Riverhead Town Board meetings have been closed to in-person public attendance since April 2020 under the town supervisor's state of emergency declaration. Image: Video screenshot

To the Editor:

Has the Riverhead Town Board ceded to the Riverhead Republican Party its authority to evaluate candidates and fill the vacancy on the town board when Councilwoman Jodi Giglio vacates her seat for her new post in the New York State Assembly?

RiverheadLOCAL reported that the Republican Party has screened 18 candidates. That includes at least one person who had been a Democratic candidate in the last election.

This seat does not belong to the Republican Party. The idea that Giglio was elected because of her party affiliation rather than her personal standing is presumptuous at best, autocratic at worst.

Legally the town board is the only body entitled to fill the vacancy. Realistically, since the board will have a 3 to 1 Republican majority, it will be influenced by the opinion of the Republican Party. But hopefully it will not be controlled by whatever partisan process has taken place behind closed doors.

The town board should independently evaluate persons interested in serving and should treat equitably and openly all who express interest.

John McAuliff

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