Races to Watch: Top Town Jobs on East End Ballots This Election Day

Peter Van Scoyoc
East Hampton Town Supervisor, Peter Van Scoyoc
T.E McMorrow

East End voters will decide a pair of pivotal town supervisor races that are among dozens of local offices on ballots in the Hamptons and on the North Fork in this fall’s elections.

Democratic East Hampton Town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc has two challengers: Republican hospitality business owner Kenneth Walles and Jeffrey Bragman, a town council member running on the Independence Party line. Republican Riverhead Town Supervisor Yvette Aguiar is seeking a second term against Catherine Kent, the lone Democrat on the town board. Southampton and Shelter Island town supervisors are running unopposed, but there are races in all five East End towns for town council, trustee, justice, clerk, assessor and highway superintendent seats.

Also up this election cycle are the Suffolk County district attorney, sheriff and all 18 county legislative seats. Local judicial races will also be on ballots, but local Democratic and Republican leaders largely cross-endorse each other’s candidates in these races well before the elections, leaving voters no real choice other than a longshot write-in candidate.

Ken Walles
Ken WallesRichard Lewin

EAST HAMPTON TOWN

Van Scoyoc is seeking his third two-year term amid ongoing debates over hot-button issues, including the future of the East Hampton Airport, the proposed offshore South Fork wind farm and the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on the region.

“I believe that my record is the strongest of any candidate, whether it be bringing renewable energy to the town to deal with climate change, or coastal erosion issues, water quality improvements, affordable housing, dealing with the airport — all of the pressing issues of our town,” Van Scoyoc said.

Walles touted his business experience as president of East Coast Management, a hospitality business, with decades in the hotel industry.

“I have the organizational skills,” he said. “I think the town needs a revamping overall. Identify the people in those positions that make an impact, not just a political appointee with no experience, to see what their qualifications are.”

Bragman said he’s concerned about the community’s future as the cost of living forces out residents.

Jeff Bragman, Suzanne Kelley
Jeff Bragman, Suzanne Kelley

“I get the most satisfaction when local government helps make lives better,” he said. “Working on affordable housing, slowing traffic, planning for sea level rise, limiting the impacts of aircraft, embracing renewable energy, grappling with issues small and large helps to sustain the community I cherish.”

The supervisor’s race is one of seven in the town, although four of the seats are uncontested. Running unopposed are East Hampton Town Clerk Carole Brennan, East Hampton Town Superintendent of Highways Stephen Lynch, East Hampton Town Justice Steven Tekulsky and East Hampton Town Assessor Eugene DePasquale.

Two town council seats are on ballots this cycle. One is the seat Bragman is forgoing in his bid for the supervisor’s post, and the other is Democrat Kathee Burke-Gonzalez seeking her third four-year term. Her running mate is Cate Rogers, a longtime former Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) member. Republicans vying for the two council positions are George Aman, a retired former East Hampton school board president, and Joseph Karpinski, an Amagansett Fire Department volunteer. Also running on the Independence line is John Whelan, who chairs the ZBA.

In the most competitive race, 17 candidates are running for East Hampton Town Trustee, the nine-member panel that oversees harbors, bays and beaches. Seeking re-election on the Democratic line are Clerk Francis Bock, Deputy Clerk William Taylor, Deputy Clerk James Grimes, John Aldred, Susan McGraw-Keber, Michael Martinsen, Timothy Garneau and Benjamin Dollinger. Incumbent Rick Drew is running on the Independence line after Democrats nominated David Cataletto for the ninth seat on the board. The local Republican and Conservative parties are running Reginald Cornelia, Lona Rubenstein, Alfred Schaffer, Deborah Ann Schwartz, David Talmage, Manuel Vilar Jr. and Willy Wolter. Grimes was cross-endorsed.

Riverhead Town Supervisor Yvette Aguiar and Riverhead Town Supervisor Catherine Kent
L. to R.: Riverhead Town Supervisor Yvette Aguiar and Riverhead Town Supervisor Catherine Kent

RIVERHEAD TOWN

Aguiar, a former New York City police detective sergeant who’s the first Latina elected as town supervisor on Long Island, is seeking her second two-year term leading the gateway to the North Fork.

Her Democratic opponent Kent, a retired teacher, is forgoing re-election to her council seat to challenge Aguiar. Although the two often butt heads at board meetings, each has worked to revitalize downtown Riverhead, most recently by shepherding the demolition of two buildings to advance the creation of a Town Square that will open the Peconic Riverfront to Main Street. The two part ways on whether recently legalized recreational marijuana sales should be allowed in the town and the future of the former U.S. Navy property known as the Enterprise Park at Calverton (EPCAL).

“I want to see good things happen in Riverhead,” said Kent. “We need to be listening to the residents.”

On the marijuana issue, Aguiar supported a proposal to opt out of allowing marijuana sales — legislation that did not pass, with Kent voting against. Kent has also run out of patience with Triple Five Group in contract to buy the EPCAL property, but Aguiar is taking a wait-and-see approach. Aguiar could not be reached for comment.

“My background in management at various institutions, both in the private and public sectors, and my higher educational background in teaching management, along with my supervisory law enforcement experience, has served me well,” Aguiar said after the GOP nominated her in February for re-election.

