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11/08/13 12:00pm

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Riverhead Republicans celebrate their victorious sweep Tuesday nignt in downtown Riverhead. From left: committee chairman Mason Haas, Councilwoman Jodi Giglio, Supervisor Sean Walter and Councilman John Dunleavy. Mr. Walter said the team tried to stay positive during the campaign. He believes that approach resonated with voters.

In June 2012, Councilwoman Jodi Giglio filed a harassment complaint against Supervisor Sean Walter.

Months later, Mr. Walter put out a political hit on Ms. Giglio, which came in the form of a primary challenge from the supervisor’s friend and longtime political adviser, Anthony Coates.

During that contentious primary, Councilman John Dunleavy — perhaps sensing momentum building behind Mr. Coates — was continually found to be out campaigning without his committee-designated team, joining Mr. Coates in door-knocking efforts.

But blood is thicker than water, the saying goes, and as the outcome of the Riverhead Town elections began to crystallize before the family of Riverhead Republicans Tuesday night, judging by the hugs, kisses and high-fives — bygones were bygones. Despite their differences, the three incumbents on the Town Board had all won re-election.

Election 2013: By the numbers

“I’ve been involved in Riverhead politics for 14 years and I have never seen the Republican committee come together the way it has this summer and this fall,” Mr. Walter told a jubilant crowd of supporters at Cody’s BBQ & Grill.

Mr. Walter later said he believed the issue of in-fighting on the board was more media driven than anything.

“I think the residents didn’t focus on the fights or they wouldn’t have re-elected us,” he said. “They focused on the results, and if everybody got along all the time, I don’t think we’d have had the results that we had. We all add something to this mixture.”

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Assessor Laverne Tennenberg posting the election results Tuesday night.

But it wasn’t just the media. The Riverhead Democrats had been smelling Republican blood in the water for some time because of the in-fighting. Democratic challenger Angela DeVito’s campaign slogan, “Respect Riverhead,” was built on the promise she would bring courtesy and respect back to Riverhead Town Hall after four years of Mr. Walter and an all-Republican Town Board.

The voters favored staying the course.

Mr. Walter defeated Ms. DeVito with 56 percent of the vote, or 3,917 to 3,090, according to Suffolk County Board of Elections figures.

Ms. Giglio, who earned a second term, and two-term Republican Councilman John Dunleavy tallied 3,634 and 3,495 votes respectively, over Democrats Bill Bianchi, with 3,141 votes, and Millie Thomas, with 3,045, in the at-large election for two seats.

As it began to look like the election results weren’t going to break her way, Ms. DeVito — who led a team that came much closer than their Democratic counterparts in the 2009 and 2011 races for Town Board seats — told her supporters “we are still winners.”

She also said there’s still work to be done for the Democratic Party to make the sure the towns government, ruled by Republicans, is heading in the right direction and working for the people of Riverhead.

“Just because we aren’t in the driver’s seat, that doesn’t mean we can’t be passengers in the bus,” Ms. DeVito said from Democratic headquarters in a storefront behind the Riverhead Diner & Grill — and a short walk from Cody’s on East Main Street.

She then took that short walk, entering Cody’s back door and making her way through the crowd to congratulate Mr. Walter. The two candidates hugged and exchanged words as music pumped through the speakers. Ms. DeVito was also joined by campaign advisor Keisha Washington Dean.

Mr. Walter and party leaders attributed the Republican victories to a largely positive campaign.

“This town is moving in the right direction, no matter what Angela DeVito and Bill Bianchi say,” Mr. Walter said.

“I believe we’ve gotten our message across,” said Republican Committee Chairman Mason Haas, “which is that the town is moving in the right direction.”

In other town races, incumbent Republican assessor Laverne Tennenberg beat Democratic challenger Greg Fischer, 4,343 to 2,396, and Democratic highway superintendent George (Gio) Woodson beat Conservative challenger Michael Panchak by vote of 4,936 to 1,269.

