Tags Posts tagged with "GOP"

GOP

Anna Throne-Holst. Photo by Phil Corso

By Phil Corso

The Democrats’ race to regain the 1st Congressional District is on, as a former Southampton Town supervisor has stepped up to challenge for the red seat.

Anna Throne-Holst photo by Phil Corso
Anna Throne-Holst photo by Phil Corso

Anna Throne-Holst had a potential final term at the head of Southampton’s town board, but declined to run so she could free herself up for a congressional campaign. She, along with Setauket native Dave Calone, will face off in a federal primary on June 28 to determine who will run against freshman U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) in November.

Zeldin unseated six-term Democrat Tim Bishop by a wide margin — 54 percent of the vote to 45 percent — in a contentious election back in 2014, and saw Democratic challengers stepping up to reclaim the spot within a matter of months. Throne-Holst entered the race in the latter half of 2015 and has been aggressive in her attacks against the Republican lawmaker ever since.

In a sit-down with TBR News Media, Throne-Holst described Zeldin as a conservative, climate change-denier who votes largely along party lines.

“When we have legislators who are focusing on being destructive rather than constructive, I think it’s time to make a positive change,” she said. “I think there’s a lot of buyer’s remorse with Lee Zeldin. He has just voted straight down the line.”

Government tracking website GovTrack reported 45 percent of Zeldin’s 11 bills and resolutions had both Democratic and Republican cosponsors in 2015. The site also showed Zeldin cosponsored 116 bills and resolutions introduced by other members of Congress, rating his willingness to work with others to advance policy goals as second lowest among the New York delegation.

Jennifer DiSiena, a spokeswoman for Zeldin, said Zeldin has pursued an aggressive agenda on behalf of his constituents on Long Island, working to protect America’s security at home and abroad, help grow the economy, support veterans and first responders, improve the quality of education, repair the nation’s infrastructure and safeguard the environment.

“Congressman Zeldin has been working all day, every day across party lines, delivering results on important issues facing his constituents,” DiSiena said in a statement. “He has been recognized as the top freshman Republican likely to co-sponsor legislation with members of the opposite party.

“Congressman Zeldin believes the climate has always been changing. Instead of taking a position on so many issues that matter most to NY-1 voters, these two Democratic candidates are desperately trying to distract and deflect, to throw up anything at all against the wall to see what politically charged attack can stick.”

Throne-Holst said she had a proven track record while serving in elected office that could translate to the national level.

Before entering public office, Throne-Holst co-founded the Hayground School — an elementary school dedicated to supporting children with different learning needs. After serving as a councilwoman, she was the first Democrat to be elected supervisor in Southampton since 1993, overcoming a heavy red-leaning electorate on the East End. She touted her experience as supervisor working to reduce spending and help the town achieve a AAA bond rating. She worked closely with Stony Brook University, helping to secure funding for a clean water research center and seeking ways to improve Long Island’s septic system technologies. She also said she supported bipartisan efforts to preserve Southampton’s shorelines, resulting in the saving of 1,200 acres of open space.

She has garnered support from some of the Democratic Party’s biggest players, including Bishop, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and longtime incumbent U.S. Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington), who Throne-Holst said was pivotal in convincing her to run.

“Anna is exactly what we need in Congress,” Israel said in an email. “She has strengthened the community with job creation and launched economic growth with downtown revitalization.”

If elected, Throne-Holst would be the first woman to represent the 1st District, which covers virtually the entirety of eastern Long Island from Smithtown outward.

Her campaign has raised close to $1.1 million, compared to Calone’s $907,000.

Her Democratic opponent has collected key endorsements too — from State Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket), Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai), Brookhaven Town Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station), Suffolk County Legislator Bridget Fleming (D-Sag Harbor) and East Hampton Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell (D). In a previous interview, Calone, who has never held elected office, said his hands-on experience helping Long Island businesses thrive was a driving force behind his decision to run. He works as CEO of Jove Equity Partners LLC, a venture capital firm that helps start and build technology companies.

