03/13/14 5:45pm
03/13/2014 5:45 PM
Riverhead town board members Jim Wooten, John Dunleavy, Supervisor Sean Walter, George Gabrielsen and Jodi Giglio

Riverhead town board members Jim Wooten, John Dunleavy, Supervisor Sean Walter, George Gabrielsen and Jodi Giglio (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

Riverhead Town Board members all agreed on a 12-year term limit for elected officials in policy making positions during a discussion at Thursday’s work session.

But they don’t agree on term limits for non-policy making elected officers, or for members of appointed boards like the planning board. (more…)

11/02/13 7:59am
11/02/2013 7:59 AM
Town council candidates Jodi Giglio and Millie Thomas

Town council candidates Jodi Giglio and Millie Thomas

The job of Town Council member is described as part-time, but it takes hard work and dedication for candidates to make good on those oft-repeated campaign promises to keep the town’s taxes in check while “preserving our way of life.” It takes not only time but also guts and the ability to learn all the technical aspects of what makes town government work — in order to help it work better.

Jodi Giglio and Millie Thomas have just the type of skills to be highly effective Town Council people.

Profiles: Meet the candidates for town council

Ms. Giglio, a Republican incumbent, already has four years’ experience under her belt and has proven her ability to understand the inner workings of town government. She’s also helped keep fellow GOP member and political rival Supervisor Sean Walter in check — especially in voting against Mr. Walter’s plan to hire his own political adviser, Anthony Coates, for a made-up job in 2012.

In addition, she has spearheaded an attempt to lure the Federal Aviation Administration to the town’s EPCAL site, despite pushback from the supervisor.

But as she made clear in her first run in 2009, Ms. Giglio is “business- friendly.” By trade, she is a permit expediter for developers. This could prove beneficial when it comes to recognizing when developers are trying to play the town. But when developers do exactly that — and they have; one has only to look to the Costco site along Route 58 for a recent example — one can’t help but wonder: Where was Jodi? But she makes no apologies about land-use rights, to the point that it’s hard to even imagine her as someone who will truly fight to make sure developers give back to the town just as much as they take from it.

Enter Ms. Thomas. Her résumé, like Ms. Giglio’s, includes “business owner,” but her civic involvement and the priorities of the town’s Democratic slate in general — neighborhood preservation through strict adherence to the town code — may serve to counterbalance Ms. Giglio’s business-friendly approach.

Ms. Thomas’ ability to navigate one of the worst economic downturns in the real estate market while maintaining her business, Landmark Realty, is impressive. A former president of the Long Island Board of Realtors, she said at a debate co-sponsored by the News-Review that her firm handled $27 million worth of sales last year, ranking in the top 10 percent in Suffolk County.

It’s a shame Ms. Thomas wasn’t more vocal in touting her achievements out on the campaign trail. Unlike her fellow candidates, she failed to start a campaign fund or raise any money. While many politicians often say they’re “not a politician,” to explain away what would appear to be a lack of true dedication, with Ms. Thomas, it’s believable. Aside from her business, she’s been involved in numerous charitable endeavors, taught religious classes for a dozen years through St. Anthony’s Church in Rocky Point and has dedicated time and knowledge to the Long Island Board of Realtors, serving it as director, secretary and vice president. No one could ever accuse her of being lazy. Given her track record, there’s no reason to believe she wouldn’t bring the requisite level of dedication to improving town government.

As for Republican incumbent John Dunleavy, he should be credited for his public service to the town as a police offer and for eight years as a councilman. But he’s been too comfortable for too long maintaining a superficial knowledge of how the town works. He’s too apt to take people coming to the Town Board at their word, without the appropriate level of skepticism and research.

He’s recently said he doesn’t know how to read site plans but, after eight years in office, what’s the excuse? With respect to the clearing of vegetation to make way for the Costco, Mr. Dunleavy said early in last week’s council debates that he “did not know they were going to clear-cut the whole shopping center.”

Yet in November 2011, the News-Review ran the first of several news stories explaining that developers intended to do exactly that at the 42-acre site. The story’s headline read: “Costco plans shrink; land clearing doesn’t.”

Here’s an excerpt from that story: “The new layout presented to the town shows the northern quarter of the site — closest to the senior complex — unoccupied by buildings or other infrastructure, but it also shows this area being entirely cleared of the trees currently there, then revegetated with landscaping.”

