An organizational meeting was held after officials elected in November took their oaths of office, including Justice Steven Tekulsky, Town Clerk Carole Brennan, Highway Superintendent Stephen Lynch. When Cantwell took a seat at the dais with newly elected town council members Kathee Burke-Gonzalez and Fred Overton, he laid out some key initiatives for the now Democratic majority town board.
Some of the most simple, such as publishing agendas two days before town board meetings, drew a round of applause from the audience. Advance agendas and walk-on resolutions had long been a bone of contention during Bill Wilkinson's administration. Walk-on resolutions will no longer be permitted, unless time is of the essence, and only then if the board unanimously agrees, Cantwell said. "The public has a right to know the business of the town board," he said.
"We begin the new year with great hope and expectations," Cantwell said. "I know there will be disagreement from divergent points of view. But, if we work together to find common ground and maintain our small town values, if we respect each other and our differences, if we continue the stewardship of our extraordinary natural environment, if we demonstrate our compassion for the frail and the elderly and the less fortunate and those new to our community, and we support the working class, who are the backbone of our community, then this great, more than 350 year old town will survive and it will prosper."
Cantwell singled out the town employees. "I want you to know that we value your work," he said.But one past resident, not involved in town government, was at the forefront of Cantwell's mind. He dedicated his first town board meeting to Lee A. Hayes, a longtime East Hampton resident and former Tuskegee Airman who died last month.
"It saddens me how little we recognized and celebrated him during his lifetime," Cantwell said. "Over the many years that I knew Lee, he always went about his businesses contributing to the community. He educated us about the need to move our society forward," he said.
Cantwell, who ran unopposed on the Democratic and Independence party lines, chose fellow Democrat Peter Van Scoyoc, who was elected two years ago, as the Deputy Town Supervisor, a title he said he was honored to accept.
Van Scoyoc said he is looking forward to "a calm and focused" board. "Larry set the tone," he said.
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Among other changes Cantwell initiated, the town board's bi-monthly meetings at night will begin at 6:30 p.m., instead of 7 p.m. Cantwell said the board discussed it during planning meetings he held after the election, and they felt an early start time has worked well for other boards, such as the planning board and school boards.
The new supervisor also directed the parks department not to "waste time and money" making new signs with his name for the signs at town facilities, except for Town Hall. " I don’t see the benefit of seeing the supervisor’s name advertised on town facilities," he said.