Editorial: A new, yet familiar, candidate emerges for Riverhead supervisor

Councilman John Dunleavy’s attempt to circumvent the term-limit law passed last year predictably never gained any traction. When the Town Board approved term limits of 12 consecutive years for council members, it signaled the end of Mr. Dunleavy’s tenure; he was first elected in 2005.

Mr. Dunleavy countered by proposing an amendment that would have granted him one additional term if he were re-elected. The self-serving maneuver, which applied only to Mr. Dunleavy, was soundly rejected by the other four Town Board members.

In this space last year, we argued that the proposal was “so blatantly unfair that it’s not even worth a public discussion.”

But Mr. Dunleavy, ever the optimist, hasn’t given up. His next move to remain relevant in Riverhead Town government: seek a promotion to supervisor.

Mr. Dunleavy, 76, announced that he intends to seek the supervisor seat in November as a Libertarian, thus avoiding a primary race against incumbent Republican Sean Walter. It was a stunning development considering Mr. Dunleavy has always run as a Republican in the past. The last thing the Republican Party in Riverhead would want is to see votes divided between Mr. Walter and Mr. Dunleavy, opening the door for Laura Jens-Smith, the Democratic nominee.

Of course, it may never even get that far. Mr. Dunleavy first must secure enough signatures on a petition before a deadline looming later this month.

The councilman would be better served to focus on his current position than to waste time on another foolish attempt to circumvent the term-limit law by running for supervisor.

Mr. Walter said in an interview this week that Mr. Dunleavy’s run is not in the spirit of term limits and we agree. Riverhead Republican Committee chairman Remy Bell also said that Mr. Dunleavy had promised him he would not challenge the current supervisor.

In an interview, Mr. Dunleavy raised no significant points to outline why he’s running, simply providing a vague notion of helping the taxpayers. If he couldn’t accomplish his vision and help taxpayers in 12 years on the Town Board, it’s doubtful a bump to supervisor would suddenly make the difference.

Mr. Dunleavy has served the residents of Riverhead for more than a decade. His desire to remain on the board is admirable, but it’s time for him to move on.

Photo caption: John Dunleavy, second from left, and Supervisor Sean Walter stood united at the 2013 GOP convention. (Credit: Jen Nuzzo, file)