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Riverhead Chamber president to seek Town Board seat; GOP picks its slate for 2021 election

Bob Kern, the president of the Riverhead Chamber of Commerce, will join incumbent Supervisor Yvette Aguiar and recently appointed Councilman Ken Rothwell on the Republican ticket in the 2021 election.

The Riverhead Republican Committee on Monday formally picked its slate of candidates for the November election.

Mr. Kern, who lives in Aqeubogue, will be making his first run for public office as he seeks a seat on the Riverhead Town Board.

“I’m tired of the future train coming by Riverhead Town and people not buying tickets,” Mr. Kern said in an interview. “We’ve had so many opportunities. Everything is going to happen in the next four years. Riverhead is ready to move.”

In addition to his position with the Chamber, Mr. Kern also is a member of the town Industrial Development Agency and its Business Advisory committee. In addition, he’s been a member of the town’s Agricultural Advisory Committee and the East End Tourism Alliance board. He’s owned companies that specialized in advertising, marketing, computers and a biotech company that was involved with the intellectual property creating cancer vaccines which ultimately sold its patent to Genzyme.

Ms. Aguiar will be seeking her second two-year term after she won the 2019 election.

The supervisor, whose birthday was Monday, said in her acceptance speech, “I will remain committed to continue moving Riverhead forward, fighting for out great town across each of our communities, and at all levels of government.”

She said the past year “has been extremely challenging and daunting” but “we as a town worked closely together on many fronts and on many challenges that none of us have ever witnessed or experienced in our lifetimes.”

Riverhead voters rejected a proposition in last November’s election that would have made the supervisor term four years starting with the 2021 election.

Mr. Rothwell was appointed to fill the vacant council seat left by Jodi Giglio’s election to the state Assembly. There are two council positions and supervisor up for election on the Town Board. Democrat Catherine Kent’s seat is also up for election. The council positions are four-year terms.

Mr. Rothwell owns funeral homes in Wading River, Southampton, Hampton Bays and Westhampton and has been an 18-year volunteer in the Southampton Fire Department. His first funeral home was in Southampton.

Mr. Rothwell has lived in Wading River for 25 years. He feels the proposed town square in downtown Riverhead will be a key to opening up Main Street to the riverfront, and he feels the Enterprise Park at Calverton will be bring economic growth.

The Republicans also nominated Mike Zaleski for highway superintendent. He is currently the deputy highway superintendent, which is an appointed position.

Laverne Tennenberg, the longtime assessor, was re-nominated for another term.

The assessor post occupied by Mason Haas, who will be retired as of Feb. 26, was not addressed at the convention because Mr Haas’ retirement was not in effect yet. But the Republicans said they plan to nominate Dana Brown, an assessor’s office employee, to run for that seat. 

Others who sought the council nominations but came up short were Bob Hartmann, Isabelle Gonzalez and Brian Connolly.

The Riverhead Democratic Committee will hold its convention Tuesday night via Zoom, according to Democratic chair Marge Acevedo. The convention will not be open to the press or public due to COVID-19.

The Republican committee was held in the VFW hall in Polish Town and the press wasn’t permitted inside, but were allowed to view the convention via Zoom.

Election Day is Nov. 2.