Former Southold Town Trustee Greg Williams (R-Cutchogue) Courtesy photo.

A second candidate is seeking the Republican nomination in Suffolk’s First Legislative District.

Former Southold Town Trustee Greg Williams has declared his candidacy for the seat, challenging the county committee’s designee, Catherine Stark of Riverhead.

Williams’ entry into the race will force a Republican Party primary election in June when Republican voters will decide which candidate will represent them in the November general election, facing off against Democrat Catherine Kent of Baiting Hollow.

Williams, 50, of Cutchogue, served one term as a Southold Town Trustees before making an unsuccessful run for Southold Town Board in 2021.

A lifelong North Fork resident, Willams has owned and operated Country Time Cycle in Mattituck for more than 25 years. He is married and the father of two.

In a press release issued last week, Williams cited managing the growing traffic problems that plague local roadways, fixing a “broken” permit process that stifles small business, and continuing to focus on land preservation and ecological conservation to protect the region’s character and quality of life.

“One of my concerns is as as a small business owner and being friends with many other small business owners and entrepreneurs, we have a code — county code, town code — and, you know, when you buy a piece of property, you’re expecting certain rights as per the code and the zoning on the property,” Williams said in an interview Sunday.

The review process takes far too long for projects that comply with applicable codes, he said. It should be streamlined “so that the applicant can move forward in an expected time frame and not be burdened with six months, seven months, eight months of just waiting,” Williams said. Those kinds of delays can really hurt a small business owner, he said. “Many times you have a deposit on a builder to get work started on a certain timeline. You’re paying interest on the investment you’re losing money because you can’t open and you know, there is a guideline there is a code it needs to be respected,” he said.

Traffic problems, which Williams observes have “increased exponentially” with the North Fork’s popularity, can be tackled with technology.

“In my opinion, there is no real reason for this to be an unsolvable issue,” Williams said. “The problem lies in the inability of several municipal agencies to smoothly coordinate with one another so that when traffic moves from one area of jurisdiction to another, a structured effort with efficient communication and execution can be put in place,” he said. That kind of coordination will make “the virtual gridlock we often experience during the busy seasons” become a thing of the past, Williams said.

Williams said he believes land preservation is “the key to our future success.” The beauty of the North Fork and the quality of life it offers is what makes it such a desirable place to live, and has to be preserved, he said.

“Unconstrained development is a short-sighted money grab,” Williams said. “If we lose that which makes us unique – our beautiful land, waterways and open spaces accessible to all – then we lose everything.”

Williams doesn’t see “smart preservation practices” as incompatible with “measured, structured” development.” When both are pursued, he said, “everybody wins.”

The candidate points to his record of service supporting community organizations and events. He said he has served as Grand Knight of the Marian Council Knights of Columbus, Cub Master and Committee member of the Cub Scouts, a board member of the Mattituck Gun Club, Coach of CYO basketball and Little League, and is a member of the Loyal Order of the Moose. Williams said he also actively supports many local organizations and outreach groups, some of which include the Center for Advocacy-Support-Transformation formerly known as Community Action Southold Town (CAST), Maureen’s Haven and John’s Place (Riverhead.)

Williams said he has no personal animosity toward the party designee. “Our fathers were friends,” Williams said. “I knew her as a kid,” he said. Their families socialized together.

In a phone interview Sunday, Stark made similar comments.

“As far as I’m concerned, it’s the democratic process,” she said. “Anyone chooses to run a primary against the county’s designated choice, that’s their right,” she said. “I have no animosity toward him for running.”

Both Southold Town and Suffolk County Republican Party leaders said the party committees are supporting their designee, Stark.

“Unfortunately it appears we have someone that has been blinded by personal ambition and self-motivation,” Garcia said in an interview this morning. “He never screened with any of the five committees,” Garcia said, referring to the county Republican committee and the party committees in each of the towns comprising the First Legislative District, which takes in Riverhead, Southold, Shelter Island and part of Brookhaven.

“I have been a loyal Republican very active in community and political activities for years, so I am confused by his statement,” Williams said in a phone interview this morning.

He said he did ask to be screened by the party committee but was not given the opportunity. He produced a screenshot of a text message exchange he had with Southold Republican Committee Chairperson Peter McGreevy on Wednesday, Feb. 15, in which McGreevy told him he’d spoken with Garcia that morning and “you will be screening.” He told him that morning someone would be in touch with him. That evening, Williams texted McGreevy again to inquire about the status of an interview with the county leader. McGreevy replied, “No clue, Jesse just said they are doing them this weekend.”

Williams said he was never contacted. “Obviously Chairman Garcia is a very busy man and likely forget about these interactions,” he said.

The incumbent in the First Legislative District, Legislator Al Krupski (D-Cutchogue) decided not to seek re-election this year and instead run for Southold Town supervisor. Krupski is looking to replace longtime incumbent Supervisor Scott Russell, a Republican, who chose not to seek re-election. Krupski, who has served 10 years as county legislator, is a former Southold Town Council Member and Trustee. While on the Southold Town Board, also served as Russell’s deputy supervisor.

Stark has served as a legislative aide to Krupski for his decade in the county legislature.

“She is deeply ingrained in the community,” Garcia said. “Having worked shoulder to shoulder with a lot of the stakeholders and residents in the district, she can hit the ground running once she takes office in January 2024,” he said.

The party primary election is scheduled to take place on June 27. Early voting will take place June 17-25.

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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.