“This area was a great place to grow up and a lot of my classmates have already left and don’t come back,” he said in June 2015. “We need to be a leader in the economy of New York and worldwide.”

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and Legislator Sarah Anker stand together on Election Day. Photo by Rohma Abbas

By Desirée Keegan

Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker has won back her seat after a hard-fought battle that began on Election Day, when the polls closed with her leading her challenger by only one vote.

After absentee ballots were counted, the 6th District legislator expanded her lead to 17 votes, ending a race on Thursday that had originally been projected to drag through Thanksgiving.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and Legislator Sarah Anker stand together on Election Day. Photo by Rohma Abbas
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and Legislator Sarah Anker stand together on Election Day. Photo by Rohma Abbas

“It’s been a very intense race,” Anker (D-Mount Sinai) said. “I’ve had so many people come up to me, claiming that they were that one vote, and I am greatly appreciative and thankful that my supporters did go out there and vote. The bottom line is that every single vote counts.”

First-time Republican challenger Steve Tricarico, a deputy superintendent for the Town of Brookhaven Highway Department, said although the results were not what he preferred, he will continue to be a voice in his community.

“This is a great civics lesson,” he said. “We ran a good race, a clean race, an honest race, and I’m just glad that a lot of the positions that we took throughout the campaign have gotten out there. I grew up here, I live here, I’m raising my family here in the 6th District and I will continue to be an advocate for those issues that I feel are most important to the residents.”

Tricarico said he called Anker to congratulate her and wish her luck in her new two-year term, but also said he voiced his desire for the incumbent to think about some of the issues he focused on in his campaign, such as the local cost of living and public safety.

Anker will start her sixth year in office in January, in an area that frequently elects candidates from the opposite party — 6th District voters have consistently supported Conservative Councilwoman Jane Bonner for Brookhaven Town Board and Anker’s predecessor was Republican Dan Losquadro, who vacated his seat to become a state assemblyman and then later the town highway superintendent.

“People ask me why I put myself through the stress to run a very competitive campaign, and my answer would be because I love to help people, and I want to continue to do that job; people underestimate what I can do and what I can get done,” Anker said. “I think during the counting of the absentee votes, the GOP was quite surprised. They expected to win a number of votes over in the senior community, but I gained a lot of support there because I worked really hard in that area to help them with their problems and to help them with concerns and issues.”

Steve Tricarico is confident on Election Day. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Steve Tricarico is confident on Election Day. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Tricarico said he is back to focusing on his job at the highway department, and that with results showing that nearly half of the people in the 6th District are looking for change, he will not be closing the door on a future run.

Joking that she will be taking some much-needed time off, Anker said she is also ready to move forward with projects she’s been working on, such as those geared toward keeping young professionals on Long Island by erecting affordable housing and connecting college graduates with local jobs. In focusing on public safety, Anker has been working with Hope House Ministries in Port Jefferson to address drug addiction on the North Shore.

“Even though this race was very close, it still shows that people are happy with the job that I’m doing and they’re willing to jump the party line,” Anker said. “I make sure I’m inclusive of a lot of ideas. I’m transparent. I think my ability to stay focused on the goal of helping people and trying to resolve problems has elevated me above the fray.”

Follow #TBRVotes on Twitter for up-to-the-minute posts on the election.

Suffolk County Executive
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, a Democrat, was running for re-election against Republican challenger Jim O’Connor. With 1,047 of 1,052 election districts reporting, Bellone was leading 57 percent to 43 percent.

4th Legislative District
Legislator Tom Muratore, a Republican, was looking for a fourth term against absentee Democratic challenger Jonathan D. Rockfeld. With all election districts reporting, Muratore had 74 percent of the vote.

5th Legislative District
Kara Hahn, the Democratic incumbent, was facing off against Republican challenger Donna Cumella. With 53 of 54 election districts reporting, Hahn had 63 percent of the vote to Cumella’s 37 percent.

