08/13/13 5:24pm
08/13/2013 5:24 PM
NEWS-REVIEW FILE PHOTOS | Riverhead Town Councilwoman Jodi Giglio is currently engaged in a bitter primary battle with Anthony Coates.

NEWS-REVIEW FILE PHOTOS | Riverhead Town Councilwoman Jodi Giglio has currently raised more money than primary challenger Anthony Coates.

Republican Riverhead Councilwoman Jodi Giglio is far ahead of running mate John Dunleavy and primary challenger Anthony Coates in terms of money raised and money spent in this year’s campaign, according to the latest Board of Elections disclosure reports.

The reports also show that Riverhead Town Democratic Committee has now raised more money than its Republican counterpart as of the latest filing period for this year.

Also, Democratic supervisor candidate Angela DeVito has raised nearly as much money as incumbent Republican Supervisor Sean Walter, despite the fact that Mr. Walter ran a separate campaign for Suffolk County legislator earlier in the year.

The Board of Elections requires all fundraising committees to file campaign disclosure reports in January and July, but also requires candidates involved in a primary or a general election to file additional reports, including a 32-day pre-primary report that was due Friday.

In Riverhead Town, there is a Democratic primary for supervisor between party nominee Angela DeVito and challenger Ann Cotten DeGrasse, as well as a Republican primary for two council seats that pits party nominees Jodi Giglio and John Dunleavy against challenger Anthony Coates, who has specifically targeted Ms. Giglio in his campaign.

There’s also a council primary for the Independence party nominations in Riverhead, pitting Ms. Giglio and Mr. Dunleavy against Bill Bianchi, a Democratic nominee.

The other Democratic council candidate, Millie Thomas, is not running in the Independence Party primary.

In the Democratic race for supervisor, Ms. DeVito, to date, has raised $21,509 and spent $13,764, with $7,735 left on hand. Her biggest contribution was $1,000 from the Ironworkers Political Action League.

Ms. Cotten-DeGrasse has raised $6,588 and spent $3,920, according to the most recent campaign finance reports. For the year, she’s raised $8,353 and spent $6,422, and ended the most recent filing period with $3,929 on hand.

Mr. Walter didn’t have to submit a pre-primary report since he’s not involved in a primary, but he has raised a total of $26,452 and spent $19,964 so far this year, with much of that being raised when he was running a special election for county Legislature earlier this year.

The Riverhead Town Democratic Committee had not yet posted a pre-primary report on the state BOE website but, to date, per the July filing, the Democrats had raised a total of $25,686 and spent $15,344 this year. The committee shows a balance of $15,550.

By comparison, the Riverhead Republican Committee had raised $5,950 and spent $7,172 through the July filing and the end balance showed them in debt to the tune of $4,102. The Republicans filed a “no action” notice in the pre-primary report, indicating that they had neither raised nor spent any money since the July filing date.

“I think it’s obvious that people want to change this Town Board this year and are supporting us,” said Riverhead Democratic chair Marge Acevedo.

Neither Mr. Bianchi nor Ms. Thomas have set up campaign fundraising committees yet.

The primary vote date is Sept. 10.

In the Republican race for two town council seat nominations, Ms. Giglio’s latest reports show her raising $14,760 more and spending $12,780 more since the prior reports in July.

Adding up the totals from the January and July filings, she has raised a total of $54,824 and spent $49,317. She started in January with $6,066, giving her a closing balance of $11,571, according to the report.

Ms. Giglio reported $4,542 in unspecified contributions in her latest report. Contributions of less than $100, such as those from people who attend fundraisers with a ticket price under $100, do not have to be listed by name.

Her biggest contributors named in the latest report are Phyllis Chulpsa of Smithtown and Composite Technologies of Calverton, each of which contributed $1,000.

Ms. Giglio’s campaign expenses show payments for fundraising events of $900 and $5,740 to Strategic Maneuvers and $1,500 to Third Rock, both of which have the same address as the Outer Banks Restaurant, which Ms. Giglio’s husband runs at the county’s Indian Island Country Club.

