RiverheadLOCAL graphic: Courtney Blasl

Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 2.

Voters in Riverhead this year will choose a town supervisor, two council members, a highway superintendent and two assessors.

Voters will also elect a county legislator, county sheriff and a district attorney.

Eight State Supreme Court justices, a county court judge and two family court judges are also on the ballot. Each of these races is uncontested as all candidates are endorse by the Democratic, Republican and Conservative parties.

There are five statewide propositions on the ballot this year. See below.

Town Supervisor

The town supervisor is a voting member of the town board and acts as the presiding officer (chairperson) of its meetings. The supervisor, as the town’s executive officer, is generally responsible for carrying out decisions made by the town board.

The supervisor is also the treasurer of the town and the town’s fiscal officer. The supervisor is responsible for receiving and having custody of all moneys belonging to or due to the town, from public or other sources and for disbursing town moneys. The supervisor is also responsible for keeping an accurate and complete account of all moneys received and disbursed, ensuring that funds appropriated to any account are not expended to pay a claim chargeable to another account, and providing the town board with detailed monthly statements of all moneys received and disbursed during the month, as well as filing a copy with the town clerk. The supervisor is responsible for providing the town board with a detailed annual report of moneys received and disbursed and for proving an annual financial report with the state comptroller within 120 days after the close of the fiscal year. The supervisor also acts as the town’s budget officer unless the supervisor appoints a budget officer.

The supervisor’s term of office is two years and the position pays an annual salary of $115,148, plus benefits.

Supervisor Yvette Aguiar is seeking a second two-year term. Aguiar, 62, a Republican, unseated one-term Democratic incumbent Laura Jens-Smith in 2019. Born and raised in the Bronx, she is a retired New York City Police Department detective sergeant. She is a licensed real estate salesperson with Coach Realtors, and an associate professor in security and global studies at American Military University.

Aguiar says her record includes navigating the town through the COVID-19 crisis, including securing more than 1,500 vaccines for senior citizens, while “lowering the line of taxes, overhauling code enforcement, improving services for Riverhead’s senior citizens, veterans and youth.” She says during her tenure crime in Riverhead has declined “exponentially” while it has risen “exponentially” in other towns. Aguiar says her efforts have led to the completion of Island Water Park in Calverton, which she has called “a mini Disneyland,” and will bring 500 jobs and increased tourism to the town. She is also an avid supporter of drag racing at the Calverton Enterprise Park, initiated this year under her stewardship.

Aguiar is married to Paul Carr. They live in Riverhead and have one adult child, John Gentile.

Councilwoman Catherine Kent is challenging Aguiar for the supervisor’s post. Kent, 65, a Democrat, is finishing a four-year term as councilwoman, to which she was elected in 2017. A Riverhead native and lifelong resident, she is retired from Riverhead schools after a 31-year teaching career.

Kent says she would increase transparency and public participation in town government, arguing that both have suffered during the Aguiar administration. She has opposed the sale of 1,600-plus acres of industrial land at the Calverton Enterprise Park to a Triple Five Group affiliate, a contract approved by a prior town board before she took office. She says the town has not adequately vetted the purchaser or its development plan and has called for exercising the town’s option to cancel the contract. She has also opposed five-story apartment buildings on Main Street and established the downtown revitalization committee, which recommended the town develop a pattern book and new zoning for downtown development.

Kent lives in Riverhead. She is the mother of three adult children, Travis, Daniel and Emma.

Town Council Members

There are four candidates in the race for two open council seats on the five-member Riverhead Town Board in this year’s election. The council members, along with the town supervisor, form the town board, which sits as the governing body of the town, the Community Development Agency and many of the town’s special taxing districts, including its water, sewer and ambulance districts.

By state law, the town board is generally responsible for the operation of town government, including: adopting the town’s budget and monitoring results of operations; developing and setting policies for town government, including rules of procedure for town meetings; adopting local laws and town codes, including zoning and land use codes; and authorizing the supervisor to enter contracts and dispense town funds in accordance with the town budget.

The council member position is classified as part-time. The term of office is four years and the position carries pays an annual salary of $48,955, plus benefits.

Evelyn Hobson-Womack of Riverhead, Democrat, is seeking elective office for the first time.

