11/03/13 8:01am
11/03/2013 8:01 AM
Albie DeKerillis and Al Krupski

Albie DeKerillis and Al Krupski

COUNTY LEGISLATURE
Two-year term, part-time
Salary: $96,958

ALBIE DeKERILLIS

Hamlet: East Marion

Occupation: Maintenance

Party line: Republican

About him: Mr. DeKerillis, 46, graduated from culinary school and served in the U.S. Army before continuing to serve in various roles on the North Fork. He has served on the Orient/East Marion Parks District as commissioner, chairman and treasurer and currently volunteers as an EMT in Greenport. He ran unsuccessfully for Town Board in 2009.

His pitch: Mr. DeKerillis says he is running for office because he wants to help county government get a handle on taxes, create jobs and protect open space and farmland. Diverse opinions can lead to new ideas, he says, and a fresh look at what can be done.

In his words: “When you elect me to represent you, I will do the absolute best of my ability, and work day and night to prevent what is now happening in Washington from ever happening in Suffolk County.”

 

AL KRUPSKI

Hamlet: Cutchogue

Occupation: Farmer

Party lines: Democratic, Independence, Conservative

About him: Mr. Krupski, 53, is a fourth-generation farmer who was born and raised in Cutchogue. He was first elected to office in 1985 as a Southold Town Trustee, a position he held for 20 years, the last 14 as chairman. In 2005, he was elected to the Southold Town Board and served for seven years. He was elected to the Suffolk County Legislature in January of this year in a special election.

His pitch: Thirty years ago, when he was first asked to run for Town Trustee, Mr. Krupski recalls having no experience at all politically, being born and raised on a farm. But that farm experience, he said taught him how to work hard until a job was done, make decisions under ever-changing circumstances and to work with people are all lessons that he says he learned from the family he worked with.

In his words: “As a Suffolk County legislator, I know about the quality-of-life issues that are important on the East End and I will continue to work hard to protect them.”

11/03/13 8:00am

Krupski-web-1

Incumbent county Legislator Al Krupski is running for his first full term on the county level after winning a special election earlier this year against Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter. After earning two-thirds of the vote over Mr. Walter, someone who has proven himself on the town level, Mr. Krupski now faces someone who has less experience in public office in Republican candidate Albie DeKerillis.

Mr. Krupski is the clear choice to earn a full term in office this fall.

Mr. DeKerillis faces a steep uphill battle against Mr. Krupski, who has 28 years in public office under his belt. While seemingly hard-working and community-oriented — Mr. DeKerillis holds down two jobs while volunteering as an EMT — the Republican offers no clear plan to implement his number one priority, which he says would be bringing high-paying jobs to Suffolk County’s 1st District.

With budget woes a constant conversation at the county level, Mr. Krupski — endorsed by the Conservative Party as well as Democratic and Independence parties — brings a track record of fiscal right-mindedness that benefits residents in the 1st District and throughout Suffolk. Mr. Krupski went so far earlier this year as to reject spending $200,000 of borrowed money for a study that would have looked into the economic impacts the Peconic Bay Estuary offers, something he called a waste of taxpayer money. Given the Peconic Estuary Program’s library of reports, it’s clear those studies have already been done, and borrowing funds to study the issue again offers a questionable return on investment.

Mr. Krupski – a farmer himself – has focused most publicly on farmland preservation during his first 10 months in office, at one point earning the public scorn of some longtime environmentalists. But Mr. Krupski went back to the drawing board on his original plan to meet critics in the middle and further hone the plan. In addition, he has helped guide changes to the county farmland preservation code that were crafted with the support of those most in favor of saving what’s left. This flexibility is admirable, as is the effort to preserve the county’s remaining undeveloped land with a limited bankroll.

But one thing we do hope Mr. Krupski takes with him back to the Legislature, should he earn the votes, would be Mr. DeKerillis’ zeal to create high-paying jobs in the district, particularly at the Enterprise Park at Calverton.

Farm-related jobs are a vital part of the North Fork economy, but the future of the district’s western portion will rely heavily on whether or not businesses are drawn to EPCAL. Having a legislator in the majority who will promote positive change there should help hasten that process, and we hope Mr. Krupski continues to work with his peers and colleagues at the town and state levels toward that end. Mr. Krupski has shown during his time in office he can respond to his constituents’ needs and deliver for them.