6th Legislative District
Legislator Sarah Anker (D) faces a challenge from Republican Steve Tricarico, a Brookhaven Town deputy highway superintendent, in her quest for a third term. With all election districts reporting, Anker had 49.99 percent of the vote to Tricarico’s 49.98 percent. They are just one vote apart. Anker described her feelings as “cautiously optimistic.”

12th Legislative District
Leslie Kennedy, a Republican, was largely unopposed for re-election, against absentee Democratic challenger Adam Halpern. With 62 of 63 election districts reporting, Kennedy had 70 percent of the vote.

13th Legislative District
Legislator Rob Trotta (R) was running for another term in the Legislature against a familiar face, Kings Park Democrat Rich Macellaro. With 64 of 65 election districts reporting, Trotta had 71 percent of the vote.

16th Legislative District
Steve Stern, a Democratic legislator, wanted to win his final term in office against Republican attorney Tom McNally. With all election districts reporting, Stern won with 60 percent of the vote to McNally’s 40 percent.

18th Legislative District
Legislator William “Doc” Spencer (D) was vying for a third term against Republican challenger Grant Lally. With all election districts reporting, Spencer won with 56 percent of the vote to Lally’s 44 percent.

Brookhaven Town Supervisor
Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) was running for re-election against Democratic challenger Douglas Dittko. With 294 of 296 election districts reporting, Romaine had 72 percent of the vote.

Brookhaven Town Highway Superintendent
Dan Losquadro, the Republican incumbent, was in a race for another term against Democratic challenger Jason Kontzamanys. With 294 of 296 election districts reporting, Losquadro had 69 percent of the vote.

Brookhaven Town, 1st Council District
Councilwoman Valerie Cartright, a Democrat from Port Jefferson Station, was facing off against Port Jefferson Station civic leader Ed Garboski, a Republican, in the race for town board.
With all election districts reporting, Cartright won with 56 percent of the vote.
She said, “I worked really hard. The community came together.”
If all election results stand, Cartright will be the only Democrat on the town board next year — her one Conservative and four Republican colleagues won re-election and her only Democratic colleague was ousted by a Republican.

Brookhaven Town, 2nd Council District
Jane Bonner, the Conservative councilwoman, was running against an absentee challenger, Democrat Andrew Berger, in her quest for a fifth term on the town board. With 46 of 47 election districts reporting, Bonner had 69 percent of the vote.

Brookhaven Town, 3rd Council District
Kevin LaValle (R) was hoping to win another term as a town councilman against absentee Democratic challenger Christian DeGeorge. With 50 of 51 election districts reporting, LaValle had 74 percent of the vote.

Huntington Town Board
Incumbents Susan Berland (D) and Gene Cook (I) were running for new terms on the town board against Democratic challenger Keith Barrett, the town’s deputy director of general services, and Republican challenger Jennifer Thompson, a Northport school board trustee. In this race, the two candidates with the highest vote counts win seats. With all election districts reporting, Cook was on top with 27 percent of the vote to Berland’s 24 percent, Barrett’s 22 percent and Thompson’s 22 percent. Conservative Michael Helfer had 5 percent of the vote.
Cook said, “I can’t wait till tomorrow. … I felt good throughout today because I’m always honest and I think I’ve shown that in the last four years.”

Smithtown Town Board
Councilmen Bob Creighton and Ed Wehrheim, both Republicans, faced challenges from Republican Lisa Inzerillo, who beat out Creighton in a Republican primary in September, and Democrat Larry Vetter. The two candidates with the most votes win seats on the town board in this race. With all 92 election districts reporting, Wehrheim took the lead with 31 percent of the vote, followed by Inzerillo (28 percent), Vetter (22 percent) and Creighton (20 percent).
Wehrheim, who frequently works with Creighton on town projects, called Inzerillo’s win “a loss for Smithtown” and called his own victory “bittersweet” as he prepared to work with the newcomer.
Vetter said, “The message is clear: The town didn’t want me. … Apparently the town is satisfied with what they have.” Earlier in the night he had said, “If I lose and it’s tight, I might try again. If I get clobbered, I’m not gonna do it again.”

by -
1 957
Suffolk County Legislator Leslie Kennedy is looking for her first re-election on Nov. 3. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Just months removed from a special election that brought her into office, Suffolk County Legislator Leslie Kennedy (R-Nesconset) faces her first re-election bid.

