05/23/13 9:29pm

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | Riverhead Republican nominees, from left, Mike Panchak, Laverne Tennenberg, John Dunleavy, Sean Walter, Anthony Palumbo and Jodi Giglio.

It’s Sean Walter vs. Angela DeVito for Riverhead Town Supervisor.

The incumbent Republican Mr. Walter and the Democrat and former school board president Ms. Devito received the nominations of their respective parties Thursday night.

Despite having twice won elections for Town Supervisor, Mr. Walter wasn’t a guaranteed nominee. Assessor Mason Haas and Councilman Jim Wooten had both screened with party officials, but come Thursday both had backed off plans to oppose the sitting supervisor.

Mr. Haas even went so far as to nominate Mr. Walter, who promised to “be a better supervisor.” When asked if he was surprised by the support shown to him Thursday, Mr. Walter admitted he hasn’t always been a friend to everyone in the party.

“I think it’s very easy to lose sight of the people that got you elected and by reconnecting with the committee and finding out what their needs and concerns are to get renominated brings you back to your roots,” Mr. Walter said.

“In my zeal to get things done I ran over a lot of people,” he added.

Mr Wooten said that’s just how things are.

“There are no friends in politics,” he said. “We can’t afford to look back. We have to look forward.”

TIM GANNON PHOTO | Riverhead Town Democratic nominees, from left, Icilio ‘Bill’ Bianchi, Millie Thomas, Angela DeVito and Greg Fischer.

Ms. DeVito was nominated with the unanimous support of the Democratic screening committee, though current Riverhead school board president Ann Cotten-DeGrasse and Greg Fischer of Calverton received support from the floor. Ms. DeVito easily won the nomination, though.

She said recent votes give her hope she can win the election.

“This is the year,” she said. “The thing I learned in the Obama campaign and the Krupski campaign is that we Democrats can win. I got three calls for Sean Walter this year. He is scared. He is worried about the Democratic slate … we are going to bring the people together.”

Ms. DeVito, 64, 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.

Icilio “Bill” Bianchi and Millie Thomas received the Democratic nominations for Town Council. George “Gio” Woodson received the nomination for re-election as Highway Superintendent. Mr. Fischer later received the Democratic nomination for Assessor.

Mr. Bianchi, 82, is a former New York State Assemblyman who used to live in Bellport and now lives in Riverhead and owns a greenhouse on Doctors Path, where he grows orchids.

Ms. Thomas, 62,  is a real estate broker and owner of Landmark Realty in Wading River.

As expected, incumbent Republican council members Jodi Giglio and Jon Dunleavy were nominated for re-election. No other designations were made. Afterward Anthony Coates, who had screened with GOP officials, said he’s going to move forward with a primary campaign.

“I am running for the town board to propose new policy,” he said. “I am running to offer fresh ideas and to be a new voice.”

Laverne Tennenberg received the GOP nomination for re-election as assessor, while Mike Panchak was nominated to oppose incumbent Democrat George “Gio” Woodson for Highway Superintendent.

Riverhead Democrats voted to support John McManmon of Jamesport for the vacant state Assembly seat, though the move was met with controversy. While he’s registered to vote at his parents’ address in Jamesport, some Democrats, led by Greg Fischer of Calverton said he lives in New York City.

Mr. McManmon, an attorney in Manhattan, told the News-Review he does live in Brooklyn during the week for work purposes but has always voted here.

Brookhaven and Southold Democrats still have to choose a nominee for Assembly at their town conventions next week.

Republicans announced earlier Thursday that they will support New Suffolk attorney Anthony Palumbo for Assembly.

ORIGINAL STORY

Rootin’ for Wooten for Supervisor? Have a hankering for some Haas?

Sorry, this doesn’t appear to be your year after all.

GOP sources said Thursday that Riverhead Town Councilman Jim Wooten and Assessor Mason Haas have both backed down from their intent to run for Town Supervisor. Instead, sources have confirmed, incumbent Supervisor Sean Walter, 46, is expected to get the support of the Republican Committee at tonight’s nominating convention at Polish Hall.

