Huntington pols announce cross-endorsement

Huntington Town Hall Huntington Town Hall Photo Credit: Alexi Knock

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Huntington Town Republicans and Conservatives cemented a cross-endorsement agreement Thursday night, jointly naming Councilman Gene Cook as their supervisor nominee and retired New York City firefighter Peter Gunther for highway superintendent for the fall elections.

Cook, a member of the Independence Party, was selected at the GOP's nominating convention Thursday night at the Thatched Cottage in Centerport. He will run against longtime incumbent Democrat Frank Petrone. Gunther will take on the winner of a three-way Democratic primary that includes incumbent William Naughton.

"You want a pulse, you want to get a feel for what's going on, you have a really good combination in someone who is steeped in the private sector and who has a great respect for the public sector," state Sen. John Flanagan (R-East Northport) said about Cook at the convention.

Cook, of Greenlawn, who owns an asphalt and concrete company, was elected to the town board in 2011 when he ran on the Independence, Republican and Conservative party lines. Gunther is a fire commissioner for the Centerport Fire District and a volunteer for its fire department.

Petrone, who first was elected in 1993 and screened last month with the Conservatives, said he expected the parties to do the cross-endorsement deal.

"I will run my campaign based on my record for a number of years and the great fiscal condition the town is in," he said, citing the town's AAA bond rating and its success holding the line on taxes.

The Republicans and Conservatives also endorsed GOP incumbent Councilman Mark Mayoka and Josh Price, a lawyer, for two town board seats.

Four years ago, the Republicans and Conservatives ran separate supervisor candidates, and Petrone won with 51.85 percent of the vote. The Republican and Conservative candidates received 37.93 percent and 10.22 percent, respectively, according to Suffolk Board of Elections records.

The five-member town board currently has three Democrats.

Conservative chairman Frank Tinari said at the meeting Thursday that the party's executive committee had authorized him to announce the cross-endorsement agreement.

"I have been involved in politics for many years, I can honestly say I have never seen the Democratic Party in this much disarray this close to the petition season," he said. Besides the highway superintendent primary, the Democrats face another potential primary for one of the town board seats.

"It just shows that it's there for us to win," Tinari said.

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