GOP candidate Robert Creighton lost a key battle in Tuesday's primary, but he says his win in the Conservative race will help him keep waging the war in his bid to become Smithtown supervisor in November.
Town Supervisor Patrick Vecchio won the closely watched Republican primary with 3,245 votes, beating Councilman Creighton's 2,566 votes, per the preliminary results.
But the two will still face off in the general election, after Creighton's Conservative primary victory (314 votes) over Linda Donnelly, who received 55 votes.
Creighton said he plans to "honor my commitment" to Conservatives, by running in the general election.
"We have deteriorating downtowns. We have no commercial businesses coming to town . . . and the roads have to be fixed," he said. "We have to change the negative approach of the Town of Smithtown toward the public and toward the business community."
Vecchio, Long Island's longest tenured supervisor with more than 35 years in office, said he would rather not face a fellow Republican "under the Conservative banner."
But he plans to run "the same campaign based on fiscal stability and quality of life and to meet all challenges head-on with determination as I've done in the past."
He and Creighton will also face Steve Snair, the Democratic, Independence and Working Families candidate who did not have a primary. Snair said in a statement that he looks forward to "having a lively debate with my opponents regarding our visions for the future of Smithtown."
The Vecchio-Creighton contest was the primary's marquee race, but the GOP race for two town council seats also produced an upset.
Legis. Lynne C. Nowick (R-St. James) and Councilman Thomas J. McCarthy were top vote-getters with 3,830 and 3,216 votes, respectively. Councilman Kevin Malloy, whom the party had endorsed with McCarthy, trailed with 2,937 votes.
Malloy will appear on the ballot because he won the Conservative primary, earning 321 votes, followed by McCarthy's 299 and Kathleen DiBernardo's 173. But Malloy said he hopes absentee ballots, which the county board of elections should receive by Tuesday, push him to a GOP primary win.
If re-elected, Malloy said, he hopes to help revitalize parks that are in poor condition and look out for seniors. Malloy credited Nowick's success to her ubiquitous presence in the local media.
Nowick, a former town tax receiver whose late father was a town councilman, said she felt "the public respected how I stood on the issues" -- opposing controversial development proposals near residential neighborhoods -- "and voted accordingly."
McCarthy said the primary results showed "it was a grassroots campaign from the citizens who want to preserve their quality of life; and that's what this election about."Smithtown Highway Superintendent Glenn Jorgensen won the Conservative primary with 353 votes, to Thomas D. McCarthy's 130. Smithtown clerk Vincent Puleo also won the Conservative primary with 357 votes, to Frances Kalabza's 97.The unofficial primary results will be certified following a verification of votes that begins next week, said Jesse Garcia, a representative from Suffolk County Board of Elections Commissioner Wayne Rogers' office.
The office has already received 281 of the 578 Town of Smithtown absentee ballots that have been requested, said Garcia.
Some absentee ballot holders do not mail in their ballots or vote, so it remains undetermined whether 578 ballots will be mailed in, Garcia said.