Riverhead Republicans announce slate for 2023 election

The Riverhead Republican Committee on Monday picked its candidates for this fall’s elections, naming Tim Hubbard, who currently serves as a councilman, as its candidate for supervisor, and Joann Waski of Jamesport and Denise Merrifield of Wading River as its council candidates. 

Ms. Waski is the chair of the town Planning Board and also owns a title company in Riverhead. Ms. Merrifield is an attorney who worked in the district attorney’s office and briefly worked in Supervisor Yvette Aguiar’s office. 

Ms. Aguiar opted not to seek reelection after two two-year terms in office. 

“It warms my heart to know that I have your support,” Mr. Hubbard said to committee members. “I’ve been your town councilman for the past seven years and during those seven years, I have had the honor and privilege and sometimes not the honor and privilege of working under three different supervisors. From working under those supervisors I feel that I’ve learned the good, the bad and the ugly of the supervisor’s office.”

Mr. Hubbard said “good” is what he will focus on to move forward with the town.

He said, “Supervisor Aguiar has set the table for a lot of things in this town.”

He specified the possible pending sale of land at the Enterprise Park at Calverton; the completion and development of the town square downtown; the transit-oriented development on Railroad Avenue; and the completion of the comprehensive plan as priorities.

“I plan to see all of those items through,” Mr. Hubbard said. “We want them to come to fruition; and for me, at the end of the road, I look at the big picture and what’s best for the town. I don’t have personal agendas.” 

Republican Committee member Tom Lassandro of Baiting Hollow said Mr. Hubbard “has served the residents of this town for 32 years, as a member of our police department, our school board, and now, for two terms, as a member of our Town Board.”

He said Mr. Hubbard makes residents his top priority and should be elected supervisor. 

The only contested race Monday was for town clerk, where former Councilman Jim Wooten defeated Diane Tucci, who had unsuccessfully run for Town Board as a Democrat in 2021. Mr. Wooten served 12 years on the Town Board.

Missing from the Republican ticket Monday was Brian Connolly, who is president of the Riverhead Board of Education as well as a New York City firefighter. Mr. Connolly was screened for the Town Board by the Republicans but withdrew his name from consideration Monday morning, according to Vic Prusinowski, who heads the Republican screening committee. 

“He told me his hands are full right now,” Mr. Prusinowski said.

The remainder of the Republican ticket has incumbents Dana Brown and Meredith Lipinsky as assessors; incumbent tax receiver Lauri Zaneski; and incumbent Lori Hulse as town justice. They all are running unopposed.

The Riverhead Democratic committee screened candidates Saturday, according to committee chair Laura Jens-Smith, who declined to say who was screened. 

“This is something I’ve looked forward to for a very long time,” said Ms. Waski. “Everybody that knows me knows that I love Riverhead, and when I say Riverhead, I’m talking about all of Riverhead.”

“I’m so excited,” Ms. Merrifield said. “I’ve been a resident for 25 years, and I’ve worked in Riverhead for over 30 years. I feel that as a lawyer, I have effective communicating skills and I will help people,” she said.