Highway Superintendent candidates George Woodson (left) and Michael Panchak.
Four-year term, full time
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.”
Occupation: Owner of Eagle Asphalt Maintenance
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.”
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