Kennedy was elected to represent the 12th District — which includes Smithtown, Nesconset, Hauppauge, the Village of the Branch, Lake Grove, and parts of Commack, Islandia and Ronkonkoma — in April to succeed her husband, former county legislator and now county Comptroller John Kennedy Jr. (R), and has since placed constituent concerns at the core of her campaign. Her Democratic opponent, Adam Halpern, has not actively campaigned and did not attend a debate at the Times of Smithtown’s headquarters.

In the interview, Kennedy prided herself as being a researcher and a behind-the-scenes government official who wears her heart on her sleeve. While serving on the county’s operating budget committee, she said she takes the county’s finances very seriously and often refers to tax dollars as “OPM” — other peoples’ money.

“I debated hard whether or not to run, but I love government,” she said. “I love the ability to help and serve. There has to be a voice of reason that realizes the enormity of the financial problem we are in.”

With her husband also serving the county as comptroller, Kennedy said she gained perspective on what kinds of things Suffolk could and should do to make money.

“We don’t collect what we should collect,” she said, referring to certain taxes not being actively pursued in areas like hotels, motels or bed and breakfasts. “We need to recoup that money. If we did, we wouldn’t be seeing historical buildings fall, or arts and entertainment budgets being cut.”

The legislator has spent her time pushing for top-tier constituent services while also keeping her ear to the ground when it comes to the county’s business community. She has been attending several Suffolk County Industrial Development Agency meetings since being elected and said she wanted to work to employ tax incentives to draw businesses to the region.

As for quality of life concerns, Kennedy said public safety projects like new sidewalks and infrastructure upgrades were top priorities of hers. She has also identified herself as an environmentalist and backed that up by pushing for projects that aim to clean up the county’s water.

One of her biggest qualms with how county government works, Kennedy said, was an overabundance of management. If re-elected, she said she would advocate for less management and more action.

“We’re top heavy,” she said. “There is more management than necessary. I have never seen so many titles.”

In order to make the county a more vibrant place for young people to grow and raise families, Kennedy said the Legislature needed to act on keeping taxes low and the streets safe. If re-elected, she said she would keep her constituents at the heart of her decision making.

“We have to get our act together,” she said. “It’s sad to watch people have no opportunities. They are struggling to stay in their houses and I don’t think life should be that hard.”

by -
1 995
Kara Hahn photo by Desirée Keegan

By Elana Glowatz

Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn said she wants a third term in office to continue working on protecting public health, while Republican challenger Donna Cumella said she wants to focus on Suffolk County’s finances.

Donna Cumella photo by Desirée Keegan
Donna Cumella photo by Desirée Keegan

Hahn (D-Setauket) has spent much of her two terms in the 5th Legislative District on environmental and public safety issues, crafting a bill that put Narcan, an antidote for opioid overdoses, into the hands of first responders and another that set the gears into motion to ban tiny plastic pellets called microbeads that pollute our water supply, among others. But in a recent debate at the Times Beacon Record Newspapers office, Cumella said while that work is important, the county’s fiscal state is a more pressing issue.

The challenger, a Port Jefferson Station resident, said county officials, in crafting budgets, habitually overstate county revenues and understate expenses, creating a serious deficit.

“Projections far exceeded what the reality was,” she said, referring specifically to county estimates on sales tax revenue.

She said borrowing is “out of control” and called for a smaller government.

But Hahn fought the idea that the county is spiraling.

“Our debt burden is manageable,” she said, adding that Suffolk tends to pay off its debt quickly and legislators always look for ways to decrease borrowing. About the size of government, she noted that the county has been reduced by about 1,200 positions in the last few years.

Kara Hahn photo by Desirée Keegan
Kara Hahn photo by Desirée Keegan

The incumbent also said that a certain amount of debt is unavoidable, because “you can’t pay cash for everything.”

