Yvette Aguiar, the GOP candidate for Riverhead Town supervisor, had a simple but effective strategy to win the seat: Make her positions crystal clear and make sure the people heard them. Aguiar delivered on both counts — she said she knocked on over 11,000 doors.
The incumbent Democrat Laura Jens-Smith acknowledged after the election she was surprised and flabbergasted she lost. “It was a crazy thing. I thought we moved a lot of things forward.”
“The day before, I placed 400 phone calls,” the winner remarked. “I was out until dark. I walked and I talked. The results were good.”
Aguiar, of Latino descent, maintained overcrowding in the town and a huge school district building expansion project ($100 million) were the result of illegal housing, and she found a receptive ear among voters. “She played Donald Trump’s agenda,” Jens-Smith said.
“One of my platforms was overcrowding,” Aguiar said. “There is a direct correlation with the school expansion.” She agreed her victory may have been victory for Trump Republicans. “There is a possibility of a trend. One election won’t dictate it,” Aguiar commented.
It was a clean sweep for the GOP, as incumbent Councilman Tim Hubbard and newcomer Frank Beyrodt were also elected to the town board.
Unofficial results from the Suffolk County Board of Elections show Aguiar received 54 percent of the votes, 4437, with absentee ballots yet to be counted. Jens-Smith had 45.7 percent of the vote. The two Republican town board candidates were the top vote-getters among five hopefuls vying for two seats: Hubbard garnered nearly 30 percent of the vote and Beyrodt, 27.6, easily vanquishing Jens-Smith’s running mates Patricia Snyder and Diane Tucci.
Aguiar, in a series of position papers posted on her website, made it clear she plans on aggressively rooting out illegal town residents. “My platform is based on . . . increased and proactive code enforcement” she said. She has proposed hiring two more code enforcers and to work more closely with the school district to identify children who attend schools in the district illega1ly.The GOP also swept the race for two town assessors.
Jens-Smith received endorsements from Newsday and the Riverhead News Review to no avail. Aguiar felt she had a sense of what the townsfolk wanted. “I’ve been around since 1999,” she said. “I have a Ph.D in business. I’m a member of the Moose, the Lions, and the Elk clubs.”
She noted that Riverhead is historically a Republican town but she has not ruled out a future foray into politics. “I’m not closing the door. We’re going to re-group. I love this town,” Jens-Smith said.