11/02/13 2:01pm
11/02/2013 2:01 PM

Laverne Tennenberg and Gregory Fischer are candidates for tax assessor.

TAX ASSESSOR
Four-year term (full time)
Salary: $74,449/$84,047 for chair

Laverne Tennenberg
Incumbent
Hamlet: Riverhead
Occupation: Assessor
Party lines: Republican, Conservative

About her: Ms. Tennenberg, 55, is a Riverhead native and Hofstra University graduate. First elected in 1989, she has served as chair of the town Board of Assessors since 1997. In 1996, she was admitted to the lnstitute of Assessing Officers and was designated a professional assessor. She previously served as president and treasurer of the Suffolk County Assessors’ Association and is treasurer of the New York State Assessors’ Association.

Her pitch: Ms. Tennenberg says her knowledge and experience are crucial to the operation of the office, especially with the Basic STAR registration process currently underway. One of her areas of concentration, she says, is in ensuring that the residences of those living in manufactured home communities are assessed fairly and equitably. She also assists seniors with exemptions, does splits and assemblage of properties and manages the assessment software system, among other duties. She has overseen the computerization of the office.

Her words: “Experience counts and you can count on me to get the job done.”

 

Gregory Fischer
Challenger
Hamlet: Calverton
Occupation: Business/strategic consultant, patented inventor, advocate/whistle-blower
Party lines: Democrat, Independence

About him: Mr. Fischer, 57, has three business degrees and over three decades’ experience in industry, accounting, economics and planning. His government and civic experience includes work with the Calverton Civic Association, the City of New York and the U.S. Department of Justice. He has filed lawsuits that are in progress and aimed at breaking up the Long Island Power Authority and forcing an election of trustees to run the utility. He describes himself as an “insourcer” that works to create American jobs.

His pitch: Mr. Fischer calls taxes the people’s money and says properties must be assessed fairly, with incoming taxes spent wisely and frugally. He feels this isn’t being done and wants to bring more transparency to the assessor’s office. He says commercial assessments are unjustifiably low, forcing residential taxpayers to subsidize businesses. He also believes the assessor’s office can be used to provide a source for “local stimulus” to benefit town taxpayers.

His words: “I promise to navigate Riverhead toward a better controlled government and proper development.”

11/02/13 2:00pm

Laverne Tennenberg

Incumbent Republican Assessor Laverne Tennenberg was first elected in 1989 and has served the people of Riverhead well ever since. She’s a smart and dedicated public servant who, as chairperson, has worked to keep office technology up-to-date. She’s also well-liked and personable, and she steers clear of controversy.

On the other hand, her Democratic challenger, Greg Fischer, seems to enjoy stirring the pot as much as he enjoys running for office. (He last ran for town supervisor on his own Riverhead First line in 2011.) He has made no clear, coherent case for why a change is needed in the assessors’ office. Even at the Democratic nominating convention he continued to carry on about instituting an elected board of trustees to run LIPA, something well beyond the scope of any office at the town level. The results of this latest campaign, we hope, will signal to Mr. Fischer that his 15 minutes are over.

11/02/13 12:00pm

Highway Superintendent candidates George Woodson (left) and Michael Panchak.

HIGHWAY SUPERINTENDENT
Salary: $84,178
Four-year term, full time

George Woodson
Incumbent
Hamlet: Riverhead
Occupation: Highway superintendent
Party lines: Democrat, Working Families, Independence

About him: Mr. Woodson, 52, was born and raised in Riverhead. He enlisted in the U.S. Army after graduating from high school in 1979. He was later hired as a laborer with the Riverhead highway department, where he rose to crew leader. He worked with the department continuously until first being elected highway superintendent in 2008. He’s also been a Riverhead Fire Department volunteer for more than 25 years and is a former chief.

His pitch: Mr. Woodson keeps a running tally of achievements from his six years in office. Among those, he lists the purchase of $3 million worth of vehicles acquired at auction for just $90,000, as well as two military snowplows that came free. He pushed for and oversaw the installation of GPS systems in town highway trucks, which helps during emergencies. He lists that he challenged and defeated the town’s practice of administrative chargebacks to the highway and other districts, resulting in almost $800,000 going back to the highway department from the general fund.

