, who he said put the people first. The North Sea resident said he believes these men stood for the Founding Fathers’ belief of serving town and country, but not making a career out of it. He said he had no game plan for taking his political career any further than supervisor.
“Jay Schneiderman is a nice man, but he’s clearly interested in his own career,” Robins said. “I’m an average guy who has spent his life in Southampton, loves Southampton, and am willing to serve if elected. There’s a movement for villages, and it would seem to me that if you’re meeting the needs of the people, they wouldn’t be threatening to form more villages. I think a new approach and through a view of a different lens — of someone who is not a career politician — you might be able to accomplish more, because you’re not playing political games, you’re just trying to do what’s best for the people.”