Zaneski wins special election for tax receiver

11/06/2012 11:40 PM |

TIM GANNON PHOTO | Riverhead tax receiver Laurie Zaneski hugs her deputy, Cori Fife, on election night.

In the race for Riverhead tax receiver, Republican incumbent Laurie Zaneski was easily elected to the post Tuesday night, defeating Democrat Robert Gottschalk by an unofficial vote of 6,188 to 1,900, although neither of them appeared on the ballot with major party backing.

Because both parties missed the deadline for petitions for major party candidates due to the unexpected resignation of longtime tax receiver MaryAnn Heilbrunn, Ms. Zaneski ended up on the ballot as the Riverhead Taxpayers First party candidate and Mr. Gottschalk had the Taxpayers Unite line, since minor parties have more time to file nominating petitions.

Ms. Zaneski had been the deputy tax receiver, an appointed position, for eight years and was nominated by the Republicans to run for Ms. Heilbrunn’s seat. It was her first run for an elected office.

“It was exciting and exhausting,” she said after the vote, which saw her gain 76 percent of the vote. “I’m still a little overwhelmed. But now we can push forward and keep doing what we’re doing.”

She was overheard saying “I’m so glad it’s over,” as she hugged a relative Tuesday night at her home in Aquebogue, where friends and relatives gathered to watch the results.

Town Republican leaders were in Patchogue, watching the Congressional race results.

Over in Democratic headquarters, at the Polish Town Civic Association headquarters, it was apparent early that Mr. Gottschalk, a former town assessor, was trailing by a large margin.

“It doesn’t look good,” he said, as he watched his cellphone.

Afterwards, when told how far behind he was, he joked, “I’m moving to Brookhaven.”

Riverhead Republican chairman John Galla said Republicans made about 1,000 “robocalls” earlier in the day in support of Ms. Zaneski. He said he was worried about the fact that the minor party line she ran on was at the bottom of the ballot.

Ms. Zaneski was elected to fill the remaining three years of Ms. Heilbrunn’s term. Ms. Heilbrunn had been reelected to a four year term last year and decided in mid-year to step down.

 tgannon@timesreview.com