Republicans swept every contested race in this year’s town elections, taking both open town board seats and ousting incumbent Democrat Laura Jens-Smith as town supervisor.
Challenger Yvette Aguiar notched a stunning upset victory in the town supervisor race, winning 54% of the vote to Jens-Smith’s 45%.
“I will represent all the people,” Aguiar told a jubilant crowd of supporters gathered to watch the election returns roll in at Outerbanks Restaurant in Riverhead, “regardless of party, race, ethnicity or sexual orientation.” She said she went door-to-door to 11,000 homes in Riverhead and listened to what the community had to say. She vowed to represent the community and continue to listen to residents.
Incumbent Councilman Tim Hubbard handily won re-election to a second four-year term with 29% of the vote, followed by Republican Frank Beyrodt with 27%. Democrats Diane Tucci and Pat Snyder polled 21% and 18% respectively. Libertarian William Van Helmond took just 1.7% of the vote.
Democrat Catherine Kent, who won election in 2017, will be the only Democrat on the town board come January.
“We won’t always agree on everything, ” Hubbard said. “But how we disagree is important,” he said. “We’re going to work much smoother and hopefully we can accomplish a lot more.”
Frank Beyrodt, who in 2017 finished just 128 votes behind Kent, agreed. “I’m going to work hard to make sure everything works well and we do the best we can,” Beyrodt said.
Mason Haas, a 12-year incumbent and newcomer Meredith Lipinsky were elected to the board of assessors. Haas and Lipinsky polled about evenly in the four-way race, each with 31% of the votes cast. Democrats Tara Taylor and Jaraby Thomas finished with 21% and 18% respectively.
The mood was somber at the Dark Horse Restaurant on Main Street, where Riverhead Democrats gathered to watch the results of the elections come in.
Speaking to the crowd of supporters there, Jens-Smith expressed disappointment that the town had not given her two more years. But she described the loss as “a bump in the road and nothing more” for Riverhead’s Democratic party.
“We might not have been victorious tonight,” she said, “but we will be victorious because we believe in Riverhead, and we will fight for Riverhead. That’s our job going forward.”
After speaking to supporters, Jens-Smith went to the Republican victory party to concede the election and congratulate Aguiar.
“I congratulate you and wish you well,” Jens-Smith told her opponent.
“Thank you,” Aguiar responded. “I hope you stay in touch.”
Aguiar — and the rest of the successful candidates — will take office Jan. 1.
Unofficial results of the general election
|William Van Helmond||268||1.70%|
|Diane Wilhelm (town clerk)||5,524||99.84%|
|Laurie Zaneski (receiver of taxes)||6,557||99.80%|
|Lori Hulse (town justice)||6,575||99.76%|
Denise Civiletti and Courtney Blasl contributed reporting to this story.
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