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Huntington Town councilman to vie for supervisor seat

Huntington Town Board member Gene Cook has announced

Huntington Town Board member Gene Cook has announced he will run against Supervisor Chad Lupinacci, a fellow Republican, in the November election. Credit: Johnny Milