Denise Merrifield, pictured at the Jan. 2 town board work session, has resigned after just two weeks on the job. Photo: Denise Civiletti

Riverhead’s deputy supervisor has abruptly resigned.

Denise Merrifield quit yesterday after two weeks on the job. Merrifield took office with Supervisor Yvette Aguiar on Jan. 1.

Aguiar was in Albany at a training school for newly elected officials from Wednesday until today. She said this afternoon that Merrifield called her yesterday to tell her she was resigning.

“She decided to pursue teaching law,” Aguiar said in a phone interview this afternoon. Merrifield is a former Suffolk County assistant district attorney. “It surprised us,” Aguiar said. “She was an integral part of my transition team.”

Aguiar said she plans to appoint Councilman Tim Hubbard as deputy supervisor. Hubbard served in that role under former supervisor Laura Jens-Smith in 2018.

Hubbard said today he told the supervisor he’d be “honored to serve in that capacity.”

Merrifield has not responded to a phone call seeking comment.

Aguiar said after the three-day training course, she is rethinking the staffing structure of her office. She said the comptroller’s office stressed the importance of having a budget officer in the supervisor’s office and she is assessing that recommendation for Riverhead Town.

“I will have a plan going forward before Tuesday’s work session,” Aguiar said.

Merrifield was one of two appointments made by Aguiar, who named Jamesport resident Devin Higgins as chief of staff.

Patrick Derenze, who served as legislative secretary under the previous supervisor, stayed on past the end of the year to assist in the transition. Today was Derenze’s last day; he tendered his resignation two weeks ago.

Aguiar said she will present the town board with a resolution next week appointing Lisa Richards to the legislative secretary post.

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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.