Former supervisor elected to lead Riverhead Town Democrats

TIM GANNON PHOTO Vinny Villella succeeds Butch Langhorn, who resigned after 10 years, as chairman of the Riverhead Democratic Committee.

Former Riverhead supervisor Vinny Villella was elected chairman of the Riverhead Democratic Committee at a Wading River pizzeria Monday, and Mr. Villella said his party intends to make an issue of the all-Republican Town Board’s “dismantling” of the town’s master plan.
“It’s like a slap in my face,” said Mr. Villella, “We started that master plan all those years ago, now they’re just giving zoning away like lollypops,” he said. “It’s not fair. They’re telling developers you can do what you want.”
The effort to update the master plan effort actually started during the Stark administration, two years before Mr. Villella took office in 1998. It was completed during the administration of Phil Cardinale in 2003.
Democratic committee members, who met at The Pizza Pie on Sound Road, said they plan to lobby against commercial development on Park Road and Sound Avenue, because the proposed commercial development there goes against the recommendation of the master plan consultants. They also cited the proposed town code amendments at the Great Rock golf club in Wading River, the Aquebogue Mews commercial zoning proposal on Route 25 and the Zoning Board of Appeals decision to allow outdoor events at the Jedediah Hawkins Inn in Jamesport.
Mr. Villella said the town budget is another issue Democrats plan to campaign on. Mr. Cardinale, who is now a committee member and was at Monday’s meeting, said there was an $8 million surplus in the town budget when he left office in December, and that was after the Town Board had applied $4 million in surplus funds to offset tax increases for 2010.
Current Supervisor Sean Walter has repeatedly said during his first year in office that the town budget has a $6.9 million deficit due to the use of one-shot revenues by Mr. Cardinale’s administration.
“We’re going to let the people of this town know what’s right and what’s wrong,” Mr. Villella said.
Mr. Villella succeeds Butch Langhorn, who resigned as committee chair after 10 years. As reasons for stepping down, Mr. Langhorn cited health issues and the fact that he had never intended to serve very long. Despite this, he recently agreed to take the position of vice-chairman of the Suffolk County Democratic Committee. Mr. Langhorn said he was surprised when county chairman Richard Schafer offered him the position and says it’s a much less stressful position than that of town leader.
Mr. Villella owned Villella Shoes from 1970 to 1998, was town supervisor for two years and now works for the Suffolk County Board of Elections.
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