Mr. Woodson and Town Clerk Diane Wilhelm are the only Democrats to hold an elected office in Riverhead Town.

A moral victory, so to speak, for Democrats in the town races came with the respectable showing of the council candidates.

The votes were much more evenly split than in the past two local elections, with Ms. Thomas, a Wading River realtor, earning 24 percent of the vote and Mr. Bianchi, a former state Assemblyman from the Bellport area, capturing 23 percent of the vote.

Ms. Giglio led the pack with 27 percent followed by Mr. Dunleavy with 26.

By comparison, in 2009, Democratic council candidate Kathy Berezny tallied 20 percent of the final vote for two seats, with 19 percent for Shirley Coverdale.

The Democratic council candidates fared even worse in 2011, when Marlando Williams got 16 percent of the vote and Matt Van Glad received 15 percent in an at-large race against incumbent Republicans James Wooten and George Gabrielsen for two open seats.

This election season, the Democrats also tried to capitalize on residents’ displeasure with the clearing of several properties along Route 58 to make way for commercial shopping centers. They had joined residents in a rally at the Costco Wholesale site, which was clear-cut right up to neighboring properties, and held their own press conference there, faulting the Town Board for granting an excavation permit for the project.

Mr. Dunleavy, who lives in Foxwood Village, one of the affected communities, also took heat from his neighbors during the campaign — not only for the clearing itself but for deflecting blame onto neighbors he said weren’t paying attention and attending town meetings.

He later apologized at a Town Board debate, saying no one was to blame.

On Election Day, even the election district that includes Foxwood Village voted for Republicans, including Mr. Dunleavy, according to numbers posted at Republican headquarters — though not yet available through the county — Mr. Dunleavy received 215 votes, with Ms. Giglio leading with 222 in Election District 11. Ms. Thomas earned 200 in ED11 and Mr. Bianchi, who came out on the attack against Mr. Dunleavy at the Oct. 24 debate, finished last in that district, with 196 votes.

“The few people that thought I was the sole person [responsible for the clear-cutting] for the Costco project, they were wrong, and the people that believed in me, voted for me,” Mr. Dunleavy said after the results came in and he was awarded a third four-year term.

For her part, Ms. Giglio told WRIV radio show host Bruce Tria that the election outcome could offer a renewed opportunity for the Republicans, who will now have to work together for at least another two years, the length of supervisor terms in Riverhead Town.

“We have to put things behind us and move forward,” she said, adding that she would reach out to Mr. Walter to perhaps talk over lunch.

Mr. Walter later told the News-Review he would be willing to sit with Ms. Giglio over lunch.

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11/08/13 12:00pm

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Democrat Angela DeVito concedes to Republican Supervisor Sean Walter Tuesday night at Cody’s BBQ & Grill.

A breakdown of the election district totals that were posted at Republican headquarters at Cody’s BBQ Tuesday night shows that home field advantage only went so far on Tuesday.

• Democratic Supervisor candidate Angela DeVito did win her home district. She took Election District 8 in South Jamesport by a vote of 194 to 155. And Republican Supervisor Sean Walter took his home district, ED 17 in Wading River, by a vote of 209 to 148.

• Democrats Bill Bianchi and Millie Thomas both lost their home districts, with Mr. Bianchi coming in third of the four council candidates in ED 22 in Riverhead, where he lives, and Ms. Thomas coming in third in her ED 14 in Calverton.

• Incumbent Republican Councilman John Dunleavy came in second to fellow Republican incumbent Jodi Giglio in Mr. Dunleavy’s ED 11 in Calverton. Results were not immediately available for the breakdown in Ms. Giglio’s home district, ED 19 in Baiting Hollow.

• The districts in which Ms. DeVito bested Mr. Walter were mostly along the southern part of Aquebogue, Jamesport and South Jamesport, winning ED 6, 21 and 8, which together cover the bayfront from Hubbard Avenue to Laurel.

