Supervisor Sean Walter and Councilwoman Jodi Giglio during the Riverhead Republican Committee convention in May, when Giglio edged out Walter for the committee designation for supervisor by half a vote. File photos: Denise Civiletti

The race is officially on.

Riverhead Republicans will indeed have a primary election to determine who will face off against Democrats in November balloting for town supervisor and town council.

Incumbent Republican Supervisor Sean Walter, who failed to secure the party committee’s support for his re-election in a closely contested and controversial vote at its May convention, filed nominating petitions to force a September primary election against the committee’s pick, Councilwoman Jodi Giglio.

From top: Jim Wooten, Bob Peeker, Tim Hubbard and Laura Jens-Smith. Photos: Denise Civiletti
From top: Jim Wooten, Bob Peeker, Tim Hubbard and Laura Jens-Smith. Photos: Denise Civiletti

Incumbent Councilman James Wooten, similarly denied the Republican committee’s support, also filed petitions to force a Republican primary vote for town council.

July 9 was the deadline for filing party nominating petitions with the Suffolk County Board of Elections. Candidates have until Aug. 18 to file independent nominating petitions for lines other than recognized political parties.

The Republican committee’s entire slate, except Giglio, got the Conservative endorsement, Riverhead Republican Committee chairman Mason Haas said Friday. Walter, a previous chairman of the Riverhead Conservative Committee, got his former party’s endorsement. Giglio was the Independence Party pick for supervisor, he said.

That sets up the possibility of a three-way race for supervisor in November, no matter who wins the Republican nomination in the September primary election.

A three-way supervisor’s race could benefit the Democratic candidate, Anthony Coates, by splitting his opposition. Coates is not facing a fight for the Democratic nomination.

In fact, the entire slate picked by the Democratic committee has gone unchallenged, allowing the Democrats to sit back and watch their Republican counterparts fight for their party’s nomination.

Democratic council candidate Laura Jens-Smith and Republican council candidate Tim Hubbard were tapped by the Independence Party to join Giglio on the Independence line in November.

There will also be Republican, Conservative and Independence party primaries in the Riverhead town justice race. Lori Hulse, seeking election to fill the seat on the bench being vacated by Justice Richard Ehlers, who is retiring, says she has filed petitions for the Republican, Conservative and Independence Party lines. The Republican and Conservative committees gave the justice court nod to Riverhead town attorney Robert Kozakiewicz. The Independence Party gave its nod to the Democrats’ town justice candidate, Jeanmarie Costello.

Both Democratic and Republican party leaders report getting double the minimum number of signatures needed to put their candidates on the ballot; Walter and Wooten report the same. Those numbers are thought to make the petitions bullet-proof to challenges by opponents. Haas said Friday he had no intention to mount any challenges to the Walter and Wooten petitions. Today is the last day challenges may be filed.

The primary election in New York state is scheduled to take place on Sept. 10 this year. The general election is Nov. 3.

Riverhead town justice candidates Bob Kozakiewicz, Lori Hulse and Jeanmarie Costello.
Riverhead town justice candidates Bob Kozakiewicz, Lori Hulse and Jeanmarie Costello.

Correction: A previously published version of this article incorrectly stated that Neil Krupnick was the only town board candidate not involved in a primary race. Laura Jens-Smith is also not in a primary race.

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Denise Civiletti
Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.