Hobson-Womack, 56, is a Riverhead native, a 1983 Riverhead High School graduate and U.S. Army veteran. She joined the Riverhead Police Department in 1993 and retired in June. Hobson-Womack was the first African American woman to serve as a police officer in the town police department. When she was promoted to detective in February 2002, she was the first woman and the first African American to attain the rank of detective in the history of the department.

Hobson-Womack says she’s running for town board because “Riverhead deserves a better reputation and a brighter outlook than it’s had lately.” She says she will listen to Riverhead residents. She says she will prioritize public safety and fiscal responsibility and will make sure “zoning remains in place to stop oversized buildings, overdevelopment, and drastic changes to our hamlets.”
She lives in Riverhead with her husband, Kevin Womack Sr. They have two adult children, Kevin Jerome and Imani.

Robert Kern, Republican candidate for councilman, is seeking his first elective office.

Kern, 68, is president of the Riverhead Chamber of Commerce, chairman of the Riverhead Town Business Advisory Committee, treasurer of the Riverhead Industrial Development Agency and is a member of the town’s Agricultural Advisory Committee.

Kern is the owner of 2XS, a marketing consulting firm. He was general manager at Martha Clara Vineyards from 2001 to 2010.

Kern says he’s looking forward to “keeping this town ‘the town of yes’ with the team thats currently in place on the town board.”

Juan Micieli-Martinez, Democratic candidate for councilman, is a winemaker with Premium Wine Group and a consultant in the craft wine industry, in which he has worked for 20 years. He was winemaker and general manager at Martha Clara Vineyards in Riverhead from 2010 to 2018.

Micieli-Martinez, 44, of Riverhead, is a lifelong resident of the East End. He has served on the board of the L.I. Farm Bureau and is a member of the L.I. Wine Council, the East End Tourism Alliance, and a member of the Downtown Revitalization Committee.

Micieli-Martinez says his main priorities are preserving the town’s rural character and agricultural heritage, ensuring accountability and responsible spending by town government, advocating for the environment and working for the revitalization of Downtown Riverhead, where he lives with his wife Bridget and their son, Benicio.

Kenneth Rothwell, Republican candidate for councilman, was appointed to the town board in January to fill the seat vacated by former Councilwoman Jodi Giglio after her election to the State Assembly, is seeking election to a four-year term.

Rothwell, 50, is the owner of four area funeral homes, including the Alexander-Rothwell Funeral Home in Wading River. Rothwell says he is a successful business leader who will apply proven economic strategies to town government. In his nine months in office, he has sponsored legislation to prohibit the sale of commercially bred dogs, cats and rabbits in Riverhead Town. As liaison to the Riverhead Veterans Advisory Committee, he worked to establish the “hometown heroes” banner program in Downtown Riverhead. Rothwell is also an outspoken supporter of drag racing at the Calverton Enterprise Park.

Rothwell is longtime volunteer firefighter, serving in the Southampton Fire Department. He lives in Wading River with his wife, Debra and their two sons, Kenny and Cameron.

Superintendent of Highways

Two Riverhead Highway Department employees and a Jamesport business owner look to succeed Highway Superintendent George Woodson in the superintendent post. Woodson is retiring at the end of this year. The highway superintendent is responsible for maintaining town roads, including paving, repairing, and snow-plowing, and running the day-to-day operations of department. The term of office is four years and the job pays an annual salary of $94,803.

William Renten, of Aquebogue, is the Democratic candidate for highway superintendent.

He works for the Riverhead Highway Department. He previously worked for the Riverhead Water District. He served four years in the U.S. Navy.

A longtime Riverhead resident, he is a 30-plus year member of the Riverhead Fire Department and currently serves as second assistant chief. He was honored as Fireman of the Year in 2016, for rescuing a man from a fire.

William Van Helmond, of Jamesport, is conducting a write-in campaign for the highway superintendent position.

Van Helmond is the owner of WCVH Landscaping Services in Jamesport, a landscaping and property management company in Jamesport. Van Helmond was the Republican Party nominee for highway superintendent in 2017 but dropped out a month after receiving the committee’s support, forfeiting its nomination. He then ran as a write-in that fall.