Mr. Dunleavy’s 32-day pre-primary report lists only $2,683 in additional contributions and $6,572 in additional expenses. For the year, including numbers from the prior reports, Mr. Dunleavy has raised $38,613 and spent $25,187. His campaign still has a balance $9,647 on hand.

His biggest contribution in the recent report was $1,000 from Randy Altschuler of St. James, who twice ran unsuccessfully for Congress on the Republican line against incumbent Democrat Tim Bishop.

Mr. Dunleavy also received $808 from Rudy Saviano Inc., of Ronkonkoma, which does fundraising auctions.

And Mr. Coates’ latest disclosure report shows only $1,000 more in contributions and $492 more in spending. The entire $1,000 came from Ron DeVito, who is seeking to build an assisted living facility on Mill Road.

Adding up all the reports, Mr. Coates has raised $6,275 and spent $5,336, although he started the year with $2,512, having raised $2,708 at fundraisers in late 2012. He still had $3,449 on hand at the end of the most recent filing period.

Mr. Coates’ expenses showed charges of $61 for “gas for petition travel” and $29 and $11 for “meal for petitioner.” In past reports, he has listed his cell phone costs as a campaign expense.

tgannon@timesreview.com

08/12/13 12:20pm
08/12/2013 12:20 PM
NEWS-REVIEW FILE PHOTOS | Ann Cotten-DeGrasse and Angela DeVito

NEWS-REVIEW FILE PHOTOS | Ann Cotten-DeGrasse and Angela DeVito

There will be a Democratic primary for Riverhead Town supervisor between party designee Angela DeVito and challenger Ann Cotten-DeGrasse.

The Suffolk County Board of Elections on Friday failed to have unanimous support between its two commissioners for the challenge to Ms. DeGrasse’s nominating petitions and because of this, the petition is deemed valid.

Suffolk County Democratic Commissioner Anita Katz supported the challenge, while Republican Commissioner Wayne Rogers did not. In order for a challenge to be valid, both commissioners must agree.

Ms. DeGrasse’s petitions were challenged by three registered Democrats in town, largely on the issue of her address, which she listed as 8 Legend Lane in Jamesport. The town several years ago changed her house number to 37 for the e-911 emergency system, and people in Jamesport who get mail delivered to their houses get mail from the Riverhead Post Office, not the Jamesport one, so challengers stated her address should have been listed as Riverhead, not Jamesport.

Michael Panchak

Michael Panchak

Meanwhile, Michael Panchak, who was the Republican party nominee for highway superintendent, is officially off the ballot on that line, according to county officials.

He did not challenge a court ruling bumping him from the ballot within the allotted three days, officials said.

Mr. Panchak is a registered “blank,” meaning he has no political party affiliation, and as such, he needed a certificate of authorization from the county Republican leadership in order to appear on the Republican ballot, and he did not have their certificate.

Mr. Panchak will still appear on the Conservation line, and said he plans to run an active campaign.

tgannon@timesreview.com

07/31/13 12:00pm
07/31/2013 12:00 PM

The Riverhead News-Review and RiverheadLOCAL.com are partnering with the Suffolk Theater to host a pair of Riverhead Town debates this election season.

The first event will be held Monday, Aug. 26, in advance of the Sept. 10 Republican primary for town council and the Democratic primary for town supervisor. All five candidates vying for the two posts have accepted an invitation to participate in the debate. The second debate will be held Thursday, Oct. 24, before the Nov. 5 general election.

“We’re very excited to be working together to bring these debates to the public,” said Times/Review Newsgroup executive editor Grant Parpan. “Given the current political climate in this town, there’s no doubt these events will be good shows worthy of the theater’s grand stage.”

Both debates will be moderated by Mr. Parpan, RiverheadLOCAL editor and publisher Denise Civiletti and News-Review editor Michael White.

