Guest Spot: It’s all about community involvement

The role of the Riverhead Republican Committee and its members is to advance the platform and the ideologies of the Republican Party on a local level.

This is accomplished by members of the committee engaging with residents of both their community and their respective election districts at several points throughout the year.

Whether it is during the petition process, distributing literature during election seasons, screening candidates for elected office, or simply bringing forth the concerns of our neighbors to either elected officials or town departments, the role of a committee person is deeply embedded in active community involvement.

Recently, you published an article titled, “Town Republican committee kicks out Supervisor Walter supporters,” where it was implied that those members of the committee who did not support the incumbent town supervisor were inadvertently “kicked” off the committee. This is not entirely accurate as there are numerous others who supported the incumbent still serving on the committee.

Outgoing committee person Kyle Conklin stated in the article that, “They say it was about work, but I worked harder than 50 percent of people on that committee.” Mr. Conklin is entitled to his own opinion but he is certainly not entitled to his own set of facts.

As committee records indicate, Mr. Conklin attended less than 20 percent of Riverhead Town Republican Committee meetings during his tenure from September 2013 through May 2015 and assisted with election duties one morning during the 2013 election cycle. Mr. Conklin was approached on several occasions regarding taking a more active role within the committee, but never demonstrated any interest in doing so, beyond casting his vote at the town convention.

The committee therefore believed that the residents of his election district would be better served by being represented by committee people who are more actively involved. This belief was further confirmed by the fact that Mr. Conklin failed to secure enough signatures to validate his seat for another term, according to Board of Election records.

It is also important to further note that while the nomination for supervisor was decided by half a vote, the lion’s share of Mr. Walter’s supporters are still designated members of the committee, because they bring tremendous value in the form of community involvement. Those members will continue to maintain their committee seats for another term based on the fact that they secured the necessary number of signatures required by law to do so.

There has also been an onslaught of recent attacks directed at the chairman of our committee and Riverhead Assessor Mason Haas. While we understand and respect the rationale of separating political committee positions from town appointments, to state that, “When you are an elected official, you are a de facto policy maker,” as Supervisor Walter did in a recent article, implies the assessor’s office is a policy-making office. This is patently false. Not all elected positions are policy-making positions, including the assessor’s office and the office of the town clerk and the tax receiver. These are administrative offices. Period.

To insinuate that the assessor and party chair can arbitrarily raise a resident or entities assessment randomly is incorrect. Furthermore, there is no evidence of such acts ever being committed within the assessor’s office. Mr. Haas’ record of commitment to the Town of Riverhead and its residents is why he is our chairman and why we would hope that he pursues every possible method to maintain that position.

The Riverhead Town Republican Committee continues to be an organization that is always seeking the best and most active community members to represent the 22 election districts within the Town of Riverhead regardless of which candidate or prospective candidates they may support. We understand that differing opinions is what allows us to ascertain the best candidates for elected office and assemble the most talented and effective slate for the residents of the Town of Riverhead.

The author is a Riverhead Republican committeeman.