Election 2017

Election 2017: Riverhead Tax Assessor candidates

Tax Assessor
Four-year term; one open seat
Salary: $83,846

Susan Ambro

Hamlet: Wading River

Occupation: Attorney

Party lines: Democratic, Independence, Working Families

About her: Ms. Ambro, 58, is an attorney with the Suffolk County Legal Aid Society, where she represents clients who cannot afford to pay. A graduate of the University of Bridgeport law school, she has been an attorney for 31 years. Ms. Ambro’s husband, Richard, is a state Supreme Court Judge in Suffolk County.

Ms. Ambro did not respond to a questionnaire sent to candidates by the Riverhead News-Review and was not present last Thursday at the only public candidate forum that included the assessor candidates.

In May, when she was nominated to run for assessor, she said, “I’ve been amazed over the years at how nothing has ever come out of the assessors’ office that was ever good for me, and maybe for most of the people who sit here. I think it’s an office that’s overlooked because it’s not the supervisor or the council or maybe because it’s not making policy. But in a way, it is, because it’s dealing with your most important asset — your cold, hard cash.”

She said she feels the assessors’ office lacks accountability.

Laverne Tennenberg

Hamlet: Riverhead

Occupation: Assessor (incumbent)

Party lines: Republican, Conservative

About her: Ms. Tennenberg, 59, is a Riverhead native and graduate of Hofstra University. She holds the NYS designation of professional assessor and is responsible for the valuation of $7 billion in real property. She says she has a comprehensive knowledge of the real property tax law and is proficient in all assessment administration functions. She was first elected in 1989.

Her pitch: Ms. Tennenberg said she strives to educate taxpayers about the property tax system, which can be complex and confusing. Over the years, she said, she’s computerized many assessment functions to increase efficiency in the office. Property tax exemptions are a large part of her work, she said, and all applications are reviewed carefully for eligibility. She recently helped taxpayers in manufactured home communities receive STAR property tax credit checks that were owed to them from 2016, she said.

In her words: “This personal touch has been the hallmark of my tenure with the town, and is what I believe to be the primary function of all public employees … to provide the best service possible.”