In his closing statements at a debate last week hosted by the News-Review, incumbent Councilman Tim Hubbard said he considered the four other candidates vying for Town Board friends. They are all people he has known for a long time. Other candidates expressed similar sentiments.
In some elections, a candidate’s praise of an opponent can come across as feigned, but this time the shared sentiment felt genuine.
After all, the five candidates for Town Board are familiar faces in Riverhead, and each could bring different backgrounds and expertise to the town council position.
Republican candidate Frank Beyrodt is a past president of the Long Island Farm Bureau. Democratic candidate Pat Snyder was executive director of East End Arts. Fellow Democrat Diane Tucci was executive director of the Riverhead Business Improvement District. Libertarian candidate William Van Helmond is president of the Greater Jamesport Civic Association.
That’s just a snapshot of efforts the newcomers have already made trying to improve their communities.
Riverhead voters will be in good hands as they choose two council members, at least one of whom will be new. (Current Republican Jim Wooten reached his term limits and was not eligible to run again.)
Mr. Beyrodt ran for town council in 2017 and narrowly missed earning a spot on the board when he finished 128 votes behind Catherine Kent. We felt he would be a welcome addition to the Town Board at the time and we again endorse him. His farming experience and work with Island Harvest, combined with his business expertise at DeLea Sod Farm, give him a unique perspective to bring to the Town Board. A topic during this election season has been the transfer of development rights, or TDR, where the development rights on farmland the town seeks to preserve are transferred to land where the town feels additional development is warranted.
“It’s one of my big crosses to bear,” Mr. Beyrodt said during a debate last week. “We need to get that back going again.”
We commend Mr. Beyrodt for taking a stand when speaking on the growing Hispanic and Latino population in Riverhead. He said he didn’t want the discussion to become an indictment of the Hispanic community.
“Many of these people are working long days and they’re hard-working and they’re good, honest, church-going, God-loving people that just want to make a living and they just happen to be at the bottom of the totem pole right now,” he said.
That’s the kind of leadership we would hope to see from Mr. Beyrodt if he’s elected.
Ms. Tucci, who grew up working on her grandparents’ farm in Baiting Hollow, has been a community asset in a number of ways and would also be a welcome member of the Town Board. Her roles with the Riverhead BID and Chamber of Commerce provide experience that will be helpful for the Town Board, particularly as a link to the business community.
She supports the pattern book for downtown Riverhead that will guide future zoning and was most excited to talk about downtown during a debate last week. She supported market rate housing, as did other opponents, as a next step for downtown.
Ms. Tucci raised smart points during a debate on one of the main election issues: overcrowded housing and code enforcement. She realizes that addressing overcrowding alone is not going to solve the need for the school district to expand.
“The town is only responsible for code enforcement,” she said. “We can’t have any pressure on the school about who’s going into the schools. What we really need to do is start working together on this as a community.”
She brought up the town’s homeless population and cautioned against inadvertently adding to that.
She agreed the town should crack down on landlords who are profiting from illegal homes. But she’s willing to talk about the human element of the issue, which is often ignored.
As the lone incumbent, Mr. Hubbard will be a favorite for re-election and he clearly knows the issues and has worked hard over the past four years. But for an endorsement, we go back to that qualified and eligible vote in 2018, where Mr. Hubbard, as the swing vote, said yes. The story on that EPCAL land and Calverton Aviation & Technology has yet to be completed, but it’s fair to say the community remains skeptical and worries persist about what that developed land may one day look like.
Mr. Hubbard may be proved right in the long run, but we simply don’t know.
Ms. Snyder and Mr. Van Helmond would both bring strengths to the position.
But from our perspective, we endorse Mr. Beyrodt and Ms. Tucci.