New 7-2 Dem Trustees Convene

While new East Hampton Town Trustees, including, at right, John Aldred and Susan Vorpahl, sat down for their first meeting, the board’s attorney, Richard Whalen, in the background, announced he would step down. Durell Godfrey

The East Hampton Town Trustees held their first meeting of 2018 on Monday night, two months after an election increased the Democratic Party’s majority from a 6-to-3 to a 7-to-2 advantage. 

Four new members sit on the nine-member governing body, established by the Dongan Patent of 1686 and granting the trustees jurisdiction over the town’s common lands on behalf of the public. Dell Cullum, Susan McGraw Keber, and John Aldred are the board’s new Democrats. Susan Vorpahl, whose late father, Stuart Vorpahl, was a longtime trustee and bayman, was the lone Republican elected to the trustee board last year. 

Monday’s organizational meeting saw the trustees voting to re-elect Francis Bock as their clerk, or presiding officer. Likewise, Rick Drew and Bill Taylor were re-elected as the board’s deputy clerks. 

Rick Whalen, who has served as the trustees’ attorney for the last two years, has decided to step down, Mr. Bock announced. A committee comprising members of the previous board researched potential candidates to replace Mr. Whalen, Mr. Drew said. Three candidates — Chris Carillo, Carl Irace, and Andrew Strong — were interviewed. 

“After getting a lot of feedback from different members of the community, different organizations that work with different attorneys, we came to the recommendation that the best candidate would be Chris Carillo,” Mr. Drew said. 

Some members of the board asked that the full board be allowed to review each of the candidates before voting on the committee’s recommendation. “Although I am sure Chris is a fine gentleman and probably well suited for the position,” Mr. Cullum said, it was “difficult for me to put my vote on something I heard about four or five hours ago in an email. . . . I would feel much better putting my vote behind something I have more knowledge in.”

Mr. Whalen agreed to remain until the trustees select his successor, which it was decided would happen at their next meeting, scheduled for Jan. 22.

Diane McNally, a longtime trustee who did not win re-election in November, attended the meeting with Ms. Vorpahl’s mother and son. She addressed the board several times with suggestions as to how it might modify language in some of the 2018 resolutions they were to vote on. Ms. McNally, who was the board’s longtime clerk, asked that the wording of one, authorizing the clerk “to arrange for the historical opening and closing of Georgica Pond,” be expanded. 

“I would just . . . ask you at this point to be a little more specific as to what you are referring to as ‘historical’ opening of the pond,” she said. “I would spell out your April and October dates,” when the pond is traditionally opened to the Atlantic Ocean, “that it’s for the fish migration, because that pond is a natural nursery, based on past history.” 

Given the trustees’ sometimes contentious relationship with the State Department of Environmental Conservation with respect to permitting for projects like dredging, she said, it was important to safeguard the board against challenges to its jurisdiction. 

Mr. Whalen agreed. “For a relatively important resolution,” he said, “this a very bare-bones resolution.” Adding clauses and historical context “would probably be a good idea,” he said, and pledged to work with the board on modified language.