“Riverhead is at a crossroads,” Ms. Civiletti said. “The next town board will be making crucial decisions that will affect our future for generations to come. Voters need to know where the candidates stand on important local issues.”

The Aug. 26 debate will feature Democratic supervisor candidates Ann Cotten-DeGrasse and Angela Devito, followed by Republican town council candidates Anthony Coates, John Dunleavy and Jodi Giglio,

All questions for the debates will be written in advance by the three moderators and the candidates will be given time to make closing statements. Readers can submit questions in advance to denise@riverheadlocal.com or mwhite@timesreview.com.

The events are scheduled for 7 p.m. and the theater will offer beverage service before and after the debates. The bar will open at 5 p.m.

Admission to the debates will be $5; all proceeds will be donated to a local charity.

07/30/13 12:08pm
07/30/2013 12:08 PM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Just two petitions have been challenged in Riverhead Town this election season.

Only Ann Cotten-DeGrasse, who is running a Democratic primary for Riverhead Town supervisor, and Mike Panchak, the Riverhead Republican Committee’s candidate for highway superintendent, have had specific objections filed against their nominating petitions for this fall’s town elections.

Since the deadline for filing objections has passed, that means there will be a Republican primary for Town Council in September, with Anthony Coates challenging committee nominees John Dunleavy and Jodi Giglio.

The challenge against Mr. Panchak came from Keisha Washington Dean, who is a member of the Riverhead Town Democratic Committee.

Ms. Dean claimed that since Mr. Panchak is not a registered Republican, he requires a certificate of authorization from the Republican leadership, and failed to get that certificate, sometimes called a “Wilson Pakula,” by the July 15 deadline.

“It’s still in the hands of the Board of Elections,” Mr. Panchak said.

He said he plans to run whether he’s on the Republican line or not because he’s still going to be on the Conservative line and no challenges were filed on his position there.

Mr. Panchak, who is challenging incumbent Democrat George ‘Gio’ Woodson, is not registered with a political party, and is listed as a “blank” by the Board of Elections.

“We missed the filing period to give him a Wilson Pakula,” said Republican vice chairman Mason Haas of Mr. Panchak. “Normally we would have caught this mistake. However, the distractions of late has unfortunately caused us to have missed the filing deadline for the Wilson Pakula and Mr. Panchak may be a casualty of that.

Ms. Cotten-DeGrasse, whose name appears on the ballot as Ellen A. Cotten-DeGrasse, filed 429 signatures, and three different people filed objections to them, including Ms. Washington Dean. Maxine Kleedorfer of Baiting Hollow also challenged all of Ms. Cotten’s petitions on the grounds that she listed her address incorrectly.  Jeanne Luboja of South Jamesport is the third person to file petitions against Ms. Cotten-DeGrasse.

Ms. Cotten-DeGrasse, who is challenging Democratic party nominee for Angela DeVito for supervisor, listed her address as 8 Legend Lane in Jamesport, although the town changed her address to 37 Legend Lane for the e-911 emergency phone system. In addition, since she gets mail delivered to a mailbox, her mailing address should be Legend Lane in Riverhead, since the Jamesport Post Office doesn’t deliver to mailboxes in front of homes.

The Board of Elections will rule on both cases in the coming weeks.

Mr. Coates said he filed general objections to the Republican petitions, through his girlfriend, Cleo Beletsis, but decided not to file specific objections because it would be too much of a distraction.

tgannon@timesreview.com

07/24/13 12:48pm
07/24/2013 12:48 PM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Town supervisor hopeful Ann Cotten-Degrasse at a Riverhead Board of Education meeting in May.

Three challenges have been filed to the nominating petitions of Ann Cotten-DeGrasse, who is opposing party nominee Angela DeVito for the Riverhead Democratic party’s supervisor nomination in a Sept. 10 primary.