There are also four other contested races in the town. Republican Riverhead Town Councilman Kenneth Rothwell is the lone incumbent running for re-election this cycle. Voters will also choose who will fill the seat Kent is vacating. The three other candidates are Republican Riverhead Chamber of Commerce President Robert Kern and Democrats Evelyn Hobson-Womack, a retired Riverhead police detective, and Juan Micieli-Martinez, a local winemaker.

Two of the three members of the Riverhead Board of Assessment Review (BAR) are also up for re-election. BAR Chair Laverne Tennenbern, a Republican, is seeking re-election against Democrat Tara Taylor , a former rape crisis counselor, and GOP BAR member Dana Brown is running against Ellen Hoil, an attorney.

Two candidates are vying to replace retiring longtime Democrat Riverhead Superintendent of Highways George Woodson: Republican Michael Zaleski, the deputy highway superintendent, and Democrat William Renten Jr., a heavy equipment operator in the highway department.

SOUTHAMPTON TOWN

Democratic Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman is running unopposed at the top of the ticket, as is Southampton Town Clerk Sundy Schermeyer, who’s cross-endorsed, but voters have a choice in the town’s other four races.

Southampton Superintendent of Highways Alex Gregor, an Independence Party member, is also not running for re-election. Choices for his replacement are Democrat Thomas Neely, the town’s director of Public Transportation & Traffic Safety, and Republican Charles McArdle, a former town police detective.

Two town justice seats are on ballots, but only one of the two incumbents up this cycle is running for re-election: Republican Barbara Wilson. Also running are Republican Patrick Gunn, a former Suffolk prosecutor, and Democrats Adam Grossman, a former Riverhead town prosecutor, and Shari Oster, a longtime attorney. Southampton Town Justice Deborah Kooperstein won’t seek another term after hers expires on December 31 .

Of the two town board members up for re-election, Democratic Southampton Town Councilman Thomas Schiavoni is the only one running for another term, while Democratic Councilwoman Julie Lofstad declined to run again. Schiavoni’s running mate is Democrat Robin Long, a town planning board member. Their two Republican rivals are Cynthia McNamara, who chairs the East Quogue Citizens Advisory Committee, and Ann Thomas, a Wall Street investor.

Nine candidates are running for five Southampton town trustee seats. Running for re-election are Scott Horowitz, who serves as the board’s treasurer, Bill Pell, and Edward Warner Jr., who are all cross-endorsed, plus Democrat Ann Welker. Democratic challengers are Andrew Brosnan, Martha Reichert Jr. and Will Peckham. The GOP opponents are William Parash and Robert Savage. Trustee Eric Shultz, who’s president of the panel, is not seeking re-election.

SOUTHOLD TOWN

Southold has seven seats up this election, three of which are unopposed, and is the only East End town where the supervisor is not on ballots.

At the top of the ticket for the North Fork is the race to replace longtime Southold Town Clerk Elizabeth Neville, who is retiring. Voters will pick either Democrat Candace Hall, an insurance broker, or Republican Denis Noncarrow, the government liaison officer for the town’s economic development committee.

Republican Southold Superintendent of Highways is also not seeking re-election. Running for the job are Democrat Daniel Goodwin, who works for an environmental services company, and Republican Donald Grim, who owns a tow truck company.

Running unopposed for the town Board of Assessors are Republicans Charles Sanders and Kevin Webster, who chairs the board. Republican Southold Town Justice Eileen Powers has no challenger, neither does Louisa Evans, a member of the town board who is running for the justice seat to preside over cases on Fishers Island.

Four candidates are running to fill seats being vacated by Southold Town Councilmen Jim Dinizio and Bob Ghosio. The Republicans running are Anthony Sannino, who owns Sannino Vineyard, and Gregory Williams, who owns Country Time Cycle. Their Democratic opponents are Brian Mealy, a Mattituck-Cutchogue School Board member, and Greg Doroski of Greenport Harbor Brewing Company.

Three Southold town trustee seats are also up. Democrats Liz Gillooly, Eric Sepenoski and Elizabeth Peeples and running against Republicans Kristina Gabrielsen, Peter Johnstone Jr. and Jason A. Taggart for the seats.

SHELTER ISLAND TOWN

Shelter Island has a half dozen races on ballots, and three are contested.

Running unopposed for re-election are Democratic Shelter Island Town Supervisor Gerard Siller, Assessor Patricia Castoldi and Superintendent of Highways Brian Sherman, both of whom are cross-endorsed.

Republican Shelter Island Town Clerk Dorothy Ogar, who has held the post for more than 40 years, is facing a challenge from Democrat Kristina Martin-Majdisova, who works as a clerk for various town departments.

There are three town board seats on ballots this fall, but Republican Amber Brach-Williams is the only incumbent seeking re-election. She’s facing a three-way race between Democrat Brett Surerus, a property manager, and Republican Margaret Larsen, who’s vice president of Shelter Island Sand, Gravel, & Contracting, after Councilman Albert Dickson declined to run for another term.

Running for the two years left on the term of former Councilman Mike Bebon, who resigned in June, are Democrat Barbara Jean Ianfolla, who serves on the town’s board of assessors, and Republican Marcus Kaasik, a town planning board member.

Election Day falls on November 2 this year and the early voting period runs from October 23–31.

To find your polling place, visit suffolkcountyny.gov

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