Election 2021: Town Board candidates
FOUR-YEAR TERM, TWO OPEN SEATS | SALARY $48,955
Party Lines: Democratic, Working Families
Occupation: Retired detective, Riverhead Town Police Department
About her: Ms. Hobson-Womack, 56, is a lifelong Riverhead resident and a Riverhead High School graduate. She is a U.S. Army veteran and retired detective with the Riverhead Town Police Department. In 1993, she became the town’s first African American female police officer and in 2002 became the first female and African American detective in the town. She is a married mother of two.
Her pitch: Ms. Hobson-Womack said she is devoted to Riverhead and is running for Town Board to continue serving now that she is retired. She said the town’s leadership has ignored the concerns of residents “for far too long.” Resident’s voices have gone unheard, she said, and decision making has favored out-of-town commercial interests, developers and the politically connected. She said residents’ voices should not be muted due to their economic status, religious status or ethnicity.
She said the town’s police department should expand to mirror the growth seen in the town over the past 25 years.
In her words: “We are each other’s harvest, we are each other’s greatness and we are each other’s hope. Talking doesn’t get it done. I’m ready to roll up my sleeves and get to work. But first, I need your vote.”
Party lines: Republican, Conservative
Occupation: Business strategist/consultant
About him: Mr. Kern, 68, is chairman of Riverhead Town’s business advisory committee and has served over 15 years on its agricultural advisory committee. He has served as president of the Riverhead Chamber of Commerce for six years. He’s previously served as treasurer of the Riverhead IDA. He has owned an IT company, and advertising, marketing and design company and an apparel company.
His pitch: Mr. Kern said he has been involved in the community for over 20 years. As operations manager at the former Martha Clara Vineyards under the Entenmann family, he helped organize over 200 no-cost events for charities in Riverhead, the North Fork, Suffolk County and beyond. The chamber during his tenure brought back its mentor program, started Chamber Tank (a play on the popular TV show “Shark Tank”) and a student job fair. He pointed to his work on the agricultural advisory committee, which came up with an eastbound turning lane at choke points along Sound Avenue for tourists visiting farms on the north side while allowing eastbound traffic to continue to flow. He said the program needs to be expanded into other hamlets.
In his words: “I cherish where we all live and seek to continue doing what I have been doing over 20 years and to build in more efficiencies in the town’s processes.”
Party Lines: Democratic/Working Families
About him: Juan Micieli-Martinez, 44, is a lifelong East End resident. He resides downtown with his young family. He is a Binghamton University graduate with more than 20 years’ experience in the wine industry and with strong agricultural ties. He served as winemaker and general manager of Martha Clara Vineyards from 2007 to 2018.
His pitch: Mr. Micieli-Martinez said Riverhead needs experienced, intelligent, creative leaders to solve current complex issues. He said he’s been faced with finding solutions throughout his business career. He said Riverhead is at a crossroads and needs to balance revitalization and development with conservation. He pointed to his volunteer work in various organizations and said he has a young child in the school system and has started a small family-owned business. He said he understands and represents the many facets of Riverhead Town.
In his words: “Voters need candidates that serve the local community and not special interest groups. On Nov. 2, I ask you to vote for Riverhead’s future and for candidates that understand the needs of the community. Please vote for the Hometown Team!”
Hamlet: Wading River
Occupation: Owner, Alexander-Rothwell Funeral Home
Party lines: Republican, Conservative
About him: Mr. Rothwell, 50, was appointed to the Town Board in January, filling the seat left vacant by Assemblywoman Jodi Giglio. He is a licensed funeral director and has earned special recognition from the Governor of New York and the Nassau/Suffolk Funeral Directors Association. He is a volunteer firefighter and member of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks and the Knights of Columbus.
His pitch: Mr. Rothwell said he has spearheaded many projects since joining the board to honor veterans, such as the Hometown Hero Banners on Main Street and the Veterans Wall of Honor. He said he brought the first Pedal Share bike program to Riverhead and now at the Veterans Memorial Trail.
He said he worked with the town supervisor to help coordinate a COVID-19 vaccination site for seniors and spearheaded the first water forum in Riverhead to open up communication with residents. He pointed to his work with the code revision committee to update old town building codes and said long-stalled projects are now nearing completion, creating 400 new jobs.
In his words: “As a successful local businessman, I intend to utilize my knowledge to provide businesses in our town the ability to flourish, thereby keeping residential property taxes stable while maintaining our agricultural preservation and beauty. Please allow me to continue my work for all of our town residents.”