With primaries moved from September to June statewide, this year’s political season began in February, when Riverhead’s Republicans and Democrats assembled their slates for the 2019 elections.
The Republicans named newcomer Yvette Aguiar, a retired detective sergeant in the NYPD counterterrorism division, to challenge incumbent Democratic Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith.
Term limits prevented incumbent Republican Councilman Jim Wooten from seeking another term, although he considered running for supervisor. The Republicans ended up choosing incumbent Tim Hubbard and challenger Frank Beyrodt, who lost a close race in 2017, to run for town council. The Democrats went with two political newcomers, Diane Tucci and Patricia Snyder.
The Republicans swept all three Town Board positions by sizable margins, giving them four of the five Town Board seats for 2020.
The primary campaign issues were the future of EPCAL, illegal and overcrowded housing and downtown zoning.
Democratic candidates were still wary of Calverton Aviation & Technology’s plans for EPCAL, which were pushed through by a Republican board at end of 2017, while the Republicans’ 2019 slate supported CAT, saying the town needed the jobs the proposed development at EPCAL would provide.
Republicans also were critical of overcrowded and illegal housing, which became a big issue as Election Day neared due to a proposed bond to expand Riverhead schools. The Democrats also jumped on that issue, but slightly afterward.
On downtown, the Democrats supported a proposed a “pattern book” to guide development for downtown Riverhead, while Republicans were critical of it.
Photo caption: GOP winners Yvette Aguiar, Tim Hubbard and Frank Beyrodt pose for photos during the celebration on election night. (Credit: John Griffin)