October 30, 2013

For Southampton Town Board

There are four candidates vying for two seats on the Southampton Town Board, and each impressed The Independent editorial staff. In fact, this may be the most impressive group of candidate we've had in for interviews in some time.

Jeff Mansfield of Bridgehampton, a former finance professional who also has a Masters Degree in Business Administration and a Law Degree from Syracuse University, stressed his local roots. If truth be told, though, he has only lived full time out here for a few years. Most of his community service revolves around his personal life — at Bridgehampton School, where his kids attend, Mecox Bay, where he sails, and the Bridgehampton CAC, where he lives. Southampton is a big town, and each hamlet has its own nuances. Mansfield would benefit from more seasoning.

Frank Zappone, the current Deputy Supervisor, is a well-liked and respected figure in town hall. An ally of Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst, Zappone could keep his job if she wins her reelection bid. He knows the ins and outs of town, and his conciliatory demeanor allows him to work well with the assorted factions that do business with the town. Though he would doubtless do a good job on the town board, he is outflanked by the other candidates when it comes to hands on community service.

Stan Glinka, a Bridgehampton Bank executive and a Hampton Bays resident, has an amazing resume rich in community service. He strikes us as apolitical, is studious and open minded, and listens before he speaks. He will fit perfectly on the town board, working with the moderate holdovers Bridget Fleming and Christine Scalera to get things accomplished without being hindered by party politics. Glinka is the kind of candidate with overwhelming credentials; frankly, candidates like him seldom choose to serve the public. Best of all, he's born and raised here, a true local, and that counts for a lot with us.

Southampton is a town where a $50,000 contribution will fast track a permit for a wild party, and a few phone calls to well-placed friends will get you a permit to set off fireworks by a Piping Plover nest.

Brad Bender does his work in the underbelly of town, far removed from the privileged who turn their money into power. For years Bender has spoken for those who have never had a voice before, and his persistence and dedication have yielded remarkable results. Bender has had a hand in almost every project that has improved his Flanders/Riverside/Northampton neighborhood over the course of the past decade.

There are no pampered pure breeds feasting on Wagu beef in the Bender household – he has three rescue dogs, two of them deaf.

Bender doesn't have pricey universities on his educational resume, and he hasn't been CEO of any major corporations. But he offers far more -- his willingness to represent those who have never had a voice in town hall before, not just the deep-pocketed South of the Highwayers who use this place as a personal playground but give nothing back to the downtrodden. Bender, who narrowly missed getting elected two years ago, picked himself up and went back to work the next day. He has logged thousands of hours doing volunteer work for this community and his list of accomplishments is impressive.

As a gay man he'll bring representation to an important segment of our community that has too often gone without.

We hope he will be able to withstand the petty politics that sometime creep into the town's business. Should he find himself on the minority we trust he will make certain the board's business is conducted openly and for the good of all residents, not just a chosen few party insiders and fat cats.

The Independent endorses Stan Glinka and Brad Bender for the Southampton Town Board.

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