State Supreme Court Judge Joseph Santorelli on Tuesday ruled in favor of Democrat Laura Jens-Smith in the lawsuit she brought against incumbent Republican Supervisor Sean Walter’s nominating petitions for the Independence Party in the upcoming election.
The decision means Ms. Jens-Smith, and not Mr. Walter, will be on the November ballot as the candidate of the Independence party for Riverhead Town Supervisor, according to Riverhead Democratic chair Marge Acevedo. Ms. Jens-Smith also will be on the ballot as the candidate of the Working Families and Women’s Equality Parties.
“Judge Santorelli’s ruling was right on target,” Ms. Acevedo said in a release. “Supervisor Walter’s petitions were filled with mistakes and he should have known better.”
Ms. Jens-Smith is making her first run for supervisor, having ran as a Democratic candidate for council in 2015. Republicans currently control all five seats on the Town Board and have since 2010.
Mr. Walter won in 2015 despite only having the Conservative line, as Councilwoman Jodi Giglio defeated him in a primary for the Republican line. He said he will still have the Republican and Conservative lines this fall.
“This isn’t fatal,” he said. However, he said he usually collects twice the amount of signatures as needed and didn’t do so this year, relying on others to collect signatures instead.
“The Riverhead GOP has become complacent and disrespectful of the political process,” Ms Acevedo said. “After eight years in office, Sean Walter operates as though he can do anything he wants and get away with it.”