The same sources said Thursday that incumbent council members Jodi Giglio and John Dunleavy will also get nominations for re-election, as has been expected.

Mr. Wooten, 53, stopped short of saying he’s no longer interested in running for supervisor, but he did say he’s in favor of party unity.

“The convention is tonight, and you never know what will happen,” Mr. Wooten said. “But I think the Republican Party is poised to stand together and unify their choices, and as far as my pulling out, I’m going to do what’s best for the party.” He declined to say if that meant he would not challenge Mr. Walter in a primary.

Mr. Haas, 55, could not be immediately reached for comment Thursday. Riverhead GOP chairman John Galla declined comment.

Town Board hopeful Anthony Coates, 52, appears poised to wage a primary battle in the likely event he fails to earn a nomination over Ms. Giglio, 44, and Mr. Dunleavy, 72.

“It’s a decision I will make in the aftermath of the convention, but I am strongly leaning in that direction,” he said.

The GOP convention at Polish Hall is scheduled for 7 p.m., the same time Democrats will gather at the nearby VFW Hall.

The Riverhead Democratic screening committee is recommending Angela DeVito for Supervisor, and Icilio “Bill” Bianchi and Millie Thomas for council, according to Democratic chair Marge Acevedo. The screening process took more than 35 hours, and they screened four people for supervisor and seven for council, she said.

The screening committee recommendations don’t always get the support of the full committee, as was the case two years ago.

Ms. DeVito, 64, is a former Riverhead Board of Education president, 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.

Mr. Bianchi, 82, is a former New York State Assemblyman who used to live in Bellport and now lives in Riverhead and owns a greenhouse on Doctors Path, where he grows orchids.

Ms. Thomas, 62,  is a real estate broker and owner of Landmark Realty in Wading River.

tgannon@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:

03/13/13 12:00pm
03/13/2013 12:00 PM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Town historian Georgette Case (right) rings the brass bell as (from left) town clerk Diane Wilhelm, councilmen Jim Wooten and John Dunleavy, and Supervisor Sean Walter look on Wednesday morning.

Town historian Georgette Case stood outside the front doors to Town Hall Wednesday morning, vigorously ringing a brass bell and announcing, “Here Ye, Here Ye, Here Ye! It’s 9:30 o’clock. The stage has arrived from Albany with great news on the 13th of March, 1792.”

After celebrating the 220th anniversary of the establishment of Riverhead Town last year, Ms. Case proposed making it an annual celebration. So this year marked the first of what will be an annual reading of the law that established the Town of Riverhead.

The act in came to pass after residents of Southold Town complained of their town being “too long.”

“WHERAS many of the freeholders and inhabitants of Southold in Suffolk county have presented to the legislature, that their town is so long, that it is inconvenient for them to attend at town meetings and also to transact the other necessary business of the said town; and have prayed that the same may be divided into two towns,” the act said.

At the ceremony Wednesday in front of a handful of media members, Supervisor Sean Walter said, “We have succeeded to secede.”

photo@timesreview.com

03/07/13 6:00am
03/07/2013 6:00 AM
Suffolk theater

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | The theater marquis and the sky above downtown Riverhead.

To the Editor:

It was with great pride that I attended the opening night of the newly renovated Suffolk Theater Saturday.

Upon arrival to Main Street, I was immediately brought back to the 1930s. Out front, oscillating spotlights, vintage autos, a red carpet and doormen transported guests to another era, a vision of the past with all the great indications of a grand future for Main Street.

It was difficult not to feel as if I were back in time in this beautifully refurbished theater. While the original décor was preserved, the functionality of this theater has been modernized to state-of-the-art. No longer is it just a movie theater. Tier seating throughout the theater replaced the stagnant seats with a nod to cabaret theater and foreshadowing the high-end productions that owners Bob and Dianne Castaldi envision to implement with the highly talented artistic team led by executive director Bob Spiotto and a new group of creative employees to breathe 24-hour life into our Main Street revitalization momentum.

