Councilwoman Catherine Kent and Supervisor Yvette Aguiar at the Jan. 9, 2020 work session. File photo: Denise Civiletti

Political campaigns are best and are more accurately run independent of town hall. I did not want to respond to the Councilwoman’s letter who is running for office. However, I find, the blatant and intentional distortions of the truth by an elected official who is running for office deserve correction.

Read Councilwoman Catherine Kent’s column here.

The COVID-19 pandemic should not be treated lightly and must continue to be treated in a manner which protects every single resident. The first COVID-19 case was reported in December 2019 and within a short period of time the outbreak developed exponentially into a pandemic. In just six months millions of people were infected and the 500,000 people lost their lives to this highly contagious disease. It is heartbreaking, as many of our residents lost loved ones.

I worked with representatives from the state, the county and fellow supervisors, and relied upon my emergency response staff, including the town attorney, to implement the protections and controls recommended by the CDC, the state and county departments. The CDC further recommended. immediate physical barriers to enforce social distancing and other physical barriers at employee workstations. The town, and yes, I, in particular, participated in daily briefings from state and county officials. In addition, addressing the governor’s executive orders requiring the implementation of new procedures to maintain our town’s safety. The wall may not be esthetic, however, it was necessary and cost effective to protect the public and employees at short notice. The COVID-19 pandemic was shocking, the wall was simply one of the many mandates required to comply with external health protocols.

I walked through the wall every day, many times a day and know my office has and will continue to remain open to the public every day. Furthermore, let it be known, I can confirm the councilwoman hardly came into town hall nor did I hear from her for many months. However, other town board members, some at times caring for family members infected with COVID-19 did offer and continued to actively assist with our COVID-19 operations.

Furthermore, the Riverhead response team briefed on a daily basis each town board member through COVID-19 situation reports and each council member was personally briefed through weekly telephone conferences on all emergency operations. In addition, individual town board member inquiries were addressed. While surrounding towns were fully closed, Town Hall never fully closed and we commenced holding board meetings in May.

As a public official, it is unethical to distort and spew intentional misconceptions. When a person runs for office, the public expects honorable and ethical candidates. Furthermore, let me remind you of my numerous attempts to open lines of communication with you for at least one year. However, you have refused to do so. Should you have elected to work with our town, you would have known, there is a purchase order being generated to enhance lobby security in a more esthetic manner. It was a lengthy process with our engineers, and the acquisition process is well underway.

As far as the public and temporary closure of town hall, along with Zoom meetings, again, I have a responsibility to adhere to Governor’s Executive Orders and directives on health, state, and county emergency protocols. I am fully aware Zoom meetings may be challenging, and some people are discouraged. However, please note the governor cancelled all public meetings across the entire state under an executive order. Town Hall briefly closed according to governor’s mandate, and reopened on a limited basis, as directed by the governor.

Riverhead is a great town, and I am proud to serve as the Supervisor. I am working diligently and will continue to do so. I will never make false accusations to front a political campaign. I have delivered and will continue to deliver the services and improvements needed for the betterment of our taxpayers. All our residents have and will continue to have access to me personally and all our Town Hall operations, including you.

Councilwoman, as you run for office, I ask, please be dignified, and stand on your record, not on inaccurate attacks, unless of course this is all you can bring to our town.

Yvette Aguiar (R) is Riverhead Town supervisor. She is seeking a second term of office in the 2021 election.

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