In our last edition of 2015, the first of its kind in Reporter history to look back on major events and issues of a year, the most striking occurrences were the decisions to retire by two public officials — Peter Reich and Ed Brown.
Both farewells were unexpected, in part because of the energy and focus both men brought to their work on the Town Board; they hadn’t slowed down and they hadn’t become disengaged.
In a letter to his constituents published in the Reporter, Mr. Reich cited his health — he had received a life-threatening scare, but has since made a complete recovery — and the belief in term limits. He also wanted to devote more time to his business, he said, and to people close to him.
Term limits, we believe, are already in place for every elected position, put there by voters prolonging or terminating careers. There’s no doubt that Mr. Reich would have been handily re-elected if he had sought another term, so strong is his popularity with Island voters.
Mr. Reich always worked hard — maybe harder — than any of his colleagues. He was prepared and always part of the discussion, proving himself invaluable on many topics other board members were in the dark about, especially the management of our waterways and coastline and all things technological. Mr. Reich was the expert whenever those issues came up and was unfailing in making his points clear and taking positions.
In addition, Mr. Reich, along with Mr. Brown, were public servants of the old school; civility and respect marked their exchanges with colleagues, petitioners before the board and residents in the audience.
It was a sad day when Ed Brown announced his decision in August to resign his post as town councilman effective December 31 for, as he said, personal reasons.
Mr. Brown, who served on the board for almost 15 years, was known as a fiscal hawk. He didn’t speak in theories, but in numbers and what it would mean to the taxpayer’s wallet.
In addition, Mr. Brown spoke often about making decisions carefully, knowing that setting precedents today might handcuff future Town Boards. He was a solid legislator who left histrionics to others, but was never afraid to weigh in passionately on important issues — especially coming up with clear-eyed and practical solutions to the looming crisis of pollution in the Island’s ground and surface waters. Through it all, he demonstrated a calm and measured political and personal temperament.
Both Mr. Brown and Mr. Reich have been forthright and dedicated public servants. The Island has relied on them and they’ve come through for their fellow citizens.
They will be missed at Town Hall.