11/06/12 11:40pm
11/06/2012 11:40 PM

TIM GANNON PHOTO | Riverhead tax receiver Laurie Zaneski hugs her deputy, Cori Fife, on election night.

In the race for Riverhead tax receiver, Republican incumbent Laurie Zaneski was easily elected to the post Tuesday night, defeating Democrat Robert Gottschalk by an unofficial vote of 6,188 to 1,900, although neither of them appeared on the ballot with major party backing.

Because both parties missed the deadline for petitions for major party candidates due to the unexpected resignation of longtime tax receiver MaryAnn Heilbrunn, Ms. Zaneski ended up on the ballot as the Riverhead Taxpayers First party candidate and Mr. Gottschalk had the Taxpayers Unite line, since minor parties have more time to file nominating petitions.

Ms. Zaneski had been the deputy tax receiver, an appointed position, for eight years and was nominated by the Republicans to run for Ms. Heilbrunn’s seat. It was her first run for an elected office.

“It was exciting and exhausting,” she said after the vote, which saw her gain 76 percent of the vote. “I’m still a little overwhelmed. But now we can push forward and keep doing what we’re doing.”

She was overheard saying “I’m so glad it’s over,” as she hugged a relative Tuesday night at her home in Aquebogue, where friends and relatives gathered to watch the results.

Town Republican leaders were in Patchogue, watching the Congressional race results.

Over in Democratic headquarters, at the Polish Town Civic Association headquarters, it was apparent early that Mr. Gottschalk, a former town assessor, was trailing by a large margin.

“It doesn’t look good,” he said, as he watched his cellphone.

Afterwards, when told how far behind he was, he joked, “I’m moving to Brookhaven.”

Riverhead Republican chairman John Galla said Republicans made about 1,000 “robocalls” earlier in the day in support of Ms. Zaneski. He said he was worried about the fact that the minor party line she ran on was at the bottom of the ballot.

Ms. Zaneski was elected to fill the remaining three years of Ms. Heilbrunn’s term. Ms. Heilbrunn had been reelected to a four year term last year and decided in mid-year to step down.

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11/06/12 5:00am

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Congressman Tim Bishop (left) and Republican Challenger Randy Altschuler at a Riverhead debate in September.

First Congressional District

Tim Bishop (D-Southampton)

Five-term incumbent Tim Bishop, 62, worked at Southampton College for 29 years, starting as an admissions counselor and serving for many years as provost, the chief administrative post. He left the college when first elected to Congress in 2002, defeating incumbent Republican Felix Grucci.

Mr. Bishop says if re-elected his legislative priorities will include job creation and economic expansion, protecting the environment, working for seniors and the middle class, providing access to affordable health care and supporting veterans.

A twelfth-generation Southampton resident, Mr. Bishop received his bachelor’s degree from The College of the Holy Cross and his master’s from Long Island University.

He serves on the Committee on Education, the Workforce and the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, and the Congressional Arts Caucus.

Mr. Bishop voted for the Affordable Health Care for America Act, commonly known as Obamacare, and the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008, and his voting record reflects that he votes with the majority of House Democrats on almost every key issue.

Randy Altschuler (R-St. James)

Randy Altschuler, 41, is currently the executive chairman of CloudBlue, which recycles electronic equipment. Prior to that, he was the CEO of OfficeTiger, a company that provided office support services with employees around the world.

Mr. Altschuler ran for Mr. Bishop’s congressional seat in 2010, losing by 263 votes after an intense recount that proved to be the longest in the nation that year.

Mr. Altschuler attended New York City public schools, received his bachelor’s degree from Princeton University, studied abroad as a Fulbright Scholar and received his MBA from Harvard University.

If elected, Mr. Altschuler pledges to repeal the Affordable Health Care Act, work for the Republican plan for Medicare and Social Security reform, reform teacher tenure requirements and support school voucher programs.

First New York Senatorial District

Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson)

Incumbent Ken LaValle, 73, has held the 1st District state Senate seat since 1977, having been elected in November 1976. He has been chairman of the Senate committee on higher education since 1979 and is chairman of the Senate Majority Conference. He was a teacher before entering politics. Since he’s been in office, he earned a law degree from Touro College and is now a practicing attorney as well.

Mr. LaValle said he continues to receive support from his constituents, which is why he has won his re-election bids by overwhelming margins.

He says he’s working to get approval for the commission that Riverhead Town has advocated as a way of fast-tracking projects at EPCAL and, among other things, has been instrumental in establishing the Stony Brook Business Incubator in Calverton; has secured grant money for the J. Kings food processing facility in Baiting Hollow; and has helped to create a synergy among the three East End hospitals.