Cumella and Hahn agreed that neighborhood revitalization is important. The Republican emphasized that the county could get help from state and federal grants to push along the projects. The Democrat stressed that the county needs to grow its number of high-paying jobs and said she has an idea to boost the economy by training workers for technology-based positions at Suffolk County Community College.

There were not many other similarities between the two women. One of the ways the candidates stood apart was on their methods for improving the county’s cash flow. Cumella said the county should be sharing more services with other municipalities, specifically local towns, and Hahn said she has been holding meetings on finding new revenue streams, such as penalizing polluters like those who use certain fertilizers on their lawns.

The legislator is looking for another term because she is “deeply committed to making a difference” and there is still work to be done. She has been working on initiatives to raise awareness of chemicals used in dry cleaning, affecting water quality and public health; to make it easier for people to safely get rid of leftover prescription medication; and to change the way the county addresses domestic violence and its victims.

Cumella, on the other hand, spoke against partisanship in the Legislature and said getting the county’s finances in order will help keep young people on Long Island.

“We need to keep our families together,” she said.

Some Suffolk County elected officials are calling the red light safety program a scam. File photo

Five years after red light cameras were installed in Suffolk County, North Shore officials are still examining the program’s effectiveness, as well as its purpose, by asking: Are the cameras a means of enhancing public safety or simply another source of income for the county?

On Tuesday, Oct. 6, Republican Suffolk County Legislators Tom Muratore (Ronkonkoma); Robert Trotta (Fort Salonga); Leslie Kennedy (Nesconset); Tom Cilmi (Bay Shore); Tom Barraga (West Islip) and Kevin McCaffrey (R-Lindenhurst) addressed some of their concerns when they met to discuss potential reforms to the Red Light Safety Program.

The program was written into law in 2009 and installed red light cameras at up to 50 intersections in Suffolk County. The cameras were installed to capture the backs of the drivers’ cars, as opposed to the drivers themselves. Under the program, drivers who run through a red light face a $50 traffic violation but do not receive points against their license.

Prior to the press conference, Muratore said county Republicans were left in the dark regarding details surrounding the program, such as the duration of various lights. While there are three-second and five-second yellow and red lights, Muratore said it was impossible to identify which lights resided where.

Despite this, Muratore said he found the program relatively reasonable. The legislator said he voted in favor of the program, thinking this new technology would help avoid traffic accidents. But what he disagreed with, he said, was the county’s manipulating of administrative fees associated with the program.

“If you’re getting tens of thousands of tickets and you increase the fee by $5.00, you’re getting half a million to a million dollars, maybe more,” Muratore said in an interview. “That’s just money-grabbing right there.”

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) did not respond to requests seeking comment.

After Tuesday’s press conference in Riverhead, Trotta said he thinks the “money-grabbing” surpassed Bellone’s proposal to increase the administrative fee. He said the county has $2 billion worth of debt and claimed the program is nothing but an opportunity to collect money to help offset that.

According to Trotta, if the camera “does not produce 25 tickets in a 16-hour period, then the county has to pay $2,136.”

The money is a fixed monthly fee the county must pay the program’s contractor, Baltimore-based Affiliated Computer Services Inc. According to an amendment to the program, the county must also pay an additional $17.25 for each paid citation generated from such enforcement system.

While public safety is a concern for many county officials, Trotta said he does not think there is a safety issue. Some Suffolk County residents also oppose the cameras, so much so that Stephen Ruth of Centereach used a pole to turn the cameras away from the road at various locations. He was arrested in August for tampering, and some hailed him as a “Red Light Robin Hood.” The defendant called the program “abusive.”

Muratore said the issue is not really people running red lights, but drivers’ timing when turning right on red. He said drivers should not receive a ticket for turning right on red when it is permitted, provided they came to a full stop: “They forget they have to stop and then go. There’s no three second rule or five second rule, it’s a full stop.”

by -
0 1026
Smithtown Republicans endorse Lisa Inzerillo, right, in her bid for the board. From left to right, Councilman Tom McCarthy, Councilwoman Lynne Nowick, Assemblyman Mike Fitzpatrick, Supervisor Pat Vecchio and Suffolk County Legislator Rob Trotta. Photo by Phil Corso

Three of the five members of the Republican-dominated Smithtown Town Board endorsed a political newcomer this week, as she heads into the November election with hopes of unseating an incumbent.