Ms. DeVito also won in ED 2, which covers areas in the heart of Riverhead, such as Industrial Boulevard and Pulaski Street.

• The only districts where two Democratic council candidates came in first or second place were ED 2, 10 and 17, the latter two being in Wading River, near Wildwood State Park.

• In the aforementioned ED 6 in Aquebogue, Ms. Giglio was the top vote getter, and Mr. Dunleavy and Ms. Thomas were tied for second.

• While Ms. DeVito won in her home district, her running mates did not. The GOP council candidates both won the top two spots in that district.

• The four council candidates also had varying second lines, which may (or may not) have played a factor in the final results.

Ms. Giglio gathered 3,219 votes on the Republican line and 415 on the Independence line. She did not receive Conservative party backing.

Mr. Dunleavy did get the Conservative nod, and received 813 votes on the Conservative line. He also got 2,682 votes on the Republican line, just less than the 2,685 votes Ms. Thomas received on the Democratic line. Ms. Thomas also received 456 votes on the Working Families line. Neither Ms. Thomas or Mr. Dunleavy appeared on the Independence Party Line.

Mr. Bianchi was the only council candidate with three lines.

He received 2,435 votes on the Democratic line, 348 on the Independence line and 262 on the Working Families line.

11/05/13 8:45pm
11/05/2013 8:45 PM
BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Republican candidates Laverne Tennenberg, Jodi Giglio, Sean Walter and John Dunleavy celebrate victories on election night in downtown Riverhead.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Republican candidates Laverne Tennenberg, Jodi Giglio, Sean Walter and John Dunleavy celebrate victories on election night in downtown Riverhead.

Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter defeated Democratic challenger Angela DeVito in his successful bid for re-election Tuesday, earning 3,917 votes to Ms. DeVito’s 3,090, according to Suffolk County Board of Elections figures.

Jodi Giglio and John Dunleavy, both incumbent Republican councilpeople, earned vote totals of 3,634 and 3,495, respectively, over Democrats Bill Bianchi and Millie Thomas, who registered 3,141 and 3,045 each.

That was an at-large race between the four candidate for two open council seats.

Also in Riverhead Town, incumbent Republican assessor Laverne Tennenberg beat Democratic challenger Greg Fischer, 4,343 to 2,396, and Democratic highway superintendent George (Gio) Woodson beat Conservative challenger Michael Panchak by vote of 4,936 to 1,269.

In local races on the county and state levels, Suffolk County incumbent county Legislator Al Krupski defeated Republican challenger Albie DeKerillis by a wide margin of 12,515 to Mr. DeKerillis’ 4,702 votes.

Meanwhile, in the election to fill a vacant state Assembly seat, Republican Anthony Palumbo defeated Democrat John McManmon, who conceded in downtown Riverhead Tuesday night.

The county’s unofficial results showed Palumbo with 14,607 votes to McManmon’s 10,693, with 88 of 89 election districts in as of about 11:30 p.m.

The Riverhead News-Review reported live throughout election night.

Click below to see photos, candidate reactions and more.

(Read more in the News-Review newspaper.)


11/05/13 3:07pm

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Voters cast their ballots inside the John Wesley Village polling place Tuesday.

The usual Pulaski Street School polling place was moved to the Riverhead Fire Department headquarters on Roanoke Avenue for this Election Day, but that didn’t stop voters from lining up outside the doors of the firehouse early Tuesday morning, election officials said.

“We haven’t been inundated, but it’s been pretty steady,” said elections coordinator James Ellwood, who added the change in polling location hadn’t tripped up too many voters.

At the John Wesley Village II polling place, turnout this year appeared to be about the same as the last off-year election four years ago, volunteers said, though the final numbers will prove to pale in comparison to the presidential year turnouts.

“I’ve seen a lot of the people I’ve seen year in and year out,” said Jack McIntyre. “Turnout has been very good … over 450 people.”