But back to the future, or should I say back to the past. A full orchestra played on the stage and the dance floor was full of people enjoying the music of the 1930s and 1940s. Young women dressed as “flappers” and men in zoot suits with wide-brim hats mingled among the cigarette girls, G-men, Keystone cops and VIPs in traditional tuxedos.

All to the backdrop of the traditional art deco theater details, a masterpiece and important testament to Riverhead’s great history as the cultural center for the East End and Long Island. Every last detail was set to re-create the mood for this evening, down to a cheeky statue of Marilyn Monroe from the classic movie “Bus Stop” over a subway grate with the air blowing her skirt up.

In another corner, Humphrey Bogart in his classic look from the movie “Casablanca” looked on with approval. From the marquis on the outside, this may seem to be just a movie theater but on the inside it is so much more. From the ticket booth at the entrance with the original tile floor, you would think you were entering the old theater.

Until the theater doors open. Inside lies the new Riverhead.

JOHN DUNLEAVY, CALVERTON

To read all of the Letters to the Editor, pick up a copy of the News-Review on newsstands or click on the E-Paper.

12/27/12 8:00am
12/27/2012 8:00 AM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Riverhead councilwoman Jodi Giglio, right, and Supervisor Sean Walter, center, didn’t always agree in 2012.

There were some public apologies made in 2012 after disputes within the all-Republican Riverhead Town Board.

After a simmering feud between Supervisor Sean Walter and Councilwoman Jodi Giglio boiled over in June with a Walter tirade in Town Hall, it was the supervisor who apologized during a Town Board meeting days later for “being out of line” for screaming and cursing at Ms. Giglio. According to several accounts, Mr. Walter lost his temper with the councilwoman while suspecting her of working behind his back to get his friend and adviser, Anthony Coates, banned from town cars and Town Hall.

Ms. Giglio called the public apology “nice,” but never said she accepted it. She later filed a harassment complaint against Mr. Walter with town police, though she reportedly asked for no charges to be filed and requested the report “for documentation purposes.”

Things quieted down for awhile — at least publicly — until three council members, Ms. Giglio, James Wooten and George Gabrielsen, pulled a controversial resolution off the floor, meaning it wasn’t on the agenda, at a Nov. 7 Town Board meeting.

The resolution called for the sudden firing of Town Board coordinator Linda Hulse, whom Ms. Giglio said lost some councilmembers’ trust.

“This is an evil act right here,” Mr. Walter said of the measure, lamenting the fact that Ms. Hulse was never told ahead of time.

“How many other employees are you planning to fire this way?“

Mr. Walter tried to stall the vote and sway some minds as the board argued publicly for over an hour, but to no avail. The move passed 3-2.

Mr. Dunleavy, who voted against the firing, said he was never informed of the plan and said Mr. Hulse should have been told, too.

“This is a coward’s position to let them go without talking to them,” he said.

Mr. Dunleavy then accused Mr. Wooten of being “rude” ever since he got elected. “That’s not true,” Mr. Wooten responded.

At the start of the next week’s more cordial Town Board work session, a regretful Mr. Wooten apologized for the way the firing was handled.

“I was reminded last night it was very unprofessional,” he said, choking up a bit. “It wasn’t businesslike, and for that, I’m sorry.”

Ms. Giglio and Mr. Gabrielsen offered no apologies.

At an event in Jamesport that same night, where Mr. Coates announced plans to run for Town Board in 2013, Mr. Walter said “Giglio is toast.”

mwhite@timesreview.com

12/07/12 9:26pm
12/07/2012 9:26 PM
TIM GANNON FILE PHOTO | Supevisor Sean Walter (left) and Councilman George Gabrielsen during a recent Town Board meeting.

TIM GANNON FILE PHOTO | Supevisor Sean Walter (left) and Councilman George Gabrielsen during a recent Town Board meeting.

