News-Review Endorsement: Town Council

It never hurts to get a head start.

Ken Rothwell joined the Riverhead Town Board in January after former councilwoman Jodi Giglio moved on to the state Assembly. In the ensuing 10 months, Mr. Rothwell has been a consistent presence throughout town. He’s been the face of a number of initiatives, such as the Hometown Hero banners downtown, a feel-good project to honor local veterans. He also worked on bringing two separate drag racing series at the Enterprise Park at Calverton this summer and fall. 

It’s no surprise that fellow Town Board Republicans would consistently allow Mr. Rothwell to take center stage and gain the visibility needed to win an election just a short time after taking office. 

To his credit, Mr. Rothwell seized that opportunity and began this campaign with an enormous leg up on his opponents in his quest for a full four-year term. The experience he gained on the Town Board has given him an understanding of current issues facing the town, and he was consistently the most knowledgeable during a candidate forum hosted by Times Review Media Group.

Mr. Rothwell, who has volunteered in a number of capacities during his lifetime, deserves a chance to continue serving on the Town Board.

“It’s been a great honor to serve the residents of Riverhead,” Mr. Rothwell said earlier this month. “I want to continue this path because what we started, I really want to see finished.”

Experience is a key factor in our endorsements and holds equally true for Republican Robert Kern. As president of the Riverhead Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Kern brings a wealth of experience and knowledge when it comes to downtown Riverhead and its businesses. He said he has 30 years of business experience, from advertising and marketing to biotech. He’s served on town advisory committees and is now at a point where he can take the next step to serve in a larger capacity.

“I need this for the town I’ve been working with and for for over 15 years,” Mr. Kern said.

Democratic candidate Juan Micieli-Martinez, who has lived in downtown Riverhead, where he and his wife are raising a young son, since 2008. He presented himself as an affable candidate who is eager to help the town, particularly the downtown area. He brings a unique perspective and background, having been born in Mexico and then becoming a U.S. citizen. The democratic process is special to him and not something he takes for granted.

Mr. Micieli-Martinez works in the wine industry and has been involved in organizations such as the Long Island Farm Bureau, Long Island Wine Council and Harvest East End.

In an increasingly diverse town, adding board members from different backgrounds and walks of life would certainly be a positive and Mr. Micieli-Martinez may resonate with many residents who feel he can better understand their concerns.

In our judgment, the other two candidates presented greater knowledge of the issues — and more experience tipped the scale in their favor. We hope Mr. Micieli-Martinez continues to remain active; he can be a voice in the future.

We didn’t hear enough from fellow Democratic candidate Evelyn Hobson-Womack on the campaign trail to feel she warrants an endorsement. She spoke mostly about issues concerning the police department and public safety, which is no surprise given her background. She’s skeptical of the deal in place to sell EPCAL and of the increased number of downtown apartments, but she was unable to attend the candidate forum hosted by Times Review Media Group at a specific date and time all the candidates had agreed to; therefore, we lost an opportunity to hear more detailed responses on the issues as we did with the other three candidates. 

Outside of attending a few press conferences with the fellow Democrats, we didn’t see Ms. Hobson-Womack make the case for why she should be elected and what specific goals she had.

We give her credit for choosing to run, having just retired as a detective in the Riverhead Town Police Department. She had a trailblazing career there and we applaud her accomplishments. 

Experience wins the day. We endorse Mr. Rothwell and Mr. Kern for Riverhead Town Council.