Aguiar wins reelection as Riverhead Town supervisor; GOP sweeps

Supervisor Yvette Aguiar won reelection as Riverhead Republicans swept the town races and delivered decisive wins on Election Day Tuesday.

Ms. Aguiar, 62, defeated Democratic challenger Catherine Kent, 65, who has served the last four years as a councilperson and was the lone Democrat for the past two years.

With Ms. Kent losing her position on the Town Board and Republicans picking up two seats with victories from Ken Rothwell and Bob Kern for town council, the GOP now holds all five Town Board seats.

Ms. Aguiar, after receiving a loud ovation from supporters at Stonewalls restaurant, said her margin of victory “sends a loud message.”

“I ran a very honest and a very professional campaign,” she said. “Unfortunately, when you don’t have any credentials, experience, knowledge or a platform, you have to go negative, and I went positive.”

Ms. Kent conceded at about 10:15 p.m., telling supporters who gathered at Dark Horse Restaurant in downtown Riverhead that “everybody needs to be represented.”

“That’s why we cannot despair,” she added. “We have to keep moving forward.”

The celebration began at Stonewalls restaurant soon afterward where GOP supporters were packed inside to view the results.

With 21 of 22 districts reporting, Ms. Aguiar owned 59% of the vote compared to just under 41% for Ms. Kent. Her margin of victory appeared to double that of her 2019, when she won by just over 700 votes. If those numbers hold up, it represents the largest margin of victory in a supervisor race since 2011 when Sean Walter recorded 61.5% of the vote.

Once absentee votes are tallied, it appears voter turnout will exceed that of 2019 and be about on par with 2017 when just over 9,000 votes were cast.

Mr. Rothwell, 50, who has already served on the Town Board the past year, appeared to be the top vote getter among the Town Board candidates with 31.5% of the votes. Mr. Kern was right behind with 30%.

Mr. Kern, 68, who is president of the Riverhead Chamber of Commerce and a member of the town’s agricultural committee and its business advisory committee, said that he has worked with the current board members and “all this time, it’s been like a knife through butter.”

Mr. Rothwell thanked his supporters Tuesday night and said: “I didn’t write a speech because I don’t want to jinx myself.”

Republican candidate Michael Zaleski was elected as the highway superintendent, defeating Democratic challenger William Renten Jr. The GOP won a position that had previously been held by George “Gio” Woodson, a Democrat who did not seek reelection.

Councilman Ken Rothwell and assessor Laverne Tennenberg review results Tuesday night. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)
Ms. Aguiar delivers a victory speech alongside her fellow GOP winners Tuesday night. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)

Incumbent assessor Laverne Tennenberg cruised to victory against Democratic challenger Tara Taylor to win another four-year term. In a second assessor race to fill the vacated seat formally held by Mason Haas, Republican Dana Brown defeated Democrat Ellen Hoil.

Results are unofficial and do no include absentee ballots.

Ms. Kent said it was “frustrating” that residents appeared to vote along party lines.

“It is never good to have a one-party system,” Ms. Kent said. “But I have a few months — I’m not finished yet. I will still be that person that says ‘Wait a minute, I have a question.’ ”

She described her runningmates Juan Micieli-Martinez and Evelyn Hobson-Womack as “trailblazers” on the campaign trail.

“We really did have the hometown team,” she said.

Mr. Micieli-Martinez added: “It really takes a village and in this case I really do believe we have a dynamite village. I hope to continue fighting for you all, fighting for downtown and the things I believe in.”

In the district attorney race, Timothy Sini, an incumbent Democrat with Suffolk PBA backing, lost his race against Republican challenger Ray Tierney.

Mr. Sini trails by more than 37,000 votes or 57% to 43% with a small number of countywide districts to report.

Mr. Sini, in a speech to supporters, acknowledged a high Republican voter turnout and said he “hoped they see through the politics and understand that there is a person who needs to be reelected to serve justice. It’s not about politics.”

Shortly after 11:30 p.m., however, he began a concession speech and acknowledged Mr. Tierney would be elected the next district attorney.

