Walter, Wooten to run as a pair in fall primary

Supervisor Sean Walter and Councilman James Wooten smiled and posed for photos after a meeting in 2011. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch file)
Supervisor Sean Walter and Councilman James Wooten smiled and posed for photos after a meeting in 2011. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch file)

After they both lost their party’s nomination for re-election last week, Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter and Councilman Jim Wooten intend to run as a pair in primaries this fall against the party favorites.

Mr. Walter, running for his fourth two-year term in office, lost by half a gubernatorial vote to party-nominee Jodi Giglio, and said on Friday he hopes to get the nomination of the Independence and Conservative parties.

Instead of the incumbent councilman Mr. Wooten, the GOP committee went with retired police officers Tim Hubbard and Bob Peeker to fill Mr. Wooten’s seat, as well as the one currently belonging to Councilman George Gabrielsen, who is not running for re-election.

Mr. Walter had left last Tuesday’s Republican convention without indicating his next move.

Then on Friday, he told the News-Review “there will be a primary.”

“I’ve got a couple of irons in the fire,” he said. “I’ve got my petitions just about ready, and we’re working on it.”

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The supervisor said last Friday that in addition to Mr. Wooten, he was hoping another person — who he did not identify — would run alongisde him against the committee’s candidates.

Mr. Wooten confirmed that he would run with Mr. Walter via text message on Monday, adding, “I owe it to my family and my supporters to give them a choice as to who they want to represent them on the local level. I will wage a primary.”

The voting for nominations is done by committee members who each represent the number of votes in the their district in the last gubernatorial election. Thus, one person might represent 143 votes while another person represents only 11.

Mr. Walter also said one Republican committeeman who voted for Ms. Giglio and who is listed by the Board of Elections as living in Jamesport actually lives in Huntington Station, although he added that he doesn’t plan to take legal action on that.

“It just goes to the fact that Republican committee chair Mason Haas doesn’t play by the rules and the rules don’t apply to him. He’s looking for a town supervisor — and he’s going to find one in Jodi Giglio — that will do whatever he says,” Mr. Walter said. “I don’t represent the Republican party. I represent the people.”

Ms. Giglio said that’s not so.

“I’m not beholden to anybody,” she said Tuesday. “I’m beholden to the taxpayers of this town and I’m trying to get this town back on good financial footing.”

She said she thinks the town needs a businessperson as supervisor.

Mr. Haas said, “Maybe Sean should be accountable for his relationship with the committee and stop blaming everyone but himself. The committee was split 50-50. Clearly not everyone agrees with me.”

The current Town Board, which is all Republican, has been the same since 2010.

During that time, Ms. Giglio and Mr. Walter have waged numerous public battles.

In 2009, Ms. Giglio had actually sought the Republican nomination for supervisor, as did Mr. Walter, who had indicated he would run a primary if he wasn’t nominated.

The Republican committee that year eventually convinced Ms. Giglio to run for council, and nominated Mr. Walter for supervisor.

The Riverhead Democrats, meanwhile, nominated Mr. Walter’s former campaign adviser to run for supervisor.

Anthony Coates, who was once paid $1,000 per month from Mr. Walter’s campaign fund for political advice, was the choice of the Democratic committee last Tuesday at Polish Town Civic Association headquarters.

Two years ago, Mr. Coates changed his registration to Republican in order to run a primary against Ms. Giglio and incumbent John Dunleavy for council, but was overwhelmingly defeated.

The Democrats chose Laura Jens-Smith of Laurel, who is a project coordinator for the North Fork Alliance as well as a member of the Mattituck-Cutchogue school board, and Neil Krupnick, a television producer and president of the Northville Beach Civic Association, for council.

At Thursday’s Town Board work session, Mr. Hubbard, Mr. Peeker and Ms. Jens-Smith were all in the audience.

“It’s exciting to have all these candidates with us for Town Board,” Mr. Walter said facetiously before the meeting. “It’s such a great time.”

Correction: A previous version of this article stated that Mr. Coates was the unanimous choice for supervisor by the Democrats.