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Republican candidate for highway superintendent drops out of race

File photo: Denise Civiletti

The Republican candidate for highway superintendent has dropped out of the race.

Riverhead Republican chairman Remy Bell said William Van Helmond is exiting the race “for personal reasons.”

The candidate cited recent health issues that demand his attention.

Van Helmond’s withdrawal leaves the Republicans without a challenger to the sole Democratic incumbent on the ballot in this year’s town elections, Highway Superintendent George Woodson.

Woodson, who was first elected in 2007, won nearly 80 percent of the vote in the 2013 election, defeating Republican challenger Mike Panchak by a vote of 5,304 to 1,355. In fact, Woodson was the top vote-getter in the 2013 election — in which Woodson was elected to a four-year term as highway chief.

Bell said the GOP does not yet have a replacement candidate.

Woodson, a longtime Riverhead highway department employee before winning the superintendent post in his second campaign for the office in 2007, took the news in stride.

“I’ve been doing this for eight years. I think the people are happy with how I do my job,” he said. “I will just keep doing my job to the best of my ability.”

Denise Civiletti
Denise is a veteran local reporter and editor, an attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including a “writer of the year” award from the N.Y. Press Association in 2015. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website. Email Denise.