After collecting well over twice the signatures needed, Southampton Village mayoral candidate Jesse Warren will be on the ballot this June.
“I feel there is a lot to be done in Southampton,” Warren said. “Change is needed. A new vision for the next decade.”
The 36-year-old, who would be the youngest mayor if elected, wants to clean up Lake Agawam, increase downtown vibrancy, and restore historical integrity to the village.
“We’ve had a record number of vacancies,” said Warren, a 10-year business owner on Main Street. In 2010, he opened Tenet next to Juice Press and The Golden Pear. Since then, he has opened a second location in East Hampton Village and a concept store in Southampton.
Prior to opening his two stores in the village, Warren worked in both investment banking and private equity, focusing on consumer products companies. He graduated cum laude from Brown University with a degree in economics, and attended Mansfield College at Oxford University, where he studied economics and management.
The mayoral candidate is also a member of the Southampton History Museum’s board of trustees, where he heads the development committee and works on the Halsey Gala committee. He is also a member of the Southampton Chamber of Commerce.
“The village has begun to lose some of its historical integrity and the historical fabric we once had,” he said. “I’d like to address that.”
But Warren said he sees the blue-green algae in Lake Agawam as his top priority.
“In my opinion something needs to be done, and something needs to be done quickly,” he said, adding that the lake is one of the most polluted bodies of water in New York. “I just feel there isn’t enough action being taken. It’s a big undertaking. There’s a lot that needs to be done. We need to raise money from state and Community Preservation Fund, think creatively to solve problems, and do the work.”
Incumbent Michael Irving said as mayor he’s put a lot of pieces together to do just that. The village recently completed a four-phase project to help clean up Lake Agawam. He said he has also addressed quality-of-life issues with zoning changes and new limits on when landscapers can use power equipment in the village. He’s hoping to install a new sewer system in the village, a project he’s been involved in since 2014. Irving was previously a member of the village planning board and served as trustee before being elected mayor.
“I’ve put a lot of stuff in place, come up with a lot of ideas, and two more years is really needed to complete it,” Irving said. “Serving as the mayor is truly an honor and an amazing position.”
Warren said he feels there is a culture and a mindset that things are supposed to move slowly in government. He wants to work to change that.
“I’d like to be as aggressive as possible to make some of these things happen,” Warren said. “I’m willing to do whatever it takes to solve our problems.”
The 36-year-old added that working in his line of business has aided in his ability to listen to others and communicate effectively, accomplishing goals with few resources. Being on the outer edge of the millennial demographic, he’s hoping to utilize technology and social media to make government more efficient, adding he’d like to see more online applications to do so.
Warren will take part in the second contested mayoral race in a decade, the first being in 2017, when Irving ran against Richard Yastrzemski when Mark Epley, who served 12 years, chose to step down. Warren received the third-most votes as a write-in candidate for trustee that year, garnering 151 votes.
William Hattrick, who has spent almost two decades in local politics as trustee and mayor, and Nancy McGann, who served seven consecutive terms, are choosing not to run in June. A two-year Village Planning Commission member, 29-year-old Joseph McLaughlin; co-owner of Sip N’ Soda Mark Parash, 48; and Andrew Pilaro, 49, are running for the two open seats.
While Warren said he’s gaining momentum with the more people he meets, he said if there’s one thing his campaign does, he hopes it’s to inspire younger generations to get involved.
“I’d like to get the young people out to vote, especially for the village elections,” Warren said. “I want to mobilize that group. I would love nothing more than to see people of my generation running for office, participating on boards, attending meetings, and playing a role.”
The village election vote is June 21 at the Southampton Cultural Center on Pond Lane.