In his words: “I will continue to work hard and keep upgrading the department to the best of my ability for the residents of Riverhead and give 100 percent.”

 

Michael Panchak
Hamlet: Riverhead
Occupation: Owner of Eagle Asphalt Maintenance
Party: Conservative

About him: Mr. Panchak, 39, a lifelong Riverhead resident, owns Eagle Asphalt Maintenance in Riverhead and is a 17-year member of the Riverhead Fire Department. He has 23 years of experience in asphalt, concrete, drainage and excavation. He’s also served for 18 years as an independent snowplow contractor with the Suffolk County Department of Public Works.

His pitch: Mr. Panchak says he understands municipal contracts, cost effectiveness and budgeting, and believes he has the knowledge at the state and county level to fully understand how to best deal with issues in a cost effective manner. He also favors contracting with private snowplow companies rather than keeping and maintaining trucks that are used only a few times each year. He was nominated by the Republican Committee but knocked from the GOP line after the party didn’t file proper paperwork in time.

His words: “I have the necessary knowledge with public works projects and experience with municipalities and the state. I will bring a quality control plan to the Riverhead highway department.”

Click here to read our endorsement for highway superintendent

11/02/13 11:59am
Highway superintendent George 'Gio' Woodson

Highway superintendent George ‘Gio’ Woodson

While residents in parts of neighboring Brookhaven Town remained buried in snow for days after February’s monster blizzard, most all of Riverhead was navigable very soon after the storm (save for some stretches of state roads in Wading River not within the town’s jurisdiction). And this came just a few short months after the highway department and its crews worked to remove fallen trees and pump flooded roadways during and after Hurricane Sandy.

George (Gio) Woodson’s six years in office have seen several extreme weather events and he and his department have performed admirably during and after each one — with Mr. Woodson often rolling up his sleeves and helping out by hopping aboard a plow or other department vehicle when needed.

Profiles: Meet the candidates for highway superintendent

What more can one ask from a highway department head? Well, there are matters of budgeting, equipment maintenance and keeping workers happy and safe. Mr. Woodson has excelled in these areas, too, planning well for salt, sand and overtime and doing more with fewer workers than in years past — and with little employee turnover.

Riverhead Town residents are lucky to have Mr. Woodson in office. But in this race, there’s an embarrassment of riches.

Some less fortunate western Suffolk towns have political hacks in office who are more interested in patronage jobs that road maintenance. But Riverhead residents have two top-notch candidates to choose from. Unfortunately, the Riverhead Republican Committee let candidate Michael Panchak down by not filing the proper paperwork in time to get him on the Republican line. A qualified candidate with years of experience running his own asphalt company and dealing with town and county governments as a private contractor, Mr. Panchak would bring knowledge and experience from the private side of road work to the department. Yet he’ll appear only on the Conservative line — and it’s highly doubtful he’ll upset Mr. Woodson, who’s not only popular, but has Democratic, Independence and Working Families support. While Mr. Woodson has earned another four years in office, it’s good that there are qualified people out there eyeing his job. That will keep Mr. Woodson from ever feeling entitled or getting complacent.

11/02/13 10:00am
BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Sean Walter and Angela DeVito on the Suffolk Theater stage.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Sean Walter and Angela DeVito on the Suffolk Theater stage.

RIVERHEAD SUPERVISOR
Two-year term, full time
2014 salary: $115,15

Sean Walter
Incumbent
Hamlet: Wading River
Occupation: Lawyer
Party lines: Republican, Conservative, Independence

About him: Mr. Walter, 50, grew up in Suffolk County and has lived in Wading River since 1992. He is seeking a third two-year term as Riverhead Town supervisor. Mr. Walter had previously served as a deputy town attorney for Riverhead Town. He is an attorney in private practice, which he runs out of Wading River. He is also a former chairman of the town Conservative Party.

His pitch: Mr. Walter says that while in office, he’s made great strides in three critical areas of concern: downtown, the Enterprise Park at Calverton and town finances. He points to the new restaurants, shops and apartments downtown, as well family-friendly events and an increased police presence on Main Street. At EPCAL, he’s proud that Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently signed fast-track development legislation into law. And on town finances, he says that as supervisor, he’s reduced the size of government, maintained a high credit rating and stayed under the tax cap.