So Riverhead Councilmen Jim Wooten and John Dunleavy have already said they’d be interested in running for supervisor if incumbent Sean Walter gets elected to the county SLegislature on Jan. 15.

And Councilwoman Jodi Giglio said she isn’t interested in running for supervisor — unless she was asked to.

But what about Councilman George Gabrielsen?

He’s not ruling it out either.

He said in an interview that if he doesn’t feel the right person is running, he would seek the position himself.

“The biggest thing facing the town right now is that the supervisor has to be someone who is fiscally conservative,” Mr. Gabrielsen said. “Because by the year 2015 or 2016, we’re going to be out of reserve funds.”

Mr. Gabrielsen said he thinks Mr. Walter is fiscally conservative and has the town on the right path financially, having shrunk the size of government and concentrated on getting the Enterprise Park at Calverton (EPCAL) redeveloped.

But if Mr. Walter wins the Legislature seat, the town needs someone to follow the same path, Mr. Gabrielsen said.

“The EPCAL subdivision must be finished, and we may have to downsize government,” he said.

Mr. Gabrielsen said he is very busy right now, with the town position, his farm, and land he owns upstate.

“I’m working 10-12 hours a day,” he said. “But there comes a point where you see where the town is going, and if I feel that person (running for supervisor) wasn’t going to get the job done, then you have to sacrifice your lifestyle to save the Republic, so to speak.”

The councilman said the town supervisor must come from a business background.

“I know I could do it, it’s just the commitment needed at this point in my life,” he said. “Hopefully, we’ll find that candidate.”

Town assessor and outspoken opponent of the county’s homeless sex offender trailer parked outside the Suffolk County jail said Thursday night he wouldn’t rule out a run either — given the right circumstances.

He said many people have brought it up to him.

“But right now, Sean hasn’t even won,” Mr. Haas said. “So it’s really too early.”

Councilwoman Jodi Giglio also left open a possibility that she might run for supervisor if Mr. Walter is elected to the county seat.

“I have no intentions of running for supervisor at all, but if the party came to me and say we want you to run, then I might consider it,” she said in an interview.

“But as of now, I have no intentions of running. I love my job as councilwoman and I love my private sector work.”

Ms. Giglio had sought to be the Republican party’s candidate for town supervisor in 2009, when it appeared she and Mr. Walter might be headed for a primary.  But in a last minute agrement at the Republican committee’s nominating convention, she agreed to run for council, while letting Mr. Walter run for for supervisor.

The current all-Republican board has had a number of public disagreements since then, many of them involving disputes between Ms. Giglio and Mr. Walter.

tgannon@timesreview.com

Additional reporting by Michael White

12/05/12 1:00pm
12/05/2012 1:00 PM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Councilman James Wooten (from left), Councilman John Dunleavy and Supervisor Sean Walter in Town Hall.

The Suffolk County Legislature on Tuesday set Jan. 15 as the date of a special election pitting Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter against Southold Town Councilman Al Krupski to fill the county legislature seat recently vacated by Ed Romaine’s election as Brookhaven Supervisor.

And while the election is still more than a month away, candidates are already lining up to fill Mr. Walter’s shoes, should he win.

Riverhead Councilmen Jim Wooten and John Dunleavy both said this week that they would be interested in running for Riverhead Town Supervisor if Mr. Walter gets elected to the Suffolk County Legislature.

Mr. Dunleavy threw his hat in the ring during a brief conversation with reporters during a break at Tuesday’s Town Board meeting.

Mr. Dunleavy was lamenting the fact that decisions where being made without anyone telling him, such as the decision to remove a resolution Tuesday calling for a settlement with a developer who had sued over a planned project in Calverton.

“That’s why I’m going to run for supervisor if Sean gets elected to the county,” he said. “But it’s too early to say now, because if he doesn’t get elected, he’s still supervisor.”

In some towns, like in Brookhaven, the town code requires special elections be held to fill vacancies within 60 to 90 days of the vacancy occurring, Mr. Dunleavy said. But not Riverhead.

