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.