Two elected Republican officials will face off against one another in the Sept. 12 primary to see who will get the party line in this November’s election for Smithtown town supervisor.
Incumbent town Supervisor Patrick Vecchio (R) is being challenged by Councilman Ed Wehrheim (R) who received the Smithtown Republican Committee’s official nomination at the party’s convention May 30.
Vecchio, 87, is the longest-presiding town supervisor in the history of New York state. First elected in 1977, he announced his intention to seek re-election to his 14th term in May.
“For 40 years I’ve stood on these steps to be sworn in [and] you may be wondering why,” Vecchio said in May. “I do it because I love to help people and truly love what I do, and each day that I go to work has been a pleasure. [Sure], there have been times I’ve thrown the phone book on the floor and slammed the telephone down, but I still love what I do and want to continue working with these people to make this the best town, not only in Suffolk County but maybe in New York state.”
Under Vecchio’s leadership, Smithtown stands as one of the most fiscally stable municipalities in the county with a triple-A bond rating. There was no tax increase on residents in 2017, and it’s predicted that there won’t be a tax hike in 2018 either.
The Town of Smithtown was also the first municipality in the state to pass the Local Waterfront Revitalization Program, giving credit to Vecchio’s environmental record. The supervisor has also passed several initiatives to provide affordable housing for senior citizens.
Wehrheim has served on the town board since April 2003 when he was first appointed by Vecchio to fill the seat left by state Assemblyman Mike Fitzpatrick (R-St. James). He now seeks to unseat the man who appointed him.
“I believe people are ready for a new beginning, and that’s across the gamut,” Wehrheim said.
The councilman has served as the director of parks, building and grounds in the Town of Smithtown managing an $8 million budget and frequently works with other departments.
However, he said over the last eight-to-10 years he’s seen a gradual deterioration of the parks and community spaces within the town.
“We need to begin to levy our triple-A bond rating and low debt to begin to upgrade our parks and recreational facilities,” Wehrheim said.
If elected supervisor, his other goals including bringing greater transparency to town government and the implementation of a business advisory council to aid in the creation of new development plans. Much of this, Wehrheim said could be possible with recent state funding given to the town.
“We need an energetic, full-time town board to begin to wisely use that money to improve Smithtown wisely,” he said.
Polls will be open for Sept. 12 primaries, 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Town of Smithtown residents are eligible to vote in the supervisor race if a registered Republican, are at least 18 years old, have lived at the current address at least 30 days before the election, and not been in prison or on parole for a felony conviction.
To double check if you are registered to vote, check on the state’s website at voterlookup.elections.state.ny.us/votersearch.aspx.