November 01, 2006

The Independent Endorses . . .

Ken LaValle vs. Michael Comando, State Senate

Ken LaValle is a household name hereabouts, and in politics that is not necessarily a good thing. Nor is being an incumbent in the New York State Legislature, where nothing gets done without the approval of Joseph Bruno and Sheldon Silver and everyone else is subservient. Just once we'd like to hear LaValle lash out at the system and stand up to the party bosses.

We also recall — with not-so-fond memories — LaValle's role in the East Hampton Village library fiasco, in which he supported legislation that would have pulled the rug under the village's ability to regulate the library expansion. Despite his repeated pleas to the contrary, there is little doubt in our minds he was doing a favor for Thomas Twomey, the library board president who just so happens to be a principal in a law firm LaValle is affiliated with.

Having acknowledged LaValle is a politician, with all the warts that accompany the title, he has a heady list of accomplishments, and his involvement in the move to bring SUNY to the Southampton College campus is reason enough to stick with him.

That said, we'd like to see a challenger emerge someday who will give him a serious run — he's a little too condescending and glib for our liking.

Fred W. Thiele vs. Treewolf West, State Assembly

Fred Thiele, born and raised in Sag Harbor, has delivered again and again for his constituents, and his list of accomplishments is so long it is almost impossible NOT to endorse our favorite Republicrat.

Yes, he was a bit too defensive when quizzed about the East Hampton Library fiasco, and yes, his opponent, Treewolf West, is bright and has some interesting ideas. We have a feeling he would make an excellent public servant and local Democrats need to find a winnable spot for him. Thiele is still at the top of his game, however, and thus a valuable ally to have in Albany.

Tim Bishop vs. Italo Zanzi, U.S. Congress

Bishop is truly the hardest working man in politics, and he doesn't show up just for photo ops — he delivers the goods. Whether it's securing funding for a ROTC program in Mattituck or securing long overdue recognition for some forgotten veteran, he's been working diligently, as promised, for the people of the East End. He is thoughtful and intelligent, and though some criticize him for being an early supporter of the war in Iraq, his level-headed manner of thinking issues through has probably made him a lot of friends in Washington. That in turn, allows him to be more effective here.

Singing a predominantly one note song, the challenger — who just rented an apartment in the district shortly before the race — keyed into community concern about immigration. It was a good idea from an attention grabbing standpoint, but his plan for solving the complex problem boiled down to "ship 'em all out." Racists in the district may love the idea but anyone with a shred of common sense should wonder exactly how that might be accomplished.

There are a lot of perplexing riddles to solve in D.C., and we're comfortable with Bishop's capabilities.

Marc Alessi vs. Dan Panico, State Assembly

During his tenure as New York State Assemblyman representing the First Assembly District on the North Fork, Marc Alessi has proven himself worthy of the post. His tenacity in the fight to hold LIPA accountable for rate hikes was more PR hype than anything else, but the fight over what he considers an unfair funding formula for New York schools resonated with voters. Alessi has also championed breast cancer research — his wife, Gretchen, is a survivor. We'd like to see him continue his crusade.

Propositions: Vote No, Yes, and Yes

Of the three propositions on the ballot next Tuesday, one is a complete no-brainer, while the other two require some thought.

Propositions One and Two, carefully considered, appear contradictory. If both were approved, the first would give county officials more budgetary leeway, while the second would provide more restriction. Seems a little philosophically schizophrenic, doesn't it?

We say NO to Proposition One. We say YES to Proposition Two. If approved, it would restrict the way elected officials can add to the county capital budget.

Proposition Three proposes extending the two percent real estate transfer tax, due to expire 2020, out to 2030. Proceeds from the tax go into the Community Preservation Fund and are used to preserve open space. The extension would allow municipalities to borrow against future revenues to buy land now before it's grabbed up by developers. It's a no brainer, but politicians need to realize it is nothing more than yet another tax on property owners already reeling from school budget increases and expansions. Too often our local municipalities spend the money flippantly, purchasing property owned by political cronies and insiders. There should be stringent safeguards put in place to insure it doesn't continue to happen.

Vivian Viloria-Fisher vs. Judy Pascale, Suffolk County Clerk

Governor George Pataki chose Judy Pascale to serve as interim county clerk when Ed Romaine went on to begin his stint on the Suffolk County Legislature. Pascale beat out other, more politically connected, contenders, and for good reason. Vivian Viloria-Fisher, the Democratic contender, has enjoyed a career in politics. She's forwarded worthy initiatives as county legislator serving the district surrounding East Setauket, and was this year named Deputy Presiding Officer of the legislature. We like her there and think she should stay.

Sundy Schermeyer vs. Marla Schwenk, Southampton Town Clerk

For Southampton Town Clerk, Sundy Schermeyer isn't an incumbent, but her experience will serve town constituents well. We first saw her as a mom lobbying the town board to build a skate park. Relentless and energetic, Schermeyer got the project done, and moved into the public sector working for the town parks and recreation department. Consistently making top scores on all the civil service tests she's ascended to assistant superintendent. We like her work ethic and organizational skills, two major attributes a town clerk needs.

Marla Schwenk, the Democratic contender can't boast the same type of experience, but there's something even a little more troubling. She says she supports lower property taxes. Who doesn't? A town clerk is in no more position to actually do anything about it than the average taxpayer. The position is administrative, not policy making. The spin twirled Schwenk out of our good graces. We say go with Schermeyer.

Jeanine Pirro vs. Andrew Cuomo, Attorney General

Jeanine Pirro is the kind of aggressive presence this office needs. Any woman who would investigate her own husband so vigorously will surely fight to root out white collar crime. Her opponent, Andrew Cuomo, is a member of the lucky sperm club, but without his father's vision and intellect. He needs to find a real job.

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