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In open letter, Riverhead GOP chair Mason Haas announces he’ll step aside

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Mason Haas in his office in Town Hall.

Riverhead Republican Committee Chairman Mason Haas has announced he’s stepping down from the position as his term expires.

In an open letter, Mr. Haas says the decision not to seek reelection to the position was made “for both my family and my reputation.”

Mr Haas had tussled with Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter over a recently passed town ethics law that would have forced him to resign from either the party leadership or his elected tax assessor position. He recently sued the town to prevent the law from going into effect.

Read the full letter below:

It has been an extreme honor to have served as your chairman over the past two years. Although exhausting at times, my task has taken me to all corners of our town and county, where I have met many great people. At this time, I will not be seeking a second term for the position of Committee Chairman.

I am honored to have served alongside you and to have done a service to the taxpayers and citizens of our town. It is with a heavy heart that I step down from this position, but it is a decision that I find is necessary at this time, for both my family and my reputation.

I have learned and experienced a great deal in my time as chairman, and I am thankful for the opportunity to have helped our party in both local and federal elections. I have seen the position of the Chairman go through turbulent times — now for the past four years — and am dismayed with some of the things I have witnessed and heard. It is with great disappointment that I have watched some continually attack this committee of volunteers in an attempt for their own gains. These threats and actions must stop for this party to continue moving forward. One must remember the pool of the people who have the time, energy, and interest to volunteer is not vast. We as a community must be careful not to put limits on the same.

When I took up the position I spoke with many of you and heard your voices asking for change, a change that would better us to serve our town and our party justly. I was unaware of the precarious situation on our horizon, and of the vast amount of time and energy that the post would take from me. Much of that time was wasted defending my reputation and my name. I had already served faithfully as a committee member and as an elected official in our town, and when the call came, I happily rose to the challenge. Would that I could say that we are as united as I had hoped we would be, come the end of my tenure.

While we elect a few who run our government, it is our group of volunteers throughout our town which complete us: ambulance members,  fire department member, little league coaches, PAL members, and let us not forget animal shelter advocates, along with many others. Their time and energy are what help mold our community into what this great town is.

I will continue to serve as a committee member for our party, and will offer assistance, advice, and council to whomever needs it or takes the reins. But because my constitutional rights were being stripped from me in an attempt to force me to step down prior to my tenure ending, I was forced to file an action to protect my rights, an action that a portion of the taxpayers are not happy with. For the betterment of this committee, I feel I now must step back from the position of chairman.

And so as I step down from this position, I want to thank you all, once again, for giving me the opportunity to lead our party. A special thanks to our county chair John J. LaValle for his respect and guidance. A second thank you to Marge Acevedo, the Democratic Riverhead party leader, for a non-turbulent relationship. It is a reminder that government can exist without the ongoing drama.

The two-year term that I had agreed to fulfill has now come to an end.  I simply completed my term.  I have made many memories and met many people, and for that I am grateful. I urge you to put aside differences and unite behind our slate so we may serve the residents of our town.