Riverhead GOP’s tax receiver choice must run on independent line

Laurie Zaneski of Aquebogue will be the choice of the Riverhead Republican Committee to run for tax receiver, it was decided by the committee this week.


But because of a “snafu” with nominating petition deadlines, she won’t officially have the Republican line on the ballot for the November special election.

Instead, she’ll be running on the Riverhead Taxpayers First line, an independent line set up by the Riverhead Republican Committee, said town GOP chairman John Galla.

The tax receiver election is a special election to fill the position vacated by the resignation of longtime Riverhead tax receiver Maryanne Heilbrunn, who stepped down at the end of June. Ms. Zaneski is currently the town’s deputy tax receiver

“The date and timing issue was a snafu and it effects all of the parties, Democrats, Republicans and so on,” Mr. Galla said.
GOP vice chairman George Harkin said that had Ms. Heilbrunn resigned a few days later than she did, her resignation would have fallen within seven days of the deadline for petitions, which would have enabled the Republicans, as well as the Democrats or other traditional parties, to file for a certificate of nomination. That would have allowed the parties to put a candidate on the ballot without needing nominating petitions, he said.

As it were, they did not realize this at the time, as Ms. Heilbrunn’s resignation was unexpected, Mr. Harkin said.

The deadline for constituted parties, such as the Republicans and Democrats, to file petitions to run candidates was July 12, while the deadline for independent parties is Aug. 21, according to Bill Ellis, the Republican deputy commissioner at the Suffolk County Board of Elections.

Mr. Ellis said these deadlines have not changed this year.

The committee voted on the nomination at its Wednesday night meeting.

The Town Board members were all elected with Republican backing, but Supervisor Sean Walter said he’s not sure if the board will appoint Ms. Zaneski to the vacant tax receiver post prior to the November election.

Most town elections were held in 2011 and will be held again in 2013. Town Justice Allen Smith also is up for reelection on this November’s ballot.

“The Riverhead Republican committee is fortunate that we have a deep bench,” Mr. Galla said. “All three ladies that we screened were just the greatest potential nominees that anyone could ask for. They all have superb backgrounds and experiences, but there was overwhelming support for Laurie. She’s on the job doing the job.”

“It’s exciting,” Ms. Zaneski said of her first run for an elected office. “I’m learning a lot because I’m not political at all. It’s a little scary, but exciting. I’m looking forward to it. I’ve been doing the job for 8 eight years and since June 30, I’ve been doing it by myself. The people already know me. I’m hoping I have their confidence.”

Prior to working for the town, Ms. Zaneski worked at Cablevision in Riverhead as the secretary to the director of operations, and before that, she worked for Central Suffolk Hospital (now Peconic Bay Medical Center).

She’s been involved in many parent-teacher groups and booster clubs in the Riverhead School District and has three children in school.

Her oldest daughter, Jocelyn, will be a senior this fall and was a member of the Long Island champion girls basketball team this past school year.

Her husband, Kevin, is a 25-year member of the Riverhead Volunteer Fire Department and has worked as a New York City firefighter for the past 16 years.

The Riverhead Democratic party also has not submitted petitions, and also missed the July 12 deadline.

Riverhead Democratic Committee chairman Vinny Villela says the Democrats have a screening committee that is interviewing candidates for the tax receiver nomination.

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