Some residents interviewed after casting votes pointed to the preservation of the North Fork and political infighting in Town Hall and the federal government as their primary concerns on Election Day.

“I’m so mad at the Republicans,” said Mary Deveau. “They need to work together … and get this thing on the road.”

Another voter, Irene Lapidez, said she’s frustrated by political discord, but only at the national level. She said she was satisfied with how town politicians have been handling local issues, like the revitalization of downtown Riverhead.

“I’m very happy with the way Riverhead is coming along,” she said.

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11/05/13 11:31am
TIM GANNON FILE PHOTO | The George G. Young Community Center in Jamesport.

TIM GANNON FILE PHOTO | The George G. Young Community Center in Jamesport.

Polling in the Riverhead area will be at the following locations:

• Election Districts 6 and 9: American Legion Post 273, Hubbard Avenue.

• ED 4: Cornell Cooperative Extension, Griffing Avenue.

• EDs 8 and 16: George G. Young Community Center, South Jamesport Avenue, Jamesport.

• ED 11: Glenwood Village recreation center.

• EDs 12 and 22: John Wesley Village community building.

• EDs 14 and 19: Riley Avenue Elementary School.

• ED 3: Riverhead Free Library.

• EDs 2 and 5: Riverhead Fire Department headquarters, Roanoke Avenue.

• EDs 7, 13 and 21: Town Senior Center, Shade Tree Lane, Aquebogue.

• EDs 18 and 20: Wading River Baptist Church, Wading River Manor Road.

• EDs 1, 10, 15 and 17: Wading River Congregational Church community room, North Country Road.

• Polling places in the Flanders and River side areas of Southampton Town are the Flanders firehouse for Election Districts 12 and 38 and Phillips Avenue School in Riverside for Election Districts 19 and 41.

11/05/13 11:00am

Locals head to the polls on Tuesday to vote for their picks for several public offices, as well as a list of ballot propositions that include a state-permitted casino gambling referendum.

Below is a recap of the candidates who are seeking public office.

Two-year term, full time
2014 salary: $115,150

Candidate profiles: Sean Walter, Angela DeVito

Watch: Town supervisor debate at Suffolk Theater


Four-year term, part time
Salary: $48,955

Candidate profiles: John Dunleavy, Jodi Giglio, Bill Bianchi, Millie Thomas

Watch: Town council debate at Suffolk Theater

Salary: $84,178
Four-year term, full time

Candidate profiles: George Woodson, Michael Panchak

Four-year term (full time)
Salary: $74,449/$84,047 for chair

Candidate profilesLaverne Tennenberg and Gregory Fischer

Two-year term, part-time
Salary: $96,958

Candidate profilesAlbie DeKerillis and Al Krupski

Two-year term, full-time
2014 salary: $79,500 plus per diem

Candidate profilesAnthony Palumbo and John McManmon

11/03/13 12:00pm
11/03/2013 12:00 PM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Political signs at the corner of River Road and Route 25.

Political yard signs, says John Galla, are a lot like measles. “You put one down and the next day there’s 14 more,” explained the former Riverhead Republican Committee chairman.

And while their design schemes may seem straightforward enough — a dabble of red, a smattering of blue and the candidate’s name in block letters are all typical features — considerable thought goes into the creation and execution of the average 24-by-18-inch sign.

“Look at what Coca Cola’s done with red and white,” Mr. Galla said, referring to the soda giant’s globally recognizable colors. Mr. Galla has designed Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter’s political yard signs since 2009. “Consistency always sells in advertising, right?” he asked.

When designing Mr. Walter’s signs, Mr. Galla said, he strives for that same level of consistency. Mr. Walter’s last name, which is prominently featured on all the candidate’s signs, is usually accompanied by a reworked image of the American flag on a white background.

“These are the signs I’ve always had,” Mr. Walter said. “They’re very effective and anybody who tells you they’re not hasn’t run a political race.”

COURTESY PHOTO | An Angela DeVito sign with a photograph by Cliff Baldwin of Aquebogue.

