Three screen with GOP in hopes of replacing Wooten

04/14/2011 11:16 PM |

If Councilman Jim Wooten earns the Republican nod for town supervisor, or falls off the ticket altogether, someone will need to fill his spot as councilman on the GOP slate in November.

On Thursday, three potential candidates stepped forward to screen for that opportunity.

The Riverhead Republican Committee met with a total of five Town Board candidates Thursday at the American Legion, including Mr. Wooten — who will have to fight to run for reelection as councilman if he fails to win the supervisor nod over incumbent Sean Walter — and George Gabrielsen, whose term also expires this year.

The three challengers who screened Thursday are Brian Mills, a financial adviser from Wading River who heads the Riverhead Republican Club; former deputy town attorney Mary Hartill of Wading River; and Bob Weir of Baiting Hollow, a marketing and design firm owner who screened for a Republican council nomination in 2009 as well.

Mr. Wooten said that although he screened to maintain his council seat, he still has his eye on the supervisor’s office.

“I’m seeking the nomination for supervisor,” he reiterated.

Mr. Wooten said he received applause from the Republican committee after he addressed them Thursday night.

Mr. Walter, meanwhile, has said that if Mr. Wooten doesn’t get the committee’s nod for supervisor, he shouldn’t be considered for the council seat either.

Mr. Walter said before the screenings that Mr. Wooten might have trouble running on his record as a Town Board member.

“He’s had one signature issue for 3 1/2 years, and that’s the animal shelter,” Mr. Walter said.

In addition to Mr. Walter and Mr. Wooten, a third candidate, former Conservative Party leader Warren McKnight, screened for the Republican Supervisor nod Thursday night.

The Republican chair, John Galla, said the event, which was unprecedented in the local GOP group because it was open to all committee members, went smoothly without any yelling or shouting. He said a lot of tough questions were asked of those who wish to seek office.

Now, he said, it’s up to those who were screened to lobby individual committee members — some of whom have more gubernatorial votes than others — through phone, email or in-person before the May 11 nominating convention at the Elks Lodge on West Main Street.

What will happen to Mr. Wooten if he fails to win the supervisor nomination is still up in the air.

Mr. Galla admitted that much of what happens with Mr. Wooten will have to do with the order of which positions are voted on by the 40 committee members. If the group votes on the councilman nominations first, Mr. Wooten would have to step aside if he’s seeking the supervisor nomination. And if he doesn’t get the supervisor vote, he could be off the ticket.

“All I can say to you is,” Mr. Galla said, when asked about the order, which has not been determined. “I want to do what’s going to be the fairest thing. We’re obviously going to have to research our bylaws. And if there’s any sensitive questions, I would be the first one to say that it might be a long convention. It could be really contentious…it might be  long and cumbersome night. It might be a long eventing. But so be it.”

Reached by phone Friday, Mr. Mills, one of those who screened for councilman, acknowledged that his fate and all those who screened is tied to Mr. Wooten.

“Everything would depend on what happens with Jim,” he said. “And Jim’s a great guy as well. And I said to him, ‘I really believe you have what’s best for the town at heart.’ And I told him, ‘If you were to end up as the nominee for council, I obviously would support you. I wouldn’t run a primary.”

Democratic chairman Vinny Villella said his party won’t begin screening candidates for two more weeks.

[email protected]

TIM GANNON FILE PHOTO | John Galla (left) and Councilman George Gabrielsen after Mr. Galla was elected Republican chairman last month.



13 Comment

  • Sean, what is your signature issue? Ruining the town? Protecting Mr. Rothaar?? Getting all the town employees to despise you, and causing internal discord in the process???

  • Just months after a Republican landslide, the repulsive Supervisor of Sand has transformed the party into a bad reality TV show with Walter’s conservative thugs threatening to split the ticket assuring a disaster in November.

    Although his 4 year record as Councilman is less than impressive, Wooten deserves credit for having the courage to say the repulsive Walter and his political conscience need to get dumped.

  • There are some very capable Riverhead public servants that would provide our town with outstanding leadership. The three names that come to mind are Allen Smith, Rose Sanders and Barbara Blass. They all love their town , are intelligent, thoughtful and have already proven that they have excellent leadership skills.

  • Riverhead taxpayers are paying in excess of $10,000 a day for the failed reclamation thanks to the inept Llama Ladies and years of planning by Blass created the joke of Route 58 and a Downtown in ruins.

  • I believe an engineering firm was found liable for the failed reclamation project . Your facts may not be correct. Name calling in a forum like this is not necessary. Shame on you.

  • no more lawyers. is Wooten the best qualified ? don’t think so. Come on Riverhead ?
    There are some qualified people in this Town that should step up to the plate ( not Rose S. or
    Barbara Blass again either ! ) Its time for a long over due change at the top !
    Main St. is a mess, the Police Station and Justice Dept. should be and stay downtown !
    The Old Riverhead Fire House is the perfect spot ! Rt. 58 is too busy and will get even more busy when and if the Police and Justice Dept. move to 58.

  • Maybe we can get into Rose’s double-dipping and Seaman (and I don’t mean the Navy) so go home and tell the girls to take up knitting.

    But the judge is a class act.

  • That’s a job well done. Congratulations to Major Grigonis and his crew.

  • Congratulations ranking #1 reflects well directed efforts.

    I wonder if anyone has looked into the costs of this program?
    In many cases JROTC programs cost more per-pupil than non-military academic and local school districts end up paying substantially more than the cost estimates.

  • Benja, you need to come sit and talk with me some day……..Obviously you are not too well schooled on the funding and costs of the NJROTC Program. We could have a cup of coffee on me ( not the school district or taxpayer or the Navy). Semper Fi, Major Grigonis:-)))

  • Benja, you need to come sit and talk with me some day……..Major Grigonis:-)))

  • Benja, My momma taught me to think before I speak.

    Congrats Mattituck-Southold-Greenport NJROTC!


  • My husband and I are both alumni of the program (he was Southold and I was Mattituck). We were in when Chief Clausen and Cheif Sumwalt were our instructors. We will both tell you this program changes lives. It got me on the right path. I went on to college and am now a teacher myself where I have a picture of myself and Chief Sumwalt on my desk to remind me how a teacher can change lives. I loved every minitue of it. I think I was only only cadet who begged to go to mini bootcamp every year.

    11 years later I am even prouder to say I am an alumni of this unit.

    ~ Former Cadet Lt. Carolyn Brannon (now Kramkowski) former Executive Officer