The old bank robber Willy Sutton, protesting his innocence when caught red-handed, once said, “Are you going to believe me or your own eyes?”
I get that same feeling when I read Phil Cardinale’s weekly rants that attempt to rewrite history and malign my record as Riverhead Town supervisor. Each week, Mr. Cardinale pens an angry column that out and out bends the truth to the breaking point. Frankly, this tactic has gotten tiresome to the point where I don’t even feel like responding to his silly charges, but to allow a lie to go unchallenged would only make people believe the lie.
The fact of the matter is in 2004, when Phil Cardinale became supervisor, downtown was filled to the brim with stores like Sears, Discount Auto, Fauna, the grocery, East Enders coffee, the New York State Department of Labor building, Bagel Lovers, Crave Computer, West Marine and others. Those stores are all gone. Under Mr. Cardinale, downtown Riverhead never saw a new store open.
The fact of the matter is at the EPCAL property, during the greatest real estate market Long Island has ever seen, Mr. Cardinale never sold even one acre of land at the former Grumman property. His vision for economic growth was a ski mountain to be built by an unknown Scottish developer.
The fact of the matter is Mr. Cardinale personally signed more than $40 million dollars worth of checks to fund a landfill run amok in the biggest boondoggle project this town has ever seen. Mr. Cardinale’s signature is in the lower right-hand corner of every check.
Finally, the fact of the matter is that despite Mr. Cardinale’s Jack Benny routine about how frugal he is, town spending increased on average of 7.24 percent each year he was supervisor. I have prepared two budgets, and town spending increased on average .65 percent in my budgets — less than 1 percent.
You see, Mr. Cardinale has nothing he can point to to support why he should return to Town Hall. Like a lost wanderer in a corn maze, every time Mr. Cardinale attempts to talk about an issue like downtown, or town finances, or economic development, he bumps up against his own record. The Cardinale years were not years of accomplishment. We had a great national economy during the Cardinale years. Those should have been the best of times for Riverhead. They weren’t.
So Mr. Cardinale huffs and puffs and gets louder and louder because in politics, if you have nothing to say you just keep saying nothing louder. Mr. Cardinale gets frustrated and angry. Mr. Cardinale rewrites the facts and he runs from his record. I believe that we cannot build this town up by tearing each other down. We cannot build Riverhead’s future by screaming. We build it by listening and caring.
My campaign slogan is “Positively Riverhead,” and the reason I selected that theme is that I see good things happening in town. I see a downtown with new shops and restaurants and events and concerts. I see a new Suffolk Theatre and a new Hyatt. I see budgets that return us to fiscal sanity, I see a new course for EPCAL, I see a town that is striking the proper balance between creating tax base and preserving our rural heritage, and in the greatness of our people I know we will create a new Riverhead, a special place that we will be proud to pass on to our children.
I’ll let Mr. Cardinale bluster. I will stay positive about Riverhead.
Sean Walter, a Republican, is Riverhead Town supervisor and is seeking his second term in office. He is being challenged by former Democratic supervisor Phil Cardinale of Jamesport. Mr. Walter lives in Wading River.