Riverhead Supervisor Yvette Aguiar is threatening to mount a write-in campaign for supervisor this fall if Council Member Tim Hubbard continues to exhibit what she calls the Republican nominee’s weak management and leadership skills.
When asked whether she wanted Hubbard to win the office of supervisor, Aguiar said, “Who is the best candidate for the town should win. I fought for this town and I’ll continue, and I will not be subjected to his ill-ways of management that I had to endure all these years,” she said. “Come up to the plate and man up and do what’s the right things for the town, and learn how to lead.”
When asked who she was voting for, Aguiar said, “It doesn’t matter… I could put my own name in there.” She said a write-in campaign is “very possible. If he keeps up his antics, it’s very possible.”
“And I have a huge amount of support — and people know it,” Aguiar added.
Aguiar’s comments, in an interview with RiverheadLOCAL today seeking her reaction to Hubbard’s announcement that he had secured the votes to pass proposed moratoriums, underscores the divide present within the all-Republican Town Board and brings past policy disagreements and the occasional slight, to a new level.
“She’s welcome to do whatever she wants. Good luck with that,” Hubbard said sarcastically in a phone call when asked to respond to Aguiar’s comments. “There’s a reason she’s not on the ballot this year.”
Aguiar, who is in her second two-year term, announced her decision in February not to seek a third term. She did not give a reason for her decision. Later that month, the Republicans nominated Hubbard, whose second four-year term as a council member ends this year, to lead this year’s ballot.
Town Board members, although all members of the Republican party, have frequently disagreed on policy. Conflict between other board members and Aguiar erupted during last year’s budget process, where several amendments were proposed and passed, to Aguiar’s ire.
Last year, Aguiar accused Hubbard and Council Member Ken Rothwell of conspiring against her to take her job. Both council members recounted unpleasant interactions with a supervisor whose behavior they each described, in separate interviews, as “paranoid,” bullying and narcissistic.
During a work session last month, Aguiar made a disparaging comment to Hubbard during a discussion about bathrooms at Veterans Memorial Park, when Hubbard got frustrated at the supervisor’s misrepresentation of the size of the facilities.
“Guess you didn’t have a good day today,” Aguiar said to Hubbard.
“I did until I came in here,” Hubbard said.
“Supervisor material,” Aguiar said.
Last week, she argued against Hubbard’s proposal to impose moratoriums on industrial development in Calverton and on commercial battery storage facilities town-wide — two proposals that were popular in the last year with crowds of people at Town Hall meetings. Hubbard had pushed for a moratorium late last year, but did not garner enough support for a public hearing — with Aguiar being one of three board members voting against his resolution.
Aguiar said Hubbard’s press release today announcing he secured votes for the moratorium was a political move ahead of the Greater Calverton Civic Association’s candidate forum tonight aimed at currying favor with residents. Aguiar said Hubbard should have brought the subject up during the work session or mentioned it to her first.
“He should stand up on his run for supervisor, run on his record and learn some public management skills including the board,” Aguiar said. “And I will never, as he has endlessly tried since I took office in 2020, be bullied by his inability to be cohesive and inclusive in the board.”
“If you live in Riverhead, you have a big problem,” she said. “This is how you’re going to be — taxes — nobody’s going to believe it. It is going to turn into a hellhole…”
Hubbard said he does not give Aguiar’s comments credibility.
“I have been working with a bad manager since she took office in 2020,” Hubbard said. “And I have done everything to correct it as best I could and then I just decided to step away, because I don’t agree with her tactics and how she operates, how she treats people or anything else. I’ve never bullied her. I call her out on her own stuff. That’s what I do.”
A challenge by Aguiar could turn the tide of the 2023 town elections, with the potential to draw away Republican votes for Hubbard against his opponent Angela De Vito, the Democratic nominee.
But Hubbard said Aguiar’s comments could actually help, rather than hurt, his candidacy.
“I honestly feel that most people know what she’s about and they know that I’m very different from her,” Hubbard said. “So I think that if they vote for me, they’re not getting the same supervisor they’ve had for the past four years, they’re getting a completely different person who promises things are going to be much better. A lot more transparency, a lot more openness and that’s how it’s going to be — and that’s how it should have been all along.”
As for Aguiar’s “huge amount of support,” Hubbard said: “She says a lot of things… doesn’t mean they’re correct, right, truthful or anything else.”
Tammy Robinkoff, the Riverhead Republican Committee chairperson, said she does not see a potential write-in campaign from Aguiar being a threat to Hubbard’s chances of winning supervisor this year.
“I do not support that. Hopefully she does not do this,” Robinkoff said of a possible write-in campaign. “But unfortunately, she’s always done whatever she wants to do.”
Candidates who have failed to get a party endorsement and are not on the ballot on an independent third-party line can attempt to get elected by having voters write in their names on the ballot. It’s a very difficult hurdle to clear. In the past few election cycles, roughly 9,000 voters have gone to the polls for the general election in November. The candidate with the majority of votes cast wins the election.
Write-in candidates in Riverhead town-wide elections have not been successful in recent years. In 2017, term-limited Council Member John Dunleavy ran a write-in campaign for supervisor, but lost. There were only 129 votes for write-in candidates for supervisor that year, which was not close to the gap between the party nominees. Prior to that, in 2005, then-incumbent Council Member Rose Sanders was passed over by the Republican Party in favor of Dunleavy and mounted a write-in campaign for re-election. Sanders polled 6.45 percent of the votes cast — 1,077 votes — and placed fifth in a field of seven candidates for two council seats. Incumbent Republican Council Member Barbara Blass and Dunleavy won the council race.
The survival of local journalism depends on your support.
We are a small family-owned operation. You rely on us to stay informed, and we depend on you to make our work possible. Just a few dollars can help us continue to bring this important service to our community.
Support RiverheadLOCAL today.