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Top Stories 2021: GOP candidates sweep in Riverhead on election night

Riverhead Town’s 2021 election campaign started way back in February with incumbent Republican Yvette Aguiar facing Democratic Councilwoman Catherine Kent, who was giving up her council seat to run for supervisor.

It ended in November with a Republican sweep — by wide margins — in all six positions up for election. Republican candidates received more than 60% of the votes in most contests. 

In addition to Ms. Aguiar, the Republicans ran Ken Rothwell, who was appointed in January to a vacant seat, and Chamber of Commerce president Bob Kern as council candidates. 

For highway superintendent, the Republicans ran Mike Zaleski, who was the deputy highway superintendent under long-time Democrat George Woodson. The latter opted not to seek reelection for the first time since 2005. 

For assessor, the Republicans ran longtime incumbent Laverne Tennenberg, who was first elected in 1989, and newcomer Dana Brown, who worked in the assessors’ office for seven years. A longtime Republican incumbent, Mason Haas, opted not to run for reelection. 

The Democrats ran two well-known candidates for Town Board: recently retired Riverhead police detective Evelyn Hobson-Womack and winemaker Juan Micieli-Martinez. 

The Democrats also ran highway department employee William J.R. Renten for highway superintendent and assessor candidates Ellen Hoil and Tara Taylor.

Ms. Kent, as the Town Board’s sole Democrat, found herself on the short end of many of the arguments among board members. She frequently accused Ms. Aguiar of trying to shut her down in public meetings. 

“It is never good to have a one-party system,” Ms. Kent said on election night after the GOP sweep. 

Ms. Kent was frequently critical of the incumbent’s support of the $40 million contract to Triple Five Group in Calverton, and called for the town to walk away from the deal, something Republicans opposed. 

In January, the Republicans will hold every elected position in town except town clerk, which is held by Democrat Diane Wilhelm, who was first elected in 2009. 

“I ran a very honest and a very professional campaign,” Ms. Aguiar told supporters on election night.