Town Supervisor Pat Vecchio (R) stood beside councilmembers Tom McCarthy (R) and Lynne Nowick (R) on the steps of Town Hall on Monday to publicly endorse Lisa Inzerillo in her bid for the board, flanked also by other Smithtown-based elected officials. Inzerillo was one of two to land the GOP line in next month’s town board election, with 1,388 votes in a primary, alongside incumbent Councilman Ed Wehrheim (R), who received 1,830 votes. But fellow incumbent Councilman Bob Creighton (R) was left on the outskirts with 1,306 votes, forcing him to run on the Conservative, Independent and Reform party lines.

Vecchio emceed the press conference as a means of bringing Republicans together to support members of their own party, but two fellow party members were noticeably absent from the dais.

“On Sept. 10, there was a Republican primary, and Lisa Inzerillo was the winner. She is a Republican and she deserves the support of all Republican elected officials,” Vecchio said. “We as Republicans believe that the party has to support the winner of the Republican primary. To do otherwise is contrary to every tenet of any party, and the bylaws of any party.”

Both McCarthy and Nowick recalled times when they came out of Republican primaries victorious before earning their spots on the board and threw support behind Inzerillo with hopes of seeing her follow a similar path.

“In 1997, I was in a primary also,” McCarthy said. “I was on the outside, basically as a businessman, and it’d be nice to have another person from the outside — a civic-minded person on the board.”

Also throwing their support behind Inzerillo were state Assemblyman Mike Fitzpatrick (R-St. James) and Suffolk County Legislator Rob Trotta (R-Fort Salonga).

Wehrheim, who also won the three-way primary with the most votes of the three, was not included in the endorsement and said in a phone interview he was standing behind his fellow councilman in Creighton, despite the candidate not garnering enough votes to get his name on the Republican line next month.

“[Councilman Creighton] is a colleague and consummate professional. We have an excellent working relationship and I believe he deserves to be elected a third time, based on his record alone,” Wehrheim said. “If they were good Republicans, they would have supported Councilman Creighton [in the primary] as the incumbent Republican official running for re-election. He was chosen by the Republican party.”

Wehrheim and Creighton voted together on some of the town board’s more divisive decisions over the past several years, often being outnumbered 3-2. For that reason, Creighton said he did not expect the supervisor’s support as he sought another term.

“I’m not in any way surprised,” Creighton said. “The supervisor wants and desperately needs one more vote on the town board to make it absolutely Mr. Vecchio’s board.”

Both Creighton’s and Wehrheim’s seats on the board will be up for a vote come November, with the incumbents facing off against Inzerillo and Democrat Larry Vetter, who announced his candidacy earlier this year.

by -
0 1262
Smithtown Councilman Bob Creighton. File photo by Rachel Shapiro

Thursday’s Republican primary in Smithtown saw an incumbent fall to the bottom of the pack in the town board race, but only by a slim margin.

Councilman Bob Creighton (R) came in third out of three candidates seeking the Republican line in November’s general election. The other two, incumbent Councilman Ed Wehrheim (R) and challenger Lisa M. Inzerillo came in first and second, respectively, all but assuring them Republican spots, according to unofficial Suffolk County Board of Elections results.

By Friday morning, Wehrheim had collected 40.49 percent of the vote — 1,673 total votes — and Inzerillo earned 31.27 percent, or 1,292 total votes. Creighton came in close behind Inzerillo with 27.81 percent — 1,149 votes.

Creighton had focused much of his primary bid on development in Smithtown that he said could attract new business to the community. He has served on the Smithtown Town Board since 2008 and has been a longtime ally of Wehrheim, often aligning with him in critical votes put before the board over recent years.

“There are still some 200-odd absentee ballots to count, but I have no illusions about that,” Creighton said. “I lost — period.”

