Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman, I-Montauk, announced on Monday that he will not be running for the East Hampton Town Supervisor position, despite being nominated by the East Hampton Republicans last month.
Instead, Schneiderman said he has decided to run to keep his seat on the Suffolk County Legislature. It will be his sixth and final term due to term limits, and he said he has not ruled out the possibility of a run for supervisor — a post he held before being elected to the legislature — down the road.
“I am grateful for the overwhelming support and encouragement I have received as I have weighed how best to serve our community. After great thought and deliberation, I have chosen to seek reelection to the Suffolk County Legislature," Schneiderman said.
“East Hampton is a special place, and the idea of bringing our town together as Supervisor is very appealing to me. However, there is still more work I feel I need to do in the Legislature," he said.
The East Hampton Republican Committee announced last month that they were supporting Schneiderman for town supervisor for the 2013 race, despite the fact that the Republican two-term incumbent, Bill Wilkinson, hadn't yet told the committee if he wanted to keep his seat for a third term.
On Feb. 13, the committee took a formal vote to nominate Schneiderman, a member of the Independence party who lives in Montauk, Kurt Kappel, the committee chairman, said at the time. The announcement was still unofficial he said, as the committee was waiting to form a full slate first.
Kappel said Schneiderman informed him of his decision over the weekend. "I'm a little disappointed, yes," he said on Monday. "He had to do what he thought is best. He does have a lot of things unfinished on the county level," Kappel said of Schneiderman.
"We're going to have to re-open up the screening process and re-screen for supervisor," he said, adding that he has reached out to a few people who may be interested. The Republicans don't have a date set yet, but anyone who interested in screening may contact him directly or any member of the committee.
"We have time to find somebody," he said. "It's one of the reasons why I like to start things so early — it gives us time to re-screen if something happens," he said.
Wilkinson had asked that the committee wait for him to decide whether he wanted to run until March or April, but Kappel had declined to do so. Since the Republicans announced their decision to support Schneiderman last month, Wilkinson said he wasn't going to run a primary against him.
Asked if he thought Wilkinson would reconsider running on the Republican ticket, Kappel said he didn't think he would. "He had a good run. Four years as supervisor is a long time."
A quorum of the 38-member committee was present for the February vote. Carole Campolo, the committee secretary, said that she and another member were the only ones not to vote for Schneiderman.
But, Schneiderman said he wasn't ready to accept the committee's endorsement. He told East Hampton Patch last month that he wanted to wait at least until he had a chance to screen with the East Hampton Democratic Committee, which he did on March 10.
The decision to run for supervisor or not is a major career decision, he said at the time.
He said when he initially expressed interest in running he thought a cross endorsement was more more likely before Larry Cantwell, the East Hampton Village Administrator, expressed interest in running for supervisor on the Democratic ticket.
He said he wanted to gather poll data to gauge community support. "I want to be the community's candidate for supervisor," he said.
The Democratic screening committee said they won't make any decisions until May.
“Suffolk County is at a critical crossroads and I believe I can make a real difference to ensure we make the right choices to move our County forward. I do not want to walk away from Suffolk County at a time when we are facing a deficit of up to $250 million and the future of many critical programs are unsettled," Schneiderman said. “County Executive Bellone has asked me to work closely with him to focus on budget mitigation that puts Suffolk County on a more sustainable path while protecting critical services.”
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