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Highway superintendent says he’s had enough, opts not to run for re-election

Longtime Riverhead Highway Superintendent George Woodson said it was political interference from the Town Board that led to his decision not to run for re-election.

“I’m just finished with it. I don’t want to do it anymore. Life is too short to be putting up with this,” Mr. Woodson said in an interview Wednesday. “Everything is political.”

Mr. Woodson, 59, served as the elected highway superintendent for 13 years, and was a highway department employee for 22 years before that. Mr. Woodson is a Democrat, while four or the five Town Board seats are currently held by Republicans.

“I enjoyed the whole thing,” he said. “But last year, in April, I went to every Town Board meeting telling them what I needed,” he said. “And now, we had snow and I’m short three trucks and two people. I don’t like to work like that. I like to have all my stuff in order and everything in the right places, and this year, I didn’t have that. I thought, if this is the way government is going, I don’t want anything to do with it. If somebody is in office as supervisor for just a year and they are trying to tell me what to do with my budget and my money, then I’m done. I’m not being bothered anymore.” 

Mr. Woodson’s current term will run through the end of 2021. He said he plans to do some traveling.

“For the last 13 years, I’m at work pretty much every day,” he said. “I don’t take vacations. So it would be nice just to take some time off and relax.”

Mr. Woodson said he is grateful to his staff and his employees. 

“I thank the residents for giving me 13 years, the majority of which were good,” he said. “My goal was to make the highway department the best it can be.”

The Democrats formally unveiled their slate of candidates for the 2021 election Tuesday night. William “JR” Renten was nominated to run as highway superintendent and he’ll face Republican Mike Zaleski. Mr. Renten, 59, of Aquebogue is a heavy equipment operator in the town highway department, where he has worked for 11 years.