Creighton said he attributed part of the loss to low voter turnout, with just about seven percent of Smithtown Republicans hitting the polls. The councilman also said he had full intentions of still running on the Independent, Conservative and Reform party lines come November, whether or not absentee ballots salvage his primary bid later next week.

Wehrheim has been on the board since 2003 and said in a previous interview that he would like to use another term to work on funding more projects to revitalize Smithtown’s downtown area. In a phone interview, the councilman said torrential downpours throughout the voting hours on Thursday may have had an impact on voter turnout, which was slightly lower than the average primary.

“I am very pleased with my position as number-one in the race, but I do believe the weather certainly had an affect on the voter turnout,” he said. “The board, as of late, is fairly divided, but I have a long tenure with the town and I will continue to do what I’ve always done. I will go in there, and work on behalf of the Smithtown resident.”

Inzerillo, a business owner from Kings Park, focused her campaign on making Smithtown’s downtown business district more vibrant. She declared victory following Thursday’s vote in a statement, looking forward to discussing the town’s most pressing issues.

“This grassroots campaign, fueled by family and friends, has inspired and humbled me and I am ready to represent the Republican Party in November,” she said.

Both Creighton’s and Wehrheim’s seats on the board will be up for a vote come November, with the incumbents facing off against Inzerillo and Democrat Larry Vetter, who announced his candidacy earlier this year. The winners will join incumbents not up for re-election, Supervisor Pat Vecchio, Councilman Tom McCarthy and Councilwoman Lynne Nowick — all Republicans.

Editor’s note: This story was updated to include comments from Councilman Bob Creighton and Councilman Ed Wehrheim.

File photo

Smithtown residents will have some choices to make come November, as two candidates have stepped up to challenge incumbent councilmen Bob Creighton (R) and Ed Wehrheim (R).

Democrat Larry Vetter and Republican Lisa Inzerillo are both running for Smithtown Town Board, but they have differing views on what to do when they get there.

Vetter, 62, said he believes he will bring a new view to Smithtown if elected.

“I look at things from a different perspective,” Vetter said. “I come from a different background.”

Vetter, of Smithtown, comes from the private sector and has owned an environmental consulting firm, Vetter Environmental Science, for the past seven years.

Challenger Lisa Inzerillo (R) is throwing her hat into the race to unseat a Republican incumbent on Smithtown’s Town Board. Photo from the candidate
Challenger Lisa Inzerillo (R) is throwing her hat into the race to unseat a Republican incumbent on Smithtown’s Town Board. Photo from the candidate

Among the biggest issues he said he thinks Smithtown is facing right now is a reinvigoration of the downtown area. Vetter said he wants to find new and innovative ways to find revenue and cut costs, to help fight the brain drain he believes Smithtown is currently experiencing, driving youth out of town.

“I know what it’s like to raise a family and see them leave, it’s disappointing,” he said. “Both of my children have left Long Island and are probably not coming back. Young people are constantly getting educated here and then leaving.”

Vetter said he would work with an industrial development association as other townships have done to retain youth.

Vetter also spoke of tax breaks and different incentives that could be given to businesses that develop in Smithtown.

Lisa Inzerillo, 50, a business owner from Kings Park, is also focusing on the issues of developing a more vital downtown business district.

If elected, Inzerillo said in an email that she plans to “use my influences to require our town planning and development staff to aggressively pursue state and federal grants designed toward revitalizing our downtown areas.”

Inzerillo said her stance on the environment is what sets her apart from her challengers.

“I am the only candidate that wants to protect the environment, green spaces, and quality of life,” she said. “Misguided development, contamination of our environment and abuse of sensible town zoning regulations will be at the top of my agenda.”

Both incumbents Wehrheim and Creighton said they felt that economic growth in the downtown area is key to ensuring that Smithtown continues to prosper.

“We need to ensure that the commercial tax base remains stable or is increasing,” Wehrheim said in a phone interview. “The healthier that is, the better able we are to keep residential taxes stable.”

