The town board split 4-1 on whether to call a public hearing on putting a four-year supervisor term on the ballot in November 2020. Photo: Julia-Anna Searson

The public will have a chance to weigh in — again — on whether to put a measure on the ballot to extend the town supervisor’s term of office from two to four years.

The town board voted today 4-1 vote to call a public hearing on the measure. The hearing — the second hearing in two years on the idea — is scheduled for Dec. 17 at 6:05 p.m.

Councilwoman Jodi Giglio cast the lone vote against calling the hearing.

“I feel that if you’re in the position and you’re doing a good job, you’ll get elected for a second term and that you don’t need a four-year term because I like the idea that you can change the dynamics or the direction of the town every two years if you choose to do so,” Giglio said.

“I think the public agrees with me,” she said. “I think this has been put up for a vote at least four or five times over the years. I think the more referendums you have on the back of the ballot the more confusing it is to people and I like the idea of being able to change the direction of the town every two years.”

Councilwoman Jodi Giglio voted against calling a public hearing, citing prior voter rejections of the idea. Photo: Julia-Anna Searson

Last year, the town board held a public hearing on the same proposal, but then voted 3-2 to shelve the idea.

A four-year term was put to a voter referendum in 2016, but was resoundingly defeated, with 65% of votes cast opposed to the idea. In 2009, after community opposition at a public hearing on a four-year supervisor’s term, the board voted against the measure. In 2005 and 2007, the town board put it up to a public vote, but both times voters rejected the idea by wide margins.

Council members James Wooten, Tim Hubbard and Councilwoman Catherine Kent supported calling a public hearing again.

Wooten said he supports the proposal. “Being as this doesn’t really involve anyone currently on the board or going off the board. I’ve always said this made sense,” Wooten said. “I always thought the supervisor should be four and council two,” he said.

The terms of office are set by state law and any change requires the town board to pass a local law changing the term, subject to a mandatory referendum.

Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith cited the 2016 adoption of 12-year term limits for council members and supervisors.

“I think the two-year term is too short for a supervisor. I think there are already term limits in place, if there weren’t term limits in place I wouldn’t do the four-year without the term limit,” Jens-Smith said. “The four years is conducive to better governance of the town, so I support the four year term.

Supervisor-elect Yvette Aguilar could not be reached for comment.

If, after the public hearing, the board votes to schedule a referendum, the measure would be on the ballot in November 2020. Should voters approve the proposal, the four-year term would take effect for the supervisor elected in November 2021.

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Julia-Anna Searson
Julia-Anna is a Riverhead native and a recent graduate of Stony Brook University, with a degree in Biology and minor in Anthropology. She currently lives in Cutchogue.