NYC lawyer Ron Hariri eyes supervisor run as Democrat


Outspoken North Fork resident and NYC lawyer Ron Hariri is looking into a possible Riverhead Town supervisor run this fall.

Mr. Hariri, a registered Republican who owns homes in Laurel and Aquebogue, said he plans to switch his voter registration to Democrat in hopes of being nominated by the Riverhead Democratic Committee.

First-term Supervisor Sean Walter, a Republican, is up for re-election this year.

“I am frustrated and appalled by the dysfunctional character of our [all-Republican] Town Board,” Mr. Hariri said of his intent to switch parties and run for office. “I’ve been watching reckless, irrational decisions and I think it’s time for me to step up to the plate.”

Mr. Hariri, 53, is perhaps best known locally for his regular — and at times incendiary — phone calls to Riverhead-based radio station WRIV 1390 AM. The calls are mostly critical of town government.

Democratic Committee chairman Vinny Villella said Mr. Hariri has a small group of supporters within the committee who are encouraging him to run. But he said Mr. Hariri will have to go through the candidate screening process, which will begin sometime this month and end in April. He also noted the committee does not turn down any person looking to be screened with the group. Mr. Hariri has indicated that he would delegate his work at his law firm while in office.

Mr. Villella, also a former Republican, switched parties in 1997 when he successfully ran for Riverhead Town Supervisor. “It was a big challenge,” he said of the move, adding that when he ran, the Democrats didn’t have any other potential supervisor candidates.

Mr. Hariri, who reportedly interviewed with the Democratic Committee to run for Town Board in 2009, said he would seek the endorsement of town Republicans and the Independence Party if he fails to get the Democratic nomination.

Recently elected Republican Chairman John Galla declined to comment directly on Mr. Hariri’s intent to run.

“It’s a intra-Democrat party issue at this point,” Mr. Galla said.

Although there are three Republicans on the Town Board — the supervisor and Councilmen Jim Wooten and George Gabrielsen — who are up for reelection this year, Mr. Galla said the Republicans will screen any potential candidates, as is tradition. He added that the committee is “very happy with [their] incumbents.”

Mr. Hariri, who heads the New York City-based law firm Ronald D. Hariri & Associates, said his campaign will be largely financed through his own funds.

“We feel we don’t need to seek substantial funding from anyone,” he said.

A release issued last night announced that Mr. Hariri had formed “an exploratory committee to consider a bid for Supervisor or Town Council” which he said Monday morning meant he had tapped political advisers to map out the best course of action for his candidacy.

Mr. Hariri lives with his longtime partner, Colleen O’Brien, in Aquebogue. He is a graduate of Columbia University and Columbia Law School.

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