Larry Vetter (D) is throwing his hat into the race to unseat a Republican incumbent on Smithtown’s Town Board. Photo from the candidate
Larry Vetter (D) is throwing his hat into the race to unseat a Republican incumbent on Smithtown’s Town Board. Photo from the candidate

The redevelopment of the Smith Haven Mall, as well as adding larger stores like Bob’s Discount Furniture to the Smithtown area are all projects that Wehrheim worked on during his last three terms, some with Creighton’s involvement as well.

Wehrheim also said that he intends to use bonding to help fund more projects in the downtown area. If elected, this will be Wehrheim’s fourth term in office.

When speaking on Creighton and himself, Wehrheim said, “I feel that we have a vast amount of government experience in Smithtown government. I believe firmly that our experience and dedication shows we’re the right people to put in office.”

Increased development is something that Creighton said is a perfect example of smart growth, and would encourage new businesses to come into Smithtown.

“We must do something to generate commercial enterprises,” Creighton said. “There are too many empty stores.”

Recently, a proposal to restructure Smithtown’s government has come to the attention of the board. Creighton brought the idea to the board and stressed that while it is still only in the proposal stage, it could lead to more accountability and cooperation in Smithtown’s government.

The restructuring would create four commissioner positions that would each look over approximately five to six department heads. Creighton believes this would be more successful than having all 26 department heads answer to Supervisor Pat Vecchio (R).

Wehrheim supported the proposal of this idea. If elected, this would be Creighton’s third term as councilman. He was elected to office in 2008, and Wehrheim was elected in 2003.

Eight individuals submit petitions to run last week

File photo by Rohma Abbas

A primary election is brewing for the Democratic Party line in the Huntington Town Board race this November, but it won’t happen without a fight.

Last Thursday marked the deadline for candidates running for offices in Huntington Town to file necessary signature petitions with the Suffolk County Board of Elections. And already, the validity of some of those petitions has been challenged in the form of general objections. General objections reserve a candidate’s right to file specifications of objections at a later date — and this year, that date is July 20.

With two open seats on the board, and four Democrats seeking the ballot line, a primary is pending if the contenders whose petitions are being challenged emerge unscathed. Objections to signature petitions can include claims challenging the validity of the signatures, the validity of a person carrying the petition and other issues, according to Nick LaLota, the Republican Suffolk County Board of Elections commissioner.

Incumbent Susan Berland (D) and her running mate Keith Barrett (D), who is the town’s deputy director of General Services and president of the Huntington Station Business Improvement District, are endorsed by the Huntington Town Democratic Committee to run for the board. Democrat contenders Andrew Merola, of Huntington Station, and former longtime Highway Superintendent William Naughton — who are not endorsed by the committee — face general objections by a number of individuals, according to a document provided by LaLota.

Earlier this week, Berland said the Democratic Party in Huntington is united, despite a potential four-way race for the line.

“The rank and file of the Democratic Party is clearly behind myself and Keith Barrett,” she said. “That can be [evident] from the collecting of signatures. All of mine and Keith’s signatures were collected by Democratic Committee people. The other two can’t say the same.”

When reached on Tuesday, Merola, a business account manager at Verizon, said he’s been notified of getting a general objection to his petition, he realizes it’s part of the standard protocol of election and he’s waiting on more specifics about the objection. He said he stands by his petition and won’t be challenging others on their petitions.

“I’m not interested in playing those kinds of political games,” he said. “It shouldn’t be about who has the best lawyers. It should be about who has the best ideas.”

Candidates for Town Board on other party lines are also facing objections. Incumbent Gene Cook (I) is being challenged by two objections and Charles Marino, an East Northport man, who is vying for the Working Families Party line, is facing a string of objections as well. Berland and Barrett are also vying for the line.

In total, eight individuals are attempting to run for the two open seats on the Town Board — Berland, Cook, Barrett, Merola, Naughton, Northport-East Northport school board Trustee Jennifer Thompson, Huntington Station resident Michael Helfer and Marino.

Election day is Tuesday, Nov. 3.

Victoria Espinoza contributed reporting.