August 02, 2006

Jaaaaaay–Oh!!! Running For Supe In '07?

Next summer will voters in East Hampton have to endure those heinous calypso radio spots? The ones that begin "Jaaaaaaay–Oh"?

This week South Fork Legislator Jay Schneiderman responded to the rumor that he's mulling over an '07 run for town supervisor with a definitive maybe.

"I get people all the time coming up to me with 'We wish you were back'," the lawmaker, who is just beginning the eighth month of his second term on the county legislature, allowed. "The town could definitely use some help, but I'm enjoying what I'm doing right now," he continued.

Schneiderman served in the town's top spot from 2000 until 2004 when he began his first term on the leg. This week he pointed out that being supervisor is "very hard on the family." It can be a round-the-clock job, which is difficult for the father with young children.

Still, Schneiderman admitted that he finds the upIsland bureaucracy of county-level government frustrating. He said he misses "the local stuff" and the ability to be the person directly in charge of solving problems.

Looking at the local governmental landscape, he said, "I see things I'd do differently."

For all intents and purposes, there's a one-party rule in East Hampton currently. Councilwoman Pat Mansir, the lone Republican on the town board, switched parties and ran on the Democratic ticket last year. "When everyone is on the same team," Schneiderman mused, "There's no checks and balances."

"You need an opposition," he continued, "Somebody who challenges the powers that be, and forces them to think about how they spend taxpayer dollars. That's not happening in East Hampton right now."

In 1999 Schneiderman won a surprising victory over incumbent Democratic Supervisor Cathy Lester. He prevailed handily in the run for a second term in 2001, then bested another incumbent, Legislator George Guldi, a Democrat, in '03.

Political insiders speculate that Schneiderman may be the only Republican candidate with the popularity to beat incumbent Supervisor Bill McGintee next year. The supervisor, who lost his first bid to Schneiderman in '01, said he does want to run for a third term. "I think I've done a wonderful job," McGintee said.

Traditionally, East Hampton voters balk at giving a leader a third term at the helm of town government. Some say McGintee will step aside and give Pete Hammerle, the veteran councilman who did win a third term recently, his day in the sun. Others think Hammerle and McGintee may be poised to duke it out for the Democratic nomination. It's too soon to tell, McGintee offered. "The committee will make their decision as to who they want their candidate to be," he said.

As to the notion of running against a former nemesis, McGintee said blandly, "Well, I gotta run against somebody. Whatever the Republican Committee does, I'm not overly concerned about it."

For now, Schneiderman would say little more, after dispelling the rumor of a run. "This is a next year story, not a this year story," the legislator concluded.

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