Mr. Tierney celebrated with GOP supporters in Patchogue, thanking the voters of Suffolk.

“I will fight every day to keep the citizens of Suffolk County safe,” he said.

Suffolk County Legislator Al Krupski, a Democrat running against an opponent who has not actively campaigned, has won his race.

In the sheriff race, incumbent Democrat Errol Toulon won reelection with about 54% of the vote and some votes still to be counted.

Democratic supervisor Catherine Kent delivers a concession speech Tuesday night. (Credit: Tara Smith)

Update: 10:35 p.m.

The GOP appears well on its way to a clean sweep in Riverhead Town.

With 14 districts reporting:


Yvette Aguiar (R): 3,930

Catherine Kent (D): 2,381

Town Board

Ken Rothwell (R): 4,058

Bob Kern (R): 3,887

Evelyn Hobson (D): 2,282

Juan Micieli-Martinez (D): 1,864

Highway Superintendent

Michael Zaleski (R): 3,329

William Renten Jr. (D): 1,428

Assessor (4-year term)

Laverne Tannenburg (R): 3,479

Tara Taylor (D): 1,340

Assessor (Unexpired term)

Dana Brown (R): 3,279

Ellen Hoil: 1,392

Update 10:22 p.m.

Republican Supervisor Yvette Aguiar has won reelection as Riverhead Town supervisor, based on unofficial results from the Suffolk County Board of Elections. Democratic challenger Catherine Kent conceded the race at about 10:15 p.m. as the incumbent supervisor, Ms. Aguiar, showed a wide lead of nearly 1,200 votes.

The Democrats were updating a spreadsheet with district-by-district results that were coming in ahead of those shown on the Board of Elections site.

“Everybody needs to be represented,” Ms. Kent said to the supporters at Dark Horse Restaurant. “That’s why we cannot despair. We have to keep moving forward.”

Ms. Kent then proceeded to leave Dark Horse and was heading to the Republican viewing party along with other candidates to formally congratulate Ms. Aguiar.

Update: 10 p.m.

Initial results are beginning to come in and Republicans have leads across the board.

With 13 districts reporting:


Yvette Aguiar (R): 2,913

Catherine Kent (D): 1,729

Town Board

Ken Rothwell (R): 2,992

Bob Kern (R): 2,925

Evelyn Hobson (D): 1,669

Juan Micieli-Martinez (D): 1,336

Highway Superintendent

Michael Zaleski (R): 3,162

William Renten Jr. (D): 1,340

Assessor (4-year term)

Laverne Tannenburg (R): 3,316

Tara Taylor (D): 1,243

Assessor (Unexpired term)

Dana Brown: 3,121

Ellen Hoil: 1,305

There are about 900 absentee ballots that will have to be counted, which will be done after Election Day.

Update: 9:18 p.m.

Riverhead republicans are gathered at Stonewalls restaurant and a large crowd has already assembled inside to view the results. The Democrats are at Dark Horse Restaurant. There are 22 election districts in Riverhead Town and results should start to roll in within the hour.

Update: 9:01 p.m.

Incumbent Supervisor Yvette Aguiar, the Republican, is seeking reelection against Councilwoman Catherine Kent, the Democrat. Ms. Kent was elected to the Town Board in 2017 and opted to run for supervisor this year, thus opening a seat for a new council person. There are now four council candidates seeking two seats. None of the current council candidates have been elected before. Ken Rothwell was appointed to the Town Board to replace the vacant seat that Jodi Giglio held prior to her election to the state Assembly.

In 2019, Ms. Aguiar ousted the incumbent, Laura Jens-Smith, securing just over 54% of the vote. She won by a margin of 707 votes.

If Ms. Kent were to win, it would be the third straight supervisor election in Riverhead that the incumbent lost, a trend Ms. Aguiar is hoping to break by winning a second two-year term. Sean Walter, who’s now a town justice, last won reelection as supervisor in Riverhead in 2015.

A look back at coverage of the last three town races, each of which have results in a different supervisor.