The three members of the Riverhead Town Board whose terms expire at the end of this year will not say whether or not they’ll seek re-election.
Only one, Council Member Tim Hubbard, would confirm he is screening with the Republican party for a nomination to town office — but won’t say for which seat.
The current terms of Supervisor Yvette Aguiar, Hubbard and Council Member Frank Beyrodt expire Dec. 31. Council members have four-year terms, while the town supervisor has a two-year term.
Both local Republican and Democratic party committees are preparing to screen candidates, and have put out advertisements and social media posts soliciting candidates to interview for all town positions on this year’s ballot.
Hubbard, who in 2021 was considering a run for supervisor on the Republican ticket, but withdrew his name weeks before the convention, said last August he had not ruled out a run for supervisor in 2023. That statement came in an interview with RiverheadLOCAL after Aguiar that accused him and Council Member Ken Rothwell of conspiring against her to undermine her because they wanted the supervisor job. Hubbard and Rothwell both denied the supervisor’s allegations.
Hubbard was first elected to Town Board in 2015 and re-elected in 2019. He served as deputy supervisor for about a year under former Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith, a Democrat.
Aguiar, who ousted Jens-Smith in 2019, and handily beat back a challenge from former Council Member Catherine Kent in 2021, for has not said whether she will seek a third term. She did not respond to a call and a text message Monday seeking comment for this article. In an interview with local AM radio host Bruce Tria last week, Aguiar said she would make a decision on the upcoming election t by the end of the month based on “research,” adding during the conversation that she was elected with “record breaking support” and that she has a “pulse on the community.”
In 2021, Aguiar defeated Kent with 58% of the vote, a wider margin than the 54% she gained to unseat Jens-Smith two years earlier.
Council Member Frank Beyrodt, who won a first term in 2019 declined to comment when asked whether he would seek re-election or screen for any position with the Republican screening committee.
If re-election bid by Aguiar is challenged by another Republican candidate, regardless of which candidate gets the party committee’s support, Republican voters would pick their nominee in a party primary election in June. The last primary election for Riverhead town supervisor took place in 2015, when then-Council Member Jodi Giglio, who was narrowly endorsed by the party committee, defeated incumbent Supervisor Sean Walter in a close primary election. Walter then ran for re-election on the Conservative Party line and prevailed in a three-way race in the November general election, defeating both Giglio and Democrat Anthony Coates.
Among the three incumbent board members whose terms are expiring, Hubbard was the only member who held a fundraising event this past year, raising more than $10,000, according to his campaign committee’s January periodic disclosure report filed with the state Board of Elections. Among the contributions was $1,000 from Greg DeRosa of Main Street developer G2D; $1,000 from Philip Foote and $1,000 from Justin Fallon, also of G2D; $750 from Mark Lembo of renewable energy developer CEA Energy; $750 from DeLea Sod Farms, a business owned by Council Member Beyrodt’s family; $750 from the Hyatt Place in Riverhead; and $750 from Council Member Rothwell’s campaign committee.
Hubbard’s committee has roughly $8,000 cash on hand and no outstanding loans, according to the January filing.
Aguiar received just two contributions this cycle: $500 from the King Kullen Grocery Company and $500 from the Commercial Industrial Brokers Society of Long Island, according to her committee’s January periodic report. Prior to the current reporting period, Aguiar did receive roughly $16,000 in campaign contributions following her election in 2021, including $1,000 from G2D; $1,000 from the L.I. Drag Racing Club (Long Island Needs a Drag Strip); $1,000 from J. Petrocelli Contracting; and $1,000 from gun shop and shooting range business Niosi Firearms Development.
Aguiar’s committee has $22,569.91 cash on hand, and two outstanding loans from Aguiar totaling $20,000, according to the January report.
Beyrodt has not received any contributions since 2020, after he first entered office. He has only a little more than $85 in his campaign account, according to his committee’s January periodic report.
The screening committee of the Riverhead Republican party has set Friday, Jan. 27 as a deadline for resumés to be submitted, according to Republican committee member Victor Prusinowski, who heads up the screening committee.
The town’s Democratic committee has several people interested in screening for the Democratic nomination, according to Jens-Smith, who was elected chairperson of the Riverhead Town Democratic Committee last year.
“We are still in the early stages of organizing it and getting our screening committee to start scheduling people,” she said.
Jens-Smith, a former one-term supervisor, said she will not be running for office this year. She said she will focus on “rebuilding” the Democratic committee and going back to school to get a Masters in Business Administration degree.
Riverhead Democrats are trying to get people involved by holding a “Politics 101: Riverhead Edition” informational session this Saturday to explain Riverhead’s local government structure, present an overview of the upcoming elections and meet members of the Riverhead Democratic committee.
Jens-Smith said other local political parties have done similar events in the past. The event is from 1 to 4 p.m.. Anyone interested can RSVP to RiverheadTownDemocrats@gmail.com or call 516-356-7716. Jens-Smith said the committee will start screening candidates after the event.
The Riverhead Republican campaign committee has a little less than $5,400 cash on hand, according to its January periodic report.
The Riverhead Democratic committee has not yet filed its January report, which was due Jan. 13. The committee reported just over $10,000 cash on hand at the end of the prior reporting period, which closed in July 2022.
In addition to the three seats up for election on the Town Board, the elected positions of town clerk, one town justice, the tax receiver, and two town assessors will be on the ballot this year. All serve four-year terms. All the elected officials in the town, other than Town Clerk Diane Wilhelm, are Republican.
Elections for county executive and legislature will also take place this year. Democrats have thrown their support behind Dave Calone, who is a venture capitalist and former federal prosecutor and assistant state attorney general, according to the Suffolk County Democrats’ website. Calone is also a former chair of the Suffolk County Planning Commission, where he helped develop the county’s comprehensive plan. Since Calone announced his bid for office in July last year, he has more than $1.6 million in his campaign war chest, of which he has raised around $1.1 million from contributions.
Suffolk County Republicans have not yet publicly endorsed a candidate for county executive.
The State Board of Elections has not yet published a calendar setting forth deadlines for nominating petitions and deadlines for getting on the ballot in any primary election. A spokesperson for the State Board of Elections said today the board is “waiting for the legislature to give their final okay” to the schedule of dates and the calendar should be up “any day.”
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