Relative political newcomers Marlando Williams and Matt Van Glad are the Riverhead Democratic Committee’s picks to run for seats on the Town Board this November.
The pair edged out a third candidate, Ron Hariri, a lawyer and outspoken critic of both Sean Walter and former supervisor Phil Cardinale, during Tuesday night’s Democratic convention at The Pizza Pie in Wading River.
Mr. Hariri and Mr. Williams were the screening committee’s choices for council, although Mr. Van Glad had screened for supervisor.
Committee members, who cast votes on behalf of electoral districts in town, ultimately determine who the committee will support. Mr. Williams received 4,341.5 weighted electoral votes, Mr. Van Glad received 3,419.5 votes and Mr. Hariri trailed the pack with just 912.5 votes.
So, who are Mr. Van Glad and Mr. Williams?
Matt Van Glad
Matt Van Glad, 39, has performed in North Fork Community Theatre productions, sings with the Riverhead Building Supply gospel singers and considers himself an all-around artist.
An upstate transplant, he said he thinks his personality would be a good fit for the Town Board.
“I have studied Riverhead politics for the last 10 years,” he told the News-Review. “I feel I can make a positive impact on this town by listening.”
Politics runs in the family for Mr. Van Glad, who also works as a fuel deliveryman. His brother Anthony is supervisor of Gilboa Town in upstate New York.
“I have lived in Riverhead since 1998 and have been active in politics my whole life,” Mr. Van Glad wrote in a letter to the media Tuesday night.
He lives in Riverhead with his wife, Venus.
Though Mr. Van Glad was nominated from the floor — first for supervisor, which he declined, and then for council — and was not the screening committee’s choice for town council candidate, he had brought along several wooden signs and T-shirts bearing his name, which he distributed to committee members after the convention.
“He did that before he was even screening,” said Democratic Chairman Vinny Villella said. “I think he was jumping the gun.”
This is not the first run for public office for Marlando Williams, 49, a retired New York State Police officer, so he’s not as big an unknown as Mr. Van Glad. In 2009, backed by the teachers union, Mr. Williams made an unsuccessful bid for a seat on the Riverhead Board of Education.
Mr. Williams has lived in Baiting Hollow with his wife, Sandra, since 2007. He has an adult daughter and a son who is a freshman at Bishop McGann-Mercy High School in Riverhead.
Other than the Democratic Committee, he said he is not affiliated with any other organizations in town.
For Mr. Williams, the most pressing issue town residents face is rising taxes.
“There’s a lack of leadership and integrity in government,” he said. “I think we can do better.”
He cited his experience in law enforcement as one of the things that qualifies him to run for office.
“I think I bring integrity to the position,” he said. “I have a sense of what is right and wrong.”