Update: Wooten doesn’t have Walter’s vote for tax receiver

06/06/2012 8:02 PM |

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Sean Walter and James Wooten after a meeting in Wading River last April, when Wooten was considering a run for Walter's supervisor post.

Town Councilman James Wooten said he is seeking an appointment to a soon-to-be vacant town tax receiver post, but Supervisor Sean Walter said he would not support his fellow Town Board member in his bid to resign and take the full-time job.

“He’s not on my short list,” Mr. Walter said. “To be a tax receiver it’s a full time job, you gotta commit 35-40 hours a week. I don’t know that Councilman Wooten is able to do that.”

“He’s a Town Councilman,” he continued. “We need him as Town Councilman.”

The tax receiver post will be vacant as of July 1 due to the retirement of Maryann Wowak Heilbrunn, who has worked in the position for the past 10 years, which we first reported earlier Wednesday.

Mr. Wooten, in an interview Wednesday afternoon, said he was being considered for the position and said the position “totally fits my personality.”

He also said the job would give him more time to spend with his family and with his volunteer work. He was unable to be reached Wednesday evening for a response to Mr. Walter’s comments.

Mr. Walter said he was told about the retirement on Monday and that the Town Board hasn’t considered any candidates for the position yet.

“This is a very detail-oriented position, not a policy position,” he said. Mr. Walter said that if he were to choose a Town Councilperson, it would be Councilwoman Jodi Giglio, though he said he is sure she would not be interested in the position.

Whoever is appointed to fill Ms. Wowak Heilbrunn’s position will have to run in a special election this fall. If Mr. Wooten, or any other Councilperson, was appointed to the position, their seat would also be up for election in November.

Mr. Walter and Mr. Wooten have been on-again off-again political rivals since Mr. Wooten briefly attempted to run against Mr. Walter in last year’s Town Supervisor primary election. Mr. Wooten eventually dropped his bid for Supervisor; he is currently serving the first year of his second four-year term as Town Council.

Councilman George Gabrielsen said it was too early in the process for him to say who he would potentially support for the open job.

“I think it’s premature right now to say that anyone’s got a leg up on it,” he said, adding that he would also have to consider who would take Mr. Wooten’s place on the Town Board.

“If I make a decision, I want to make sure we’re getting the right people for the right positions,” he said. Mr. Gabrielsen said the Town Board will likely discuss the issue over the next couple of days and he hopes a decision will be reached by the end of next week.

Councilwoman Jodi Giglio and Councilman John Dunleavy were unable to be reached for comment Wednesday evening.

psquire@timesreview.com