09/14/13 8:00am
09/14/2013 8:00 AM
GRANT PARPAN PHOTO | Councilwoman Jodi Giglio celebrates her primary election win with fellow Town Board members James Wooten (left) and George Gabrielsen.

GRANT PARPAN PHOTO | Councilwoman Jodi Giglio celebrates her primary election win with fellow Town Board members James Wooten (left) and George Gabrielsen.

 

You get the clearest picture of a political landscape in the first couple hours after a contentious primary election. It’s the one truly honest time in politics.

Talk to candidates and their campaign supporters during a primary election cycle and most of what you’ll hear is loaded with style and thin on substance. The issues are rarely discussed in primary campaigns, as the candidates focus more on shredding opponents. Then, miraculously, by the time you get closer to the general election, everyone’s suddenly united.

It’s all about those first few hours after the primary. The emotions are still raw; the peace has not yet been brokered; and the gloves are off.

Tuesday night in Riverhead was a perfect example of that. Between now and November, Riverhead Republicans will pitch a united front. Even if it’s just on a piece of literature you carry straight from your mailbox to the recycling bin, you will be sent the message that Sean Walter, Jodi Giglio and John Dunleavy will work together these next two years to cut spending, lower your taxes and grow the local economy.

Sounds great, doesn’t it? But that’s a sales pitch. If you want to know how the players really feel, you’ve got to get to them while they’re still digesting primary results and before they’ve had a chance to sleep on them. With reporters tracking all six Riverhead primary candidates Tuesday — including myself, who spent the night with the Giglio campaign — we were able to capture some revealing takes on the current state of Riverhead politics.

Take Mr. Dunleavy, for instance. Sensing momentum for the Coates campaign during the primary run, Mr. Dunleavy aligned himself with Mr. Coates and Mr. Walter, who once called himself a “man without a party.” For the moment, after Mr. Coates failed to win the nomination, he finds himself in a political minority on the Town Board.

“As you can tell tonight, the Republican Party is with Jodi at Outerbanks,” Mr. Dunleavy said from his living room Tuesday night. “All I have is my supporters here.

“I’m going to continue what I’m doing. I’ll have my supporters and I hope I get the support of the Republican Party,” he said.

Despite what you’re told between now and Election Day, this all-Republican Town Board will always lack chemistry. In one corner is Mr. Walter. In the other are Ms. Giglio, James Wooten and George Gabrielsen and, based on Tuesday’s results, we’d imagine Mr. Dunleavy will find his way to their corner sometime in the near future.

At least until the general election in November, the new Giglio-Wooten-Gabrielsen majority was the big winner Tuesday. Don’t believe it? Just ask them; they’ll be more than happy to tell you.

“Tonight was almost a mandate from the public that they don’t like the way we have been treated by the supervisor,” said Mr. Gabrielsen, who along with Mr. Wooten is not facing re-election this year. “They like the direction of the board, but they don’t like the way our government is being run by a supervisor who’s constantly in attack mode.”

Even with Tuesday’s “almost mandate,” the supervisor seemed perfectly content to distance himself from the rest of the board. His post-primary comments indicate he has little interest in uniting the party, but rather wants to continue the battle Mr. Coates fought — and lost.

In a sense, it’s a relief to see a supervisor who has more of an interest in pursuing what he believes to be best for the town over party politics. But when things become as contentious as they have in recent months, you wonder if the town would be better served by a board that has the ability to find middle ground.

Mr. Wooten said he believes the political in-fighting of the Republicans has held the town back.

“We have a government that’s always at each other’s throats,” he said. “Things are getting done, but we should be getting even more done.”

Which brings us to the group of people who could just end up being the biggest winners of all this election season: Riverhead’s Democrats, who likely won’t take long to break their curious silence.

Even some Republicans admitted Tuesday that they believe the contentious GOP primary will help the Democrats.

“If I were a Democrat, I’d seize the momentum,” Mr. Wooten said. “I hate to say it, but it’s true.

“They have a real opportunity here.”

Mr. Parpan is the executive editor of Times/Review Newsgroup. He can be reached at gparpan@timesreview.com or 631-298-3200, ext. 266.

09/12/13 6:00am
09/12/2013 6:00 AM

TIM GANNON PHOTO | Anthony Coates delivers a concession speech Tuesday night.

To the editor:

I believe the voting public is always open to support a challenger who places ideas and principles above party loyalty. However, based on the primary election results, the Anthony Coates campaign seemed unsuccessful in articulating either.

The campaign strategy to go negative instead of focusing on a positive reform agenda — what he would do differently from the incumbents — never materialized and Mr. Coates paid the price at the ballot box. That stated, I would hope all of us can refrain from continued personal demonization of any candidate and stick to the important issues the town has to wrestle with.

Unless you have been willing to run for office and opened your entire life and family to public scrutiny, personal attacks of any individual with the courage to run for office is uncalled for, and perhaps the reason why so many good, qualified folks stay out of the fray.

