Riverhead Dems tap former assessor for tax receiver run

08/14/2012 2:55 PM |

ROBERT GOTTSCHALK

Days after Riverhead Republicans picked Laurie Zaneski as their candidate for tax receiver in this November’s special election, the Democrats on Monday tapped former assessor Robert Gottschalk of Wading River to run against her.

Except it won’t Republican vs. Democrats on the ballot.

That’s because both town parties missed the July 12 deadline for constituted parties to get their nominating petitions in.

The seat they are seeking to fill was vacated by longtime tax receiver Mary Ann Heilbrunn, who resigned June 30.

Had she resigned on July 6 or later, the parties would have been able to get a certificate of nomination to put someone on the ballot without petitions.

But since they didn’t meet that deadline, both parties have developed independent lines to run their candidates on, since independent party petitions have until Aug. 21.

So the Republican candidate, Ms. Zaneski, will be running on the the “Riverhead Taxpayers First” line and the Democrat, Mr. Gottschalk, a former town assessor, will be running on the “Riverhead Taxpayers United” line.

Mr. Gottschalk, 56, was appointed to a one-year term as town assessor in 1998 after Leroy Barnes resigned but lost the following election to Paul Leszcynski. He also unsuccessfully ran for assessor in 2007.

Mr. Gottschalk has lived in Wading River for more than 30 years, and has a background in computers, accounting and real estate.  He’s also worked for many years as a business representative and fund administrator for a projectionists’ union.

He’s also a former president of the Polish Town Civic Association and a member of the Wading River Civic Association. he also served as chairman of the Riverhead Democratic committee in 1994 and 1995.

“He’s a tremendous candidate,” said Riverhead Democratic Committee chairman Vinny Villella. “He was a great assessor and he’ll be a great receiver of taxes.”

tgannon@timesreview.com