He is a member of the Libertarian Party and the party’s Suffolk County chairman.

Michael Zaleski, of Riverhead, is the Republican candidate for highway superintendent.

He is currently deputy highway superintendent and previously served as shop foreman. He has worked in the highway department for 27 years.

A Riverhead High School graduate, Zaleski says he has the experience and knowledge to assume the superintendent of highways role.

Town Assessor

There are four people seeking election to two town assessor posts this year. One position carries a four-year term and the term of the other position will end Dec. 31, 2023 — the expiration of a four-year term of office to which assessor Mason Haas was elected in 2019, his fourth term. Haas retired in February.

Riverhead Town has a three-member board of assessors, each of whom are elected to a four-year term. The position carries an annual salary of $83,846. The chairperson of the board is paid a salary of $96,549.

The board of assessors is charged with the responsibility of assessing real property in the town for purposes of taxation.

Dana Brown was a senior assessment clerk in the assessors office for seven years when she was appointed by the town board in April to fill the vacancy created by Haas’ retirement in February. She had already been designated by the Republican committee as its candidate for the position.

She is seeking election to fill the remainder of Haas’ term.

Ellen Hoil has lived in Riverhead 20 years. A Democrat, she is an attorney and author. She says she has “a sound foundation in interpreting laws, budgeting, financial matters, and overseeing staff.” She has worked for 15 years as in-house counsel in a small businesses, where she oversees budgeting, cash flow and marketing, in addition to legal work on contracts, regulatory compliance, and labor law.

Hoil is seeking election to the remainder of the term held by Haas.

Tara Taylor of Riverhead has a bachelor’s degree in accounting and a master’s degree in buns administration with a concentration in accounting.

She is a homemaker with two sons, Tyr’k, 22, and Edwin, 17, who is a senior at Riverhead High School.

She is seeking election to the four-year term on the ballot this year.

Incumbent Assessor Laverne Tennenberg, who serves as the chairperson of the board of assessors, was first elected to that post in 1989 and is seeking election to a ninth term this year.

Tennenberg is the longest-serving elected town official in modern history. She is a member of the Institute of Assessing Officers since 1996 and awarded the designation of professional assessor. She previously served as president and treasurer of the Suffolk County Assessors’ Association and since 1998 has been treasurer of the New York State Assessors’ Association.

As chairperson of the board of assessors, Tennenberg’s other duties include exemption administration, deed transfers, splits and assemblages of properties, oversight of the state’s assessment software system, preparation of assessment and tax rolls, and staff training.

County races

In county races this year, County Legislator Al Krupski (D-Cutchogue) is seeking re-election in the First Legislative District. He is a fourth generation farmer and the operator of Krupski’s Pumpkin Farm. He is a former Southold own trustee and councilman. Krupski faces a challenge from Republican candidate Remy Bell of Riverhead. Bell is retired from the board of elections and currently works part time as a traffic control officer for the Town of Riverhead.

District Attorney Tim Sini is seeking a second term. Sini was appointed district attorney in January 2016, following a scandal that led to the resignation of his predecessor, Tom Spota. Sini previously served as Suffolk County police commissioner and deputy county executive for public safety. He is a former federal prosecutor.

Sini faces a challenge from Ray Tierney, an executive assistant district attorney in Kings County and a former assistant U.S. attorney in the eastern district of New York. He in charge of the Kings County District Attorney’s Violent Criminal Enterprises Bureau, Crime Strategies Unit, and Body Worn Camera Unit.

Ballot propositions

There are five statewide ballot propositions before voters in this election. The propositions would amend the State Constitution on matters concerning: the apportionment and redistricting process; establishing the right of each person to clean air and water; eliminating the 10-day advance voter registration requirement; authorizing no-excuse absentee ballot voting; and increasing the jurisdiction of New York City Civil Court.

The New York State League of Women Voters has published a pamphlet describing each proposition in detail, providing pros and cons of each.

League of Women Voters of NYS 2021 Voters Guide: Ballot Propositions by RiverheadLOCAL on Scribd

See the Suffolk County Board of Elections sample ballot booklet for the 2021 General Election here.

(The Riverhead sample ballot is on page 130 of this document.)

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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.