Ms. Cotten-DeGrasse filed petitions with 429 signatures, and said she received a package in the mail on Tuesday notifying her that one person had challenged 186 of those signatures for various reasons, while two other people challenged all of her petitions on a residency issue.

The Board of Elections will rule on the challenges in the coming weeks, said Ms. Cotten-DeGrasse, who added that she has to respond to the challenges by Thursday.

“It appears to me that I am being denied my right to run for election by petty actions which restrict, if not confound, the Democratic process,” Ms. Cotten-DeGrasse said. “Why does my opponent fear a primary election, which would allow the registered Democratic voters to decide on their candidate?”

One of the objections was filed by Keisha Washington Dean,  a member of the Demcoratic committee working on Ms. DeVito’s campaign.

Ms. DeVito said she did not initiate the challenges to her opponent’s petitions, but she supports people’s rights to do so.

“I think that just the same as every individual has the right to carry petitions for a candidate, citizens retain the right to file objections to those petitions,” Ms. DeVito said Wednesday.

She said Ms. Cotten-DeGrasse should have been aware of the rules.

“Whoever’s giving her advice is giving her advice that’s not correct,” she said.

Ms. Cotten DeGrasse listed her address as 8 Legend Lane in Jamesport, an address she’s used for 30 years.

But she said the town changed her house address to 37 Legend Lane for the e911 program several years ago, and since she has a mailbox, her mailing address is from the Riverhead 11901 zip code, rather than the Jamesport 11947 zip code.

That’s because Jamesport doesn’t do mail delivery to mailboxes, and only has post office boxes. People in Jamesport who get their mail delivered to a mail box, such as Ms. Cotten-DeGrasse, get their mail from the Riverhead Post Office.

She said she uses the 37 Legend Lane address on bills and credit cards because it became a problem with deliveries, but she never thought to change the address on her voter registration.

Ms. Cotten-DeGrasse said it’s ironic that the package from the Board of Elections was mailed to her home and got there with no problem.

She said hers is the only home on Legend Lane with a mailbox.

tgannon@timesreview.com

05/24/13 3:29pm
05/24/2013 3:29 PM
NEWS-REVIEW FILE PHOTOS | Ann Cotten-DeGrasse and Angela DeVito

NEWS-REVIEW FILE PHOTOS | Ann Cotten-DeGrasse and Angela DeVito

After being passed over by the Riverhead Democratic Committee in her bid for a supervisor nomination Thursday night, Riverhead school board president Ann Cotten-DeGrasse said she will be running a primary against nominee Angela DeVito.

And she likes her chances.

Ms. Cotten-DeGrasse, a former Riverhead School District teacher and union leader, is also the founder and a past president of the North Fork Breast Health Coalition advocacy group.

“I’ve met a whole lot of people [in Riverhead], many of whom I’ve taught in the school district, so I’ve got a pretty good base,” she said. “Between that and the breast cancer coalition, I’m not too worried about how I’m going to fare in this primary.”

She was also the leading vote-getter in her re-election to the Riverhead school board in 2011, with 1,960 votes.

Reached Friday, Ms. DeVito said she didn’t think a primary would be too much of a distraction in the run-up to Election Day.

“I don’t think it’s going to put me off course in focusing on the target, which is Nov. 5,” she said. “I look at it as an opportunity for the people of Riverhead to vote for me twice.

“I respect Ann Cotten-DeGrasse greatly, she is right when she says she’s made a contribution to our community,” Ms. DeVito continued. “I, too, have made an equal contribution. I had hoped that last evening, when she saw the tremendous support I got from within the committee, she would have re-thought it.

“If the vote last night would have been close, then pursuing a primary would have made more sense.”

Ms. DeVito is a member and former president of the Jamesport-South Jamesport Civic Association and is retired from her position as director of workforce development with the Long Island Building Trades Council.

She served on the Riverhead school board from 2006 to 2011 and was board president in the 2009-10 school year.

She announced she would step down from the school board in 2011, a year before her term was set to end, during a public debate with Ms. Cotten-DeGrasse during a meeting.

