Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter and Councilwoman Jodi Giglio traded barbs during their first, and so far only, debate on Wednesday morning on WRIV 1390.
The two are running against each other in a Sept. 10 primary for supervisor.
Mr. Walter, the incumbent since 2010, did not get his party’s support for reelection, and Ms. Giglio, who has been a councilwoman since 2010, was given the Republican committee nod for supervisor.
Here’s what they had to say:
Ms. Giglio said the town’s budget reserves decreased from $15 million to $1 million in the six years Mr. Walter has been supervisor and said that development of the Enterprise Park at Calverton has taken too long under Mr. Walter. The town has paid more than $580,000 to consultants on the EPCAL subdivision and environmental study since 2011 and she said Mr. Walter is not checking on the progress of the job.
“People are frustrated with the progress of the EPCAL subdivision,” she said.
Mr. Walter acknowledged the EPCAL work has taken longer than expected but he said it should be done by the end of this year.
“I wish it had gone faster but this is the largest industrial subdivision in New York State.”
He said the site is being marketed now, and that the things proposed “are going to blow your mind,” although he said he can’t publicly disclose them now.
Mr. Walter said the town has $2.5 million in reserve funds left, and that the budget is balanced this year and will be next year, so the town won’t need to use anymore surplus funds to offset taxes, as it has done in recent years.
He said the town had reduced the number of employees it has from 330 to 280 since he’s been supervisor, and has increased the tax base. Ms. Giglio, he said, has not offered any any budget amendments to his budget proposals.
Ms. Giglio said she proposed $300,000 worth of budget cuts last year but couldn’t get enough votes for it to pass.
On the subject of the Suffolk County Police allegedly wanting to take over the Riverhead Police — an allegation Mr. Walter has thrown out after a Suffolk PBA-funded group launched an ad campaign against the supervisor — Ms. Giglio denied that she has a deal with the Suffolk County PBA to turn the town police department over to the county, and she said she doesn’t support doing that.
“He’s making up stories to scare people because he can’t run on his record,” she said of the supervisor.
Mr. Walter said the county PBA has backed Ms. Giglio, and he believes they will expect something in return. (County PBA officials also have publicly denied such a plan.)
Ms. Giglio did say she feels the town police department is “poorly managed,” and she feels having the Guardian Angels in town “is not the answer.”
As far as why the town hasn’t acted sooner on businesses like the Royal Dorado, which had extensive violations, Mr. Walter said it takes time to build a case with the State Liquor Authority that will result in the business loosing its liquor license.
Ms. Giglio said she proposed a new computer system which would connect planning and building and code enforcement so that the town will know when buildings lack permits. Mr. Walter refused to sign the purchase order for it, despite board support at the time, and later convinced the other board members besides Ms. Giglio to change their minds, she said, adding that he then used the $30,000 allocated for the purchase to give out salary increases to certain town employees.
“It’s time to put a business person in Town Hall,” Ms. Giglio said in her closing remarks.
Mr. Walter said downtown Riverhead has improved since he’s been in office and will continue to do so, with apartments and stores planned for the former Sear’s building.