Mr. Walter’s opponent, Democratic nominee Angela DeVito, has taken a very different approach in her campaign. She teamed up recently with Aquebogue artist Cliff Baldwin to create 35 full-color signs featuring photos of seven different North Fork vistas. Instead of promoting her last name the way Mr. Walter’s signs do, Ms. DeVito’s first name is front and center.

“That was a deliberate decision,” Ms. DeVito said. “When people go to vote, they don’t see DeVito, Angela. They see Angela DeVito. It’s also to put out the fact that I’m a very approachable individual. I don’t stand on a lot of formality.”

What works best? In the 25 years he’s worked at Wedel Signs on West Main Street in Riverhead, designer Ted Squires said that when it comes to the efficacy of political signs, simplicity is key.

“As far as the wording goes, keep it simple,” he suggests. “Include your name, what you’re running for and either ‘elect’ or ‘re-elect.’ The more you put on [the sign], the less people will read.”

While it remains to be seen which candidate will prevail at the polls — and, ostensibly, whether or not their placards could be judged effective or not — political yard signs have had a place in American history since the years immediately following World War II, said Stanley Klein, professor of political science at C.W. Post Long Island University in Brookville.

The reason, Mr. Klein said, is simple: more Americans owned houses with lawns after the war.

And political yard signs do work, he said, although he considers door-to-door stumping for votes a candidate’s best shot of getting elected.

“In Nassau County during the 1968 election, there was an assemblyman running by the name of Marty Ginsberg,” Mr. Klein said. “He had 45 four-by-eight signs put up around his election district. Newsday’s comment [at the time] was, ‘It is no longer Plainview. It is Ginsberg-ville.’ By the way, he was re-elected.”

More than 40 years later, candidates are still banking on the hope that a purposefully positioned yard sign might make the difference between victory and defeat.

“I really put [the signs] out there to remind people of this election,” Ms. DeVito said. “I would say it’s 50/50 that people will get the message.”

[email protected]

11/03/13 10:01am

Anthony Palumbo and John McManmon


Two-year term, full-time

2014 salary: $79,500 plus per diem


Hamlet: Aquebogue

Occupation: Lawyer

Party lines: Democratic,
Independence, Working Families

About him: John McManmon, 28, was raised on Eastern Long Island and is a graduate of Riverhead High School, Tulane University and Columbia Law School. Since law school, he has been an attorney in private practice.

His pitch: Mr. McManmon recalls his experience in New Orleans as a student when Hurricane Katrina hit – namely seeing the role government played when disaster struck – as an inspiration to run for public office. He says he wants to ensure that Eastern Long Island is a place where middle-class people can find decent jobs, afford homes and build their lives, offering a plan he says will reduce the tax burden and attract jobs.

The Aquebogue native most recently worked as lawyer for a New York City law firm and cites his pro bono work as a source of pride.

In his words: “My campaign is founded on the idea that honest and hard work can make a real difference in people’s lives. In the Assembly, that’s precisely what I intend to do.”


Hamlet: New Suffolk

Occupation: Lawyer

Party lines: Republican, Conservative

About him: Mr. Palumbo, 43, a lifelong Suffolk County resident, worked for the New York County District Attorney’s Office after college and attended St. John’s University Law School. In 1998, he joined the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office, eventually becoming East End trial supervisor. In 2004, he entered private practice in a small Mattituck firm.

His pitch: Mr. Palumbo lives, works and has raised his family in the 2nd Assembly District, investing his time, business and family’s future here. Returning effective government to the people begins with a no-nonsense approach to governing and Mr. Palumbo said he intends to use his prosecutorial experience to tackle corruption head-on and restore the public trust in public service. He is dedicated to strengthening New York’s public corruption laws, protecting small businesses from the rising costs of big government, reducing spending and controlling our property taxes.

In his words: “Residents are tired of countless stories of corruption.”

Read our endorsement for the State Assembly race here.