Even if Mr. Dunleavy can’t read site plans, he can read the newspaper. His job as a Town Board member is to stay on top of issues for his constituents, and maintaining a thorough base of knowledge about issues of such importance reigns paramount.

We think it’s time he moves on.

Back on the Democratic side of the ticket, council candidate Bill Bianchi would bring 22 years’ experience as a state assemblyman to Town Hall, but he’s been unable to articulate in any detail his accomplishments in state office or exactly how that experience would translate into his Town Council work. He has said he knows how to work across party lines, but it seems that fighting within political parties poses more of a challenge for Riverhead. Mr. Bianchi’s experience in Albany, we imagine, could prove useful as the town continues to work with the state on the effort to redevelop the EPCAL land — but, so far, Mr. Walter, state Senator Ken LaValle and Assemblyman Fred Thiele seem to be moving along just fine. Introducing a new personality coming out of Town Hall could disrupt that chemistry.

08/23/13 10:00am
08/23/2013 10:00 AM
Suffolk Theater in Riverhead

KATHARINE SCHROEDER FILE PHOTO | The Suffolk Theater’s grand re-opening night in February.

The first of two town political debates being sponsored by local media and held at the historic Suffolk Theater will see two Democratic primary supervisor candidates square off, followed by three Republican primary hopefuls for town council.

The debate, sponsored by Riverhead News-Review and RiverheadLOCAL.com, will start at 7 p.m. this coming Monday, Aug. 26. Doors open at 5 p.m.

There will be a suggested $5 donation at the door, with all proceeds going to Brendan House, New Beginnings.

“We’re very excited to be working together to bring these debates to the public,” said Times/Review Newsgroup executive editor Grant Parpan. “Given the current political climate in this town, there’s no doubt these events will be good shows worthy of the theater’s grand stage.”

Both debates will be moderated by Mr. Parpan, RiverheadLOCAL editor and publisher Denise Civiletti and News-Review editor Michael White.

“Riverhead is at a crossroads,” Ms. Civiletti said. “The next town board will be making crucial decisions that will affect our future for generations to come. Voters need to know where the candidates stand on important local issues.”

Monday’s debate will feature Democratic supervisor candidates Ann Cotten-DeGrasse and Angela Devito, followed by Republican town council candidates Anthony Coates, John Dunleavy and Jodi Giglio,

The Democratic candidates will debate first, for about 45 to 50 minutes, followed by the Republican candidates. Those arriving early for the second debate may be asked to wait in the theater’s lobby area, as to not disturb the first round of candidates.

All questions for the debates have been prepared in advance, and were written by readers as well as the moderators. All candidates will be given time to make closing statements. No outside video recording of the event is allowed.

The theater’s bar and restaurant will be open at that time, but shut down during the debates, which are scheduled to run until 9 p.m.

The theater’s bar and restaurant will re-open after 9 p.m.

09/11/12 2:00pm
09/11/2012 2:00 PM

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Richard Wines, chairman of the Landmarks Preservation Commission, motions toward The Riverhead Project restaurant in the downtown historic district.

Local government officials and business owners unveiled signage along Riverhead’s East Main Street Tuesday morning to mark the newly-recognized downtown historic district, which was added to the National Register last month.

Four Town Council members, downtown Business Improvement District president Ray Pickersgill, The Riverhead Project restaurant owner Dennis McDermott and members of the town’s Landmarks Preservation Commission gathered outside the restaurant to praise the work of the commission in getting the coveted designation for downtown businesses.

The area along East Main Street was added to the National Registry in August, and is now eligible for tax credits.

Twenty signs, paid for by the Riverhead BID, will be posted along the streets, officials said.

The first sign was posted near the building housing The Riverhead Project on East Main Street. The mid-century modern building was built in 1962 and was home to several banks until it was converted into a restaurant in 2011.

“By having signs up people will look around and say ‘Oh wow, this really is historic,’ ” said Landmarks Preservation Commission chairman Richard Wines. “People like history, but they have to see it.”

A brief moment of silence was held before the ceremony to honor all of those, including office workers, police officers, firefighters, first responders and their families, affected by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks that occurred 11 years ago.

psquire@timesreview.com