On Friday, Ms. Cotten-DeGrasse said she had fully committed to run a primary before Thursday night’s convention.

“I didn’t go to the convention last night with the idea that I was going to overturn the screening committee’s recommendation [in Ms. Devito],” she said.

Ms. Cotten DeGrasse got only about 10 percent of the committee’s support for the nomination.

Between the two women, Ms. DeVito was the first to announce publicly she would run for supervisor, something Ms. DeGrasse said might have hurt her chances.

“I came late to the dance,” Ms. Cotten DeGrasse said. “I had really been thinking about this for about a year.”

She had been going back and forth on whether to run for supervisor, she said, when she was approached from people within the committee to run and finally decided to do so.

As for Ms. DeVito, she, too, had said she would not rule out running a primary if she didn’t get the nomination Thursday night.

But, she said, an overwhelming defeat at the convention might have changed her mind.

“It does create a distraction,” she said. “It weakens the party’s chances, but it is her right to do that, and I respect the process.” 

mwhite@timesreview.com

05/23/13 9:28pm

NEWS-REVIEW FILE PHOTO | Riverhead Town Board members (from left) Jim Wooten, John Dunleavy, Supervisor Sean Walter, Jodi Giglio and George Gabrielsen.

Riverhead Town Republicans and Democrats both hosted their nominating conventions in Polish Thursday night. Read a recap of our live reports below:

04/16/13 4:56pm
04/16/2013 4:56 PM

VERA CHINESE FILE PHOTO | Riverhead school board president Anne Cotten-Degrasse is considering a run for Riverhead Town Supervisor.

While the Riverhead Republicans appear to have some high profile internal battles for Town Board seats awaiting them this election season, the town Democrats are taking a more low-key approach.

The committee is just beginning to set up a schedule now to screen potential candidates.

“Our screening committee will be meeting tomorrow night to set up a schedule for next week,” said Riverhead Democratic Committee chairwoman Marge Acevedo. “We have had about six people that have expressed a desire to screen. So far we have three for supervisor and three for council. Our screening committee has always had a policy that we do not give out names, if the candidates wish to do so that is up to them.”

So far, a few names have gotten out.

Angela DeVito, a former president of the Riverhead school board, announced in March she would seek the Democratic nomination for supervisor, and Ann Cotton-DeGrasse, the current president of the Riverhead school board, confirmed this week that she would also seek to the screened by the Democrats for supervisor.

Ms. Cotton-DeGrasse said she had hoped to keep her intentions quiets until after the screening, but it was leaked at an event over the weekend.

Also seeking to screen with both the Democrats and the Republicans is Greg Fischer of Calverton, who announced his intention to screen with both parties for a Town Board seat but did not specify if he would be seeking a supervisor or council seat.

Mr. Fischer ran a Democratic Primary for council in 2007 and for supervisor in 2011, when he also remained on the ballot on an independent line. He has been calling for elected trustees at the Long Island Power Authority, and has gone to court in an attempt to force that change.

Aside from her work on the school board, Angela DeVito is a retired director of workforce development with the Long Island Building Trades Council, and is active in the Jamesport-South Jamesport Civic Association, the Riverhead Democratic Committee and has sat on the town’s Industrial Development Agency board.

“I have many, many years of public sector service that I think will serve the citizens of this town better,” she said last month.

Ms. Cotton-DeGrasse is a retired teacher of 32 years who served as president of the Riverhead Central Faculty Association, the union serving district teachers, for five years. She and her husband, Antonio DeGrasse, also founded the North Fork Breast Health Coalition in 1998, and Ms. Cotton-DeGrasse served as president of that organization for eight years.

“I’ve never known when to quit,” Ms. Cotton-DeGrasse said. “I think I have a lot to offer. I certainly know how to get peep to work together.”

The Republicans held their first screening session Wednesday night, after press time.

tgannon@timesreview.com