Supervisor Yvette Aguiar is more than just a public servant, but an American hero, and this week’s East End Powerbroker.
Yvette was elected to the position of Supervisor in 2019—her first election for public office. Her qualifications are many and varied, whether it is her Doctorate in Business Administration or two decades as a Sergeant with the New York City Police Department’s Counter Terrorism Division. She is also a professor with the American Military University, where she teaches graduate-level courses in management and security.
In shaping Supervisor Aguiar’s views on public service, she recalls the traumatic experience of September 11, 2001. The Riverhead Supervisor was then a plain-clothes officer in the NYPD. Aguiar was directly across the street from the Towers at the time of impact. She would spend the next 14 months at Ground Zero and at the New York City morgue, assisting in recovery efforts.
“Having the credentials, knowledge, and experience following 9-11, I wanted to continue to work with my experience,” she said. “Unfortunately, September 11, 2001—the largest terrorist attack in American history—began a terrorism war. Today, we are seeing a health war. To see both of these events, from different perspectives, has been tremendously challenging…and it has been tremendously helpful for me with the coronavirus, having experience following the attacks.”
The Aguiar family began residing in Hampton Bays in 1999 and moved to Riverhead in 2012, she and her husband Paul Carr designed and built their dream retirement home. Immediately upon arrival in Riverhead, she became known around town as a local “rising star,” and someone with a vast array of interests that made her qualified in local affairs.
In 2019, she took all of her experience, made a palm card, and sought the position of Chief Executive of the Town of Riverhead when she became the first Latina in Suffolk County to hold the esteemed position of Town Supervisor.
Riverhead encompasses 15 hamlets on the North Fork beginning at the mouth of the Peconic River. Within the town are countless tourist attractions ranging from wine country to the Big Duck, with rapidly growing population size. Aguiar, who some have called a political newcomer, realized that this role would be no small-feat.
After winning election, Aguiar took over the reigns as supervisor with large plans to increase code enforcement, revitalize Riverhead downtown, maintain the agricultural heritage of the town and preserve farmland, and a handful of law enforcement and emergency service issues such as ensuring that the town’s ambulance communication system was properly funded.
A stark contrast, Aguiar says, from the previous administration.
“With certain restrictions due to COVID-19, we have not been able to address the evictions to the extent to which the Town of Riverhead is satisfied,” she said. “However, we also have a tremendous list of accomplishments, of which I am proud of—not the least of which is opening up Main Street to the waterfront, with the purchase of three buildings, which will soon become a Town Square. With intergovernmental cooperation between Congressman Lee Zeldin and the county executive, we are getting this done as part of a beautification and economic development effort.
“We are also in the process of revitalizing our transit area, which has been a long time blight on our community,” she continued. “With a lot of interest from developers, this project is moving forward rapidly.”
Aguiar gets her sense of service from her commitment to the people, often saying in public settings that “you serve your people best when you serve them first.” This has, in many ways, become a mantra of her administration, which, she says, has allowed her to utilize her skills, and knowledge in private and public life to better the lives of Riverhead residents.
Though, in her second year, she has another serious campaign ahead.
Serving in office has taught her to apply the skills of teamwork, collaboration, critical thinking and problem solving. Aguiar says one of the most blatant times that these characteristics were put to test was first through the 9/11 terrorist attacks and now, the COVID-19 pandemic, both who share many emergency management similarities.
Throughout her first term, she has become one of the most outspoken, active, and high-profile officials on the East End, most notably when it comes to revitalization. The Aguiar administration has sought a Master Developer to help the town chart its path forward with responsible development that poises the town for sustainability and future success.
She has also, though, been tireless in advocating for the residents of Riverhead with regard to vaccine fairness during the pandemic. In March, she was able to secure over 300 vaccinations for the vulnerable senior population, and seeks to do more.
Aguiar is engaged in her community and is a member of the Riverhead Lions, Elks and Moose clubs. She is also a puppy raiser for the Guide Dog Foundation for the blind and is currently raising a black lab she named River.
As much as Aguiar is a history maker, she is a public servant who cares deeply about our East End communities and those within the Town of Riverhead. She is a power player, a power broker, and someone who seeks two more years of leadership to further her mission of a better Riverhead for all and to complete many of the efforts she initiated in her first term.