The incumbents are out.
Well, at least until primary season.
Riverhead Republicans announced their slate for town board Tuesday night, nominating Councilwoman Jodi Giglio by a half a point over current supervisor Sean Walter to lead the ticket as their supervisor candidate, with retired Riverhead police officers Robert Peeker and Tim Hubbard running for town board seats, beating out incumbent Councilman Jim Wooten.
During the roll call for supervisor, the mood in the room was tense for more than 10 minutes, with Ms. Giglio eventually leading by half a vote at the end of the night. One voter had abstained — Tracy Stark-James — and, unsure if a candidate could win without a majority, Suffolk County Republican attorneys were contacted as Ms. Giglio didn’t have more than half of the vote.
Ms. Stark James declined to comment to a News-Review reporter.
Ms. Giglio said the nomination was “nerve-wracking.”
“You know that you’re in it for all the right reasons and you just hope the committee people are in it for the right reasons and the votes reflect what’s best for the taxpayers for the town of Riverhead,” she said.
She officially ended with half-a-vote more than Mr. Walter — 1687.5 to 1687 — and ultimately secured the nomination. Votes are tallied in the town’s 22 districts in a weighted fashion — not unlike the Electoral College — based on how many Republican votes were cast in each district’s last gubernatorial race. So, one committee person’s vote can weigh anywhere from 11 points to 168.5 points.
“Even a half a point says a lot,” said Ms. Giglio.
Ms. Giglio’s nomination comes months after she said she was eyeing the current supervisor’s seat. The two have been at odds for years, both politically and personally — to the point where the councilwoman filed a harassment complaint against Mr. Walter in 2012.
In 2009, Ms. Giglio and Mr. Walter both sought the Republican nomination for supervisor against then-incumbent Democrat Phil Cardinale. The committee eventually went with Mr. Walter for supervisor and Ms. Giglio for council.
“I will save my comments for a press conference toward the end of the week,” Mr. Walter said. “I appreciate the support, the past support and the support I know 50 percent of you will give me.”
The current all-Republican Town Board has had the same five members since 2010, though that won’t be the case come January 1, 2016.
Both Mr. Peeker and Mr. Hubbard are running to fill two seats on the board: the seat that will be left vacant after Councilman George Gabrielsen announced last month he’s not seeking re-election and the seat currently occupied by Councilman James Wooten.
Mr. Peeker is a retired lieutenant and Mr. Hubbard, who previously served on the Riverhead Board of Education, is a retired detective.
“It’s great to have the support of the party,” said Mr. Hubbard. Pointing to his family’s history in Riverhead — which he said dates back to at least the early 1700s — he said, “it’s kind of like my town. I don’t think it’s anybody else’s town.”
He’s had an uncle, Seth Hubbard, who served as town attorney, however none have served on the town board.
Mr. Peeker said in a speech to the committee that “I’m definitely in this for the long haul to make this town better than it already is.”
Mr. Wooten, also a retired cop, came in third in the party votes and wasn’t nominated.
“I was a little shocked,” he said after the vote.
Mr. Wooten said he’d been approached by several people to run in a primary, but said he would “sleep on it” before making a decision.
“My initial reaction was to go win my seat back, but in politics you have to weigh whether or not you’re doing the right thing,” he said. “At the end of the day I can hold my head high.”
Town Attorney Bob Kozakiewicz won the committee’s support for an open town justice seat, left vacant with the retirement of Justice Richard Ehlers. Mr. Kozakiewicz beat out Lori Hulse, a board of education member and assistant town attorney in Southold, and Mary Hartill, a former deputy town attorney who’s involved with the town’s youth court program.