Steven Romano, Riverhead

09/09/13 8:00am
09/09/2013 8:00 AM
BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | (L-R) Anthony Coates, John Dunleavy and Jodi Giglio at Monday's debate.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | (L-R) Anthony Coates, John Dunleavy and Jodi Giglio at an Aug. 26 debate

Voters in Riverhead Town who are registered with the Republican, Democratic or Independence parties will head to the polls on Tuesday for primary day.

Below is a brief biography of each of the candidates.

TOWN SUPERVISOR

Angela DeVito

Angela DeVito

Hamlet: South Jamesport

Occupation: Retired

Primary Race: Democratic

Angela DeVito, 65, is the committee nominee for supervisor. She is a longtime workplace safety advocate with related degrees from Columbia University and the University of Utah School of Medicine. 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.

Ellen A. Cotten-DeGrasse

Ellen A. Cotten-DeGrasse

Hamlet: Jamesport

Occupation: Retired teacher

Primary Race: Democratic

Supervisor hopeful Ellen A. Cotten-DeGrasse, 70, also known as Ann, taught at Riverhead High School for 32 years before retiring in 1997. During her time in the district she served as the head of the teacher’s union, Riverhead Central Faculty Association, from 1992 to 1997. She is the current president of the Riverhead Board of Education, to which she was first elected in 2008. She’s also a co-founder of the North Forth Breast Health Coalition, a charity and advocacy group that assists breast cancer patients.

TOWN COUNCIL

John Dunleavy

John Dunleavy

Hamlet: Calverton

Occupation: Retired police officer

Primary Race: Republican, Independence

Republican incumbent and committee nominee John Dunleavy, 72, is running for a third four-year term as a town councilman. Mr. Dunleavy is a U.S. Navy veteran and former Grumman Corporation employee who later joined the Riverhead Town police department where he came to head the department’s juvenile aid bureau for 15 years before retiring in 1988. He then worked in banking until 2007. Mr. Dunleavy was first elected councilman in 2006.

Jodi Giglio

Jodi Giglio

Hamlet: Baiting Hollow

Occupation: Owner of Bennett Enterprises

Primary Race: Republican, Independence

Republican incumbent and committee nominee Jodi Giglio, 45, is running for her second four-year term as a town councilwoman. Ms. Giglio has a business background, which includes relocating corporate executives for United Van Lines and serving as an on-site construction superintendent for a Long Island townhouse project. She owns and runs Bennett Enterprises, which assists landowners with residential and commercial applications.

Anthony Coates

Anthony Coates

Hamlet: Riverhead

Occupation: Investment consultant

Primary Race: Republican

Republican challenger Anthony Coates, 52, is seeking his first term in public office. He’s been active in public service since age 16, when he was an aide to a county legislator. He helped run a home heating oil company and is a former publisher of the Record newspapers, which were based in Port Jefferson. He’s also been a political adviser to local and nationally elected officials and worked as a financial portfolio manager.

Bill Bianchi

Bill Bianchi

Hamlet: Riverhead

Occupation: Owner of Bianchi-Davis Greenhouses

Primary Race: Independence

Democratic committee nominee Bill Bianchi, 82, is a former Bellport resident who served as a state assemblyman from 1972 to 1994. Mr. Bianchi got started in public service as a South Country school board member and president. He then was part of a lawsuit that effectively ended the county’s Board of Supervisors in favor of a Legislature. He’s worked continually in the orchid business and co-owns orchid greenhouses off Doctors Path.

*Sources: the candidates

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Supervisor hopefuls on how they‘d run town

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Republican rivals square off at primary debate

09/05/13 8:00am
09/05/2013 8:00 AM
BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | (L-R) Anthony Coates, John Dunleavy and Jodi Giglio at Monday's debate.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | (L-R) Anthony Coates, John Dunleavy and Jodi Giglio at the Aug. 26 debate.

Americans often complain of entrenched elected leaders, party machines and the overall political powers-that-be joining forces to give a Heisman Trophy-style stiff-arm to the electorate when it comes to who gets into public office — and who stays there.

Political primaries are one tool the public has to take a bit of that power back, because regular citizens — at least in New York, citizens registered with parties — get to choose who runs for office on a given party line.

Locally, party nominations up for grabs on primary day, Tuesday, Sept. 10, include the Democratic pick for Riverhead Town supervisor and Republican and Independence party nods for two open council seats.

While party leaders and incumbent candidates may hate primaries, it’s hard to argue against the positives they bring to the political process.

This year’s primary races have given voters a unique opportunity to get to know candidates they might not otherwise have heard much from — or about — until now.

And the dialogue during the races, including at the Aug. 26 primary debates, has pushed some real issues in Riverhead Town to the forefront. These include zoning and planning matters, and whether the town is headed in the right direction, in terms of development. Other questions concern the role of the Industrial Development Agency and whether it should exist at all. The idea of term limits is also something that seemed to be gaining traction based on some pretty hearty applause at the downtown debates.

As far as endorsements go, politically independent newspapers like the News-Review don’t typically endorse candidates in party primaries. The paper is in no position to say who would be the better Republican or better Democrat. That’s up to the club: registered party members.

But we do hope we’ve provided enough coverage and opportunity for readers to get to know these candidates, so that they can make an informed choice.