In his words: “Each day I try to make Riverhead a better place to live, work and raise a family. Though we have come far, there is much more to be done and I ask for the chance to continue to move forward.”

 

Angela DeVito
Challenger
Hamlet: South Jamesport
Occupation: Retired
Party lines: Democrat, Working Families

About her: Ms. DeVito, 65, is a longtime workplace safety advocate with related degrees from Columbia University and the University of Utah. She retired in 2000 from a NYS health department occupational medicine program at SUNY/Stony Brook and then served as director of workforce development for the Building and Construction Trades Council of Nassau and Suffolk counties. She is an active civic leader who has served on the town Industrial Development Agency and the Riverhead school board.

Her pitch: Ms. DeVito says her work experience, community activism and education make her a uniquely qualified for the supervisor position. She has more than 30 years’ experience in the public sector, with experience and skills that include public policy development and implementation; staff supervision and training; finance and budget; public testimony and lobbying; community-based coalition building; zoning and planning; finance audits; and application of public sector laws, rules and regulations.

In her words: “Everybody knows that Riverhead just isn’t working. If there is any doubt, watch Channel 22 for 15 minutes. We have a common goal: end dysfunctional government. When you are not happy with those elected to serve you, replace them.”

Read our endorsement for supervisor here

11/02/13 9:59am

TIM GANNON FILE PHOTO | Supervisor Sean Walter

Democratic supervisor nominee Angela DeVito is without a doubt a formidable challenger to two-term incumbent Republican Supervisor Sean Walter. She’s intelligent, hard-working and has given much back to the town by way of public service and civic involvement. She’s built a long and impressive résumé that reflects a life of advocacy for worker health and safety and, as a former Riverhead school board president, oversaw a budget larger than the town’s.

Ms. DeVito has run a spirited campaign. But unseating a sitting supervisor is equal parts quality of the challenger and a referendum on the incumbent’s performance. (It can be argued that elections for executive offices skew toward the latter.) It was paramount that Ms. DeVito convince voters that Riverhead Town has been on the wrong track and would continue in the same wrong direction under Mr. Walter. We’re not sure she even believes this.

Ms. DeVito may take issue with Mr. Walter’s tone of voice, behavior and his overall treatment of people who oppose him but at last week’s debate she agreed that his administration seems headed in the right direction on his signature push to subdivide and fast-track development projects for EPCAL. She also offered no clear competing vision for downtown and failed to outline any realistic approach to solving the town’s financial troubles.

Profiles: Meet the candidates for supervisor

On the all-important issue of finances, Ms. DeVito is critical of the supervisor and his Plan B of potentially borrowing against town land at EPCAL to stave off a massive tax hike in 2015. But her only idea involves the unrealistic notion that a cash-strapped Suffolk County would fork over to Riverhead Town a portion of sales tax revenues collected within the town. While this might have been a handy sound bite when out knocking on doors, many in government recognize it would be next to impossible to achieve.

More than anything else, it’s Mr. Walter’s behavior, which at times can be smug and condescending, that makes him susceptible in this race.

While he admits to these faults — and even seems to embrace them, often speaking of “breaking eggs to make omelettes” — he’ll continue to be plagued by political onslaughts from all sides if he doesn’t learn how to speak to people with courtesy and respect.

Still, it’s hard to argue with his results. Since taking office in 2010, Mr. Walter has worked tirelessly to push legislation in Albany to help develop EPCAL, called on the state comptroller’s office to audit the town’s finances to improve its long-term financial health and has himself tried to attract new investors to a Main Street that’s on the upswing in no small part because of his efforts. With Gov. Cuomo’s signing of the EPCAL fast-track bill into law last week, it would seem Mr. Walter is just starting to hit his stride.

The jury is out, however. Main Street is still struggling. (And Ms. DeVito is right in saying the town needs to also focus on quality-of-life issues in surrounding areas, such as trouble-plagued Second and Third streets, and in neighboring Riverside.) EPCAL still sits undeveloped and the town faces a budget crisis and needs to find alternative sources of revenue, quickly. Even though it’s never seemed to be an outward priority of his administration, Mr. Walter should take his fighting spirit to the developers — whose main goals are always profit, often at taxpayer expense — to better protect the “small town” so many cherish here.

It’s not time to have someone else finish the job Mr. Walter started. He deserves another two years to advance his plans for the town.