Wooten no longer seeking Riverhead tax receiver position

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Councilman James Wooten (left) at the Town board work session in 2011.
BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Councilman James Wooten (left) at the Town board work session in 2011.

Riverhead Councilman James Wooten has taken himself out of contention for the town tax receiver nomination, he said in a statement Friday.

Mr. Wooten’s name was one of the first to crop up as news broke in June that tax receiver Maryann Wowak Heilbrunn would be retiring.

Mr. Wooten at the time said he was approached by Republican committee members about the open position, and that it was “an honor” to be considered.

“I’ve always been one-on-one with people,” he said in June. “[The position] totally fits my personality.”

In Friday’s statement, he said he declined the Riverhead Republican Committee’s offer to seek nomination to fill the job.

Had Mr. Wooten been nominated for the full-time position, he would have had to run again in November, but at a great advantage as the incumbent.

“After long and serious thought, along with discussions with my family, friends, and many residents of this town, I believe that I can better serve this community as a current member of the Town Board where I can work to achieve the very best for each of our taxpayers,” Mr. Wooten’s statement reads. “I have my family’s full support on this decision.”

A campaign spokesman, Jack Kratoville, issued the release.

“At first blush he said, yeah, sure. But as time went on he thought, you know what? The people of Riverhead elected me  councilman,” Mr. Kratoville said. “And there are a lot of other people whose names have also been mentioned who he thought would be good as well.”

Mr. Wooten, who last year announced he would be seeking the GOP nod to run for supervisor over incumbent and fellow Republican Sean Walter, is the only councilmember to have an active campaign so far in this non-election year, campaign fillings show.

Mr. Wooten eventually backed down in his supervisor run and Mr. Walter won election to a second term.

When asked earlier this month if he was stockpiling money for a supervisor run in 2013, he said, “I like to always keep my options open.”

Mr. Kratoville said that, when asked about Mr. Wooten possibly running for supervisor, “At this moment in time, there was no other motivation other than he felt that staying put was what he wanted to do. And he wanted to announce this formally.”

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Read more in the Aug. 2 News-Review newspaper.