“We don’t have that,” he said. “That’s why we went without a councilman for almost a year [when former Councilman Tim Buckley stepped down].”

Mr. Dunleavy also said that the cost of a special election is borne by the county, not the town.

“Everyone thinks the town pays. They don’t,” he said. “The county does.”

Mr. Dunleavy’s fellow Riverhead councilman, Jim Wooten, also said he’d be interested in running for supervisor, if a vacancy arises.

“I’ve always had an interest in serving in that capacity,” Mr. Wooten said. “I think I have that skill set.”

If Mr. Walter is elected to the county Legislature, it would take three votes on the Town Board to appoint a deputy to fill in until a special election is held, and it would up to the Republican committee to decide who the party’s candidate for a special election would be, Mr. Wooten said.

“I’ll cross that bridge when I get there,” he said. “Right now, I think all hands are on deck to support Sean and get him elected to the Legislature.”

Mr. Wooten said he doesn’t want it look like “it’s me against John,” but he added, “if the opportunity arose to run for supervisor … I would want to be considered.”

Meanwhile, Councilwoman Jodi Giglio, who has expressed interest in running for supervisor in the past, said this week that she is not interested in running for supervisor, unless she is asked to do by the Republican party.

Ms. Giglio and Mr. Dunleavy both were screened by the Republicans to run for the legislative nod, which ultimately went to Mr. Walter.

Riverhead Councilman George Gabrielsen, who thus far has not sought to run for any other positions, could not be reached for comment.

Riverhead’s current deputy supervisor, Jill Lewis, is not an elected official and would not be able to vote on issues if the supervisor left.

tgannon@timesreview.com

11/26/12 6:49pm
11/26/2012 6:49 PM

TIM GANNON FILE PHOTO | Suffolk Republican leaders have chosen their nominee for the 1st District seat in the County Legislature, and the last man to hold the post indicated Monday that Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter could be the choice.

Suffolk Republican leaders have chosen their nominee for the 1st District seat in the County Legislature, and the last man to hold the post indicated Monday that Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter could be the choice.

Speaking after his inauguration as Brookhaven Town Supervisor, Ed Romaine said Monday that he’s hearing party officials are giving “serious consideration” to Mr. Walter, who emerged last week as a finalist for the job. Riverhead council members John Dunleavy and Jodi Giglio, and Romaine aide Bill Faulk, are the other three finalists.

Suffolk County Republican Chairman John Jay LaValle confirmed Monday that a nominee has been selected by the Republican Committee and that a press release will be issued Tuesday morning, but he declined to name which of the four finalists would get the nod.

“We’ve made our decision,” Mr. LaValle said Monday afternoon. “I just can’t say who it is yet.”

Mr. Walter, Ms. Giglio and Mr. Faulk all said Monday that they had not yet heard from party officials.

Democrats have already chosen Southold Councilman Al Krupski as their nominee.

Mr. Romaine said whoever the nominee is, they’ll have a challenge going up against Mr. Krupski in just a six-week election cycle.

“I know [Mr. Krupski] and he’ll put up a good fight,” Mr. Romaine said.

Mr. Romaine confirmed that the election will likely be held Jan. 15, a date he said will be voted on at the County Legislature’s meeting next Tuesday. By law, the election must be held within 90 days of the previous Legislator leaving office.

With the Democrats having already announced their candidate, he said the Democratic majority in the Legislature would prefer to schedule the election for as early as possible.

“They’re not going to schedule it for Feb. 9,” Mr. Romaine said.

Of the four finalists for Legislature, only Ms. Giglio was absent from Mr. Romaine’s inauguration at a packed Brookhaven Town Hall Monday afternoon. Mr. Walter, who has been locked in a public battle with Ms. Giglio that has escalated in recent weeks, attended the inauguration with his political adviser, Anthony Coates, who has already announced his intention to unseat Ms. Giglio next November.

gparpan@timesreview.com