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Top Stories 2015: Walter, Wooten hold onto their seats

12/26/2015 12:00 PM |

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The Riverhead Town elections in 2015 had the potential of a year of great change. A sitting councilwoman challenged the sitting supervisor — both from the same party — and the supervisor’s former campaign advisor also challenged him, but on a different party.

The election also saw an incumbent Republican councilman not seek reelection, while another was passed over by his own party. In total, the door opened for three fresh faces to eventually come onto the Town Board.

But when it was over, there was only one change in the makeup of an all-Republican Town Board that has been the same since 2010, with retired police officer Tim Hubbard taking the council seat that incumbent Councilman George Gabrielsen opted not to seek reelection for.

Supervisor Sean Walter may have been the first Riverhead candidate to win a general election without the backing of the Republican or Democratic party when he defeated party nominee and Councilwoman Jodi Giglio, winning with just Conservative Party backing.

“This has been a tough race,” said the supervisor, a former Conservative Party chairman, on Election Night. After thanking God, Mr. Walter said, “He put me through the paces on this one and I’m not gonna tell you I wasn’t curled up on the couch after that primary.”

Ms. Giglio was the party’s nominee for supervisor and had narrowly defeated Mr. Walter in a Republican primary. She also outspent him in the campaign, but Mr. Walter used that against her, claiming a Suffolk County police union was financing her campaign — in addition to using a Super PAC to try and take him out of office — because she agreed to turn the Riverhead Police over to the Suffolk County Police jurisdiction if she won. Both Mr. Giglio and the head of the Suffolk Police Benevolent Association denied the accusation.

Councilman Jim Wooten also didn’t get the Republican nomination for reelection, but ran a primary and still won a spot on the November ballot.

PHOTO CREDIT: Barbaraellen Koch

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