Supervisor candidates making their election pitch

10/28/2011 11:00 AM |

Riverhead Town Supervisor candidates Greg Fischer, Phil Cardinale and Sean Walter.

Sean Walter (R)

A Wading River resident, former deputy town attorney and former town Conservative Party chairman, he seeks his second two-year supervisor term.

Occupation: Attorney

His pitch: Mr. Walter boasts that in a down economy, there are signs of progress on “what matters most” to Riverhead residents: downtown, EPCAL, town finances and preserving our way of life, though not necessarily in that order. On downtown, he points to new building projects and new stores and restaurants on Main Street. He says the town is “charting a new course” on EPCAL in partnering with state agencies and getting a comprehensive environmental land use study done that will allow the town to “finally” market the land and sell it to private developers. He also points to partnerships between the town and county to purchase open space and farmland, including the North Fork Preserve. He often says his way is working, while former supervisor Phil Cardinale, his opponent, had already tried “his way” but downtown languished and no land was sold at EPCAL.

Stinging soundbite:  “The only ribbon Phil has ever cut was on a Christmas present.”

If elected: He will work to get state legislation in place to allow for 75-day approvals on projects proposed for the Enterprise Park at Calverton.

Phil Cardinale (D)

A former town councilman and three-term Riverhead supervisor from Jamesport was defeated by Mr. Walter in the 2009 election. Also previously served as a Suffolk County assistant district attorney.

Occupation: Attorney

His pitch: Mr. Cardinale often notes that while he was supervisor, Riverhead received two credit score upgrades. He says his work on real estate contracts is why today the town is sitting on a healthy surplus. He’s running for his old job because he’s watched “a lot of what I did undone, a lot of what I’ve cared most about, torn apart” since leaving office. He says his government was always honest and open, and that he didn’t work a second job, as his opponent does. He also criticizes the sitting supervisor for “crying poverty and saying the sky was falling” after taking office in January 2010, at which time auditors later said the town had a $15 million surplus. Mr. Cardinale also says every current building project downtown had started or was in the works while he was still in office.

Stinging soundbite: “If [Sean Walter] gets to those remaining doors [to knock on], he’ll actually lose votes.”

If elected: He will hire “a trained city manager or town manager” while reducing the supervisor’s support staff by one employee.

Greg Fischer (Riverhead First)

A Calverton resident who has run for other offices, though unsuccessfully, he is known for filing a lawsuit that got then-Democratic state Senate nominee Regina Calcaterra removed from the 2010 ballot over residency issues.

Occupation: Self-employed, business consulting

His pitch: Mr. Fischer ran unsuccessfully against Mr. Cardinale in a Democratic primary in September, though he is challenging those election results in court. Says his opponents “blame each other’s performances, but don’t fix the underlying problems.” The top of his Riverhead First party platform includes a plan to create a municipal power authority in Riverhead, which he says would “slash electric rates for all residents” — something his opponents have scoffed at. He also wants to create a “vacancy tax” on commercial real estate to help condemn buildings. He says he once ran a “whistle-blowing newspaper” and plans to publish once again in 2012. Active in politics for years, he created the Riverhead First party after acquiring the required signatures and getting Board of Elections approval.

Stinging soundbite: “An LED light at the Suffolk Theatre makes for a pretty photo op, but it’s not a resurgence.”

If elected: “We will have waves and waves of open government.”