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Smithtown Supervisor Patrick Vecchio leveled a highly personal verbal assault against his challenger Robert Creighton, a town board member, last week in their first face-to-face appearance since announcing their candidacies.
The exchange took place at the end of a Smithtown Republican committee meeting Wednesday night attended by about 140 committee members at the Elks Hall.
Witness say Vecchio, the last speaker of the evening, expressed anger that he had to appear before the committee to defend himself after 30 years and accused Creighton and another board member, Ed Wehrheim, of stabbing him in the back. Witnesses also say Vecchio warned that if he was defeated, it could lead to the return of corruption he found when he first took office in the 1970s.
Even supporters were surprised by Vecchio’s invective. “He opened up with both barrels and it got very personal,” said one Republican sympathetic to Vecchio but who did not wish to be identified. “He unloaded when he didn’t have to. It’s going to be a long way to November.”
Creighton, who spoke before Vecchio did, praised the supervisor’s long term but was critical of town operations and department heads. Later, Creighton said he was “stunned” by Vecchio’s remarks but declined to respond when Smithtown GOP chairman Bill Ellis offered him a chance to do so. “It was so bizarre it was ridiculous,” Creighton said.
Vecchio did not return calls for comment.
“It was a very entertaining meeting,” Ellis said later. “The supervisor said what he felt he had to say, and Mr. Creighton said what he has to say.”