Mr. LaValle also lauds the 2 percent government tax levy cap.

“We’ve also reduced taxes for every tax category, with the majority of it going to the middle-income taxpayers,” he said.

Republicans currently have a majority in the state Senate, while Democrats control the Assembly.

Mr. LaValle is the father of two grown children and lives in Port Jefferson with his wife, Penny.

Bridget Fleming (D-Noyack)

Challenger Bridget Fleming, 52, is a matrimonial attorney who has been a Southampton Town councilwoman since March 2010.

Prior to that, she has served as chief of a Manhattan district attorney’s office unit that prosecuted fraud in public assistance programs such as welfare, public housing and Medicaid. Before that, she said, she prosecuted sex crimes.

As a Southampton Town Board member, Ms. Fleming says she’s helped to eliminate a budget deficit, thereby restoring the town’s credit rating; focused on proper staffing and controls in the town finance department; and spearheaded economic initiatives such as the Farm Fresh Market in Flanders, which is run by teenagers and sells local produce, and the Youth Build Project in Riverside, which teaches young people about sustainable building methods while restoring blighted homes.

She claims Mr. LaValle has not been effective in bringing the East End its fair share of school aid and says the amount of money East End residents pay in state taxes is more than what they get back in state services.

“Money comes out of our district, goes up to the pot in Albany and then doesn’t come back with us getting our fair share,” she said a recent debate. “We need somebody who is fighting for our local needs.”

A resident of Noyac since 2001, Ms. Fleming lives with her husband, Robert Agoglia, a general contractor, and their 9-year old son, Jai.

Riverhead Town Tax Receiver

This is a special election to fill the last three years of longtime Riverhead tax receiver Maryanne Heilbrunn’s term. She stepped down at the end of June.

Laurie Zaneski (R-Aquebogue)

This is incumbent tax receiver Laurie Zaneski’s first political race. The town’s deputy tax receiver since August 2003, Ms. Zaneski, of Aquebogue, was appointed tax receiver in September and has been running that office since Ms. Heilbrunn stepped down on June 30, she says.

Ms. Zaneski, 46, was nominated by the Riverhead Republican Committee but, because of a missed Board of Elections deadline, she is forced to run for tax receiver on an independent line, which the committee set up as Riverhead Taxpayers First.

“I’ve been on the job, doing the job,” Ms. Zaneski said. “I have the confidence of the public already; a lot of them already know me. The bottom line is the experience.”

Before working for the town, Ms. Zaneski was secretary to the director of operations at Cablevision in Riverhead. Before that, she worked for Central Suffolk Hospital (now Peconic Bay Medical Center).

She spoke in a candidate interview about “kitchen table economics.”

“People want to know their money is safe and we invest it properly to help the town,” she said.

Ms. Zaneski has been involved in many parent-teacher groups and booster clubs in the Riverhead School District and has three children in town schools. Her oldest daughter, Jocelyn, a high school senior, was a member of the Long Island champion girls’ basketball team this past school year.

Her husband, Kevin, is a 25-year member of the Riverhead Volunteer Fire Department and has worked as a New York City firefighter for the past 16 years.

Robert Gottschalk (D-Wading River)

Former town assessor Robert Gottschalk of Wading River was chosen by the town Democratic Committee in August to run in the special election for town tax receiver.

But like the Republicans, the Democrats missed a Board of Elections filing date so Mr. Gottschalk has had to run on an independent line, called Riverhead Taxpayers United.

Mr. Gottschalk, 56, was appointed to a one-year term as town assessor in 1998 after Leroy Barnes resigned, but lost the following election to Paul Leszcynski. He also ran unsuccessfully for assessor in 2007.

“I’m running for receiver of taxes this year because I feel that there’s a need to have a professional in the job,” he said in a candidate interview. “I have been your state-certified assessor in the past, I have an accounting background, I have been the fund administrator for the pension and welfare funds of several large unions and I have also have been active tax accountant for the last 35 years.

“It’s time that we put some people into the office that can do the job while they’re there,” he said.

Mr. Gottschalk has lived in Wading River for over 30 years and has a background in computers, accounting and real estate. He’s also worked for many years as a business representative and fund administrator for a projectionists’ union.

He’s a former president of the Polish Town Civic Association and a member of the Wading River Civic Association.

He served as chairman of the Riverhead Democratic Committee in 1994 and 1995.

Riverhead Town Justice

Allen Smith (R-Jamesport)

Incumbent Allen Smith, 69, of Jamesport, is running for another four-year term.

And again, he is running unopposed.

Judge Smith was first elected in 2000. His term doesn’t conform to regular town election years because he was originally elected to fill a term left open with the death of Henry Saxtein, and town justices in New York State must be elected to full four-year terms.

“I enjoy the job thoroughly,” Judge Smith said of his part-time role. “It’s intellectually stimulating.”

Before becoming a judge, Mr. Smith served as Riverhead Town supervisor, town attorney, a member of the Riverhead school board, a Suffolk County deputy attorney and a county personnel officer.

He also has a private law practice and has been a member of the Riverhead Fire Department since 1978.

In 2010, Judge Smith was named Judge of the Year by the Suffolk County Criminal Bar Association, the first time that honor ever went to a town justice.

Six years ago, he was also instrumental in establishing the East End Regional Intervention Court, commonly called “drug court,” with Southampton Town Justice Deborah Kooperstein.

“Our Riverhead committee believes that Judge Smith has proven himself to be an extraordinary jurist,” said Riverhead Republican Committee leader John Galla. “Fair, firm. These are the hallmarks of Judge Smith.”

The Democrats also did not challenge Judge Smith in his prior two elections.

09/05/12 2:00pm
09/05/2012 2:00 PM
Griffing Avenue, Riverhead, tavern

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Roberto Marroquin is looking for a special permit to operate a tavern at 155 Griffing Avenue, just north of West Main Street.

Locals come out against ‘tavern’ proposed for downtown Riverhead.

Read Story

Also read below, live reporting from Wednesday afternoon’s Town Board meeting.

Public hearings were scheduled on the bar, as well as a proposal to rebuild the Citgo station on West Main Street and to ban left turns out of the Roanoke Avenue 7-11, among others items.

September 5, 2012 – Agenda

09/05/12 1:00pm
Laurie Zaneski, Riverhead Town tax receiver

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Incoming tax receiver Laurie Zaneski outside Town Hal.

Laurie Zaneski, Riverhead Town’s deputy tax receiver, is expected to be appointed to the vacant tax receiver position at today’s Town Board meeting.

The position has been vacant since Maryann Heilbrunn resigned at the end of June. Tax receiver is an elected position, whereas deputy tax receiver is not.

Ms. Zaneski is already on the Nov. 6 ballot to fill the vacancy. She’s the Republican candidate, but will appear on the ballot on the independent “Riverhead Taxpayers First” line because the Republicans missed the July 12 deadline by which major parties had to file nominating petitions.

The Democrats also missed that deadline, so their candidate, former town assessor Robert Gottschalk, will be on the ballot on the independent “Riverhead Taxpayers United” line. Those parties were created because independent parties have a later deadline for submitting petitions.

Ms. Zaneski’s appointment would run from Sept. 6 to Nov. 6. She would be paid Ms. Heilbrunn’s annual salary of $69,597, pro-rated over the amount of time she serves. The winner of the Nov. 6 election will take over immediately. Ms. Zaneski currently earns $46,744 as an account clerk typist, plus a $2,500 stipend for being deputy tax receiver.

The board was expected to also approve Ms. Zaneski’s request for a three-month leave of absence from her account clerk typist job.

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08/14/12 2:55pm
08/14/2012 2:55 PM


Days after Riverhead Republicans picked Laurie Zaneski as their candidate for tax receiver in this November’s special election, the Democrats on Monday tapped former assessor Robert Gottschalk of Wading River to run against her.

Except it won’t Republican vs. Democrats on the ballot.

That’s because both town parties missed the July 12 deadline for constituted parties to get their nominating petitions in.

The seat they are seeking to fill was vacated by longtime tax receiver Mary Ann Heilbrunn, who resigned June 30.

Had she resigned on July 6 or later, the parties would have been able to get a certificate of nomination to put someone on the ballot without petitions.

But since they didn’t meet that deadline, both parties have developed independent lines to run their candidates on, since independent party petitions have until Aug. 21.

So the Republican candidate, Ms. Zaneski, will be running on the the “Riverhead Taxpayers First” line and the Democrat, Mr. Gottschalk, a former town assessor, will be running on the “Riverhead Taxpayers United” line.

Mr. Gottschalk, 56, was appointed to a one-year term as town assessor in 1998 after Leroy Barnes resigned but lost the following election to Paul Leszcynski. He also unsuccessfully ran for assessor in 2007.

Mr. Gottschalk has lived in Wading River for more than 30 years, and has a background in computers, accounting and real estate.  He’s also worked for many years as a business representative and fund administrator for a projectionists’ union.

He’s also a former president of the Polish Town Civic Association and a member of the Wading River Civic Association. he also served as chairman of the Riverhead Democratic committee in 1994 and 1995.

“He’s a tremendous candidate,” said Riverhead Democratic Committee chairman Vinny Villella. “He was a great assessor and he’ll be a great receiver of taxes.”

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