Hap Bowditch Jr., who grew up on the Island, is the only candidate whose name will appear on the Dec. 14 ballot as he seeks to replace Larry Lechmanski as a Shelter Island Fire Commissioner. Mr. Lechmanski has opted not to seek re-election to a post he’s held for 20 years.
Perhaps best known on the Island today for working magic with steel, he began learning at age 12 to repair engines from his father, Hap Sr., finding a skill that would serve him throughout his life in both his work repairing engines and his art work. It was his early love of welding that attracted him, he told Reporter feature writer Charity Robey in 2017.
“Making an engine run, it’s like dancing with a piece of equipment,” he said. He has worked as a mechanic and ran a towing business for decades. But over time, he opted to make his artwork a full-time effort, calling himself “a starving artist.”
Islanders came to know him as not only an artist, but a problem solver, lending his talents to many projects that needed his creativity.
There have been no indications to date about any write-in candidates making an active run for the commissioner’s job. The final day for a candidate to get ballot placement was Nov. 24.
Voting takes place from 6 to 9 p.m. on Dec. 14 at the Center Firehouse, and because there is no other candidate on the ballot, it’s expected to be by paper ballot.
If Mr. Bowditch wins election, he would be taking on a five-year term.
Mr. Lechmanski had let it be known that he had spoken to a candidate he thought would be a good successor, but didn’t name that person at the time. Presumably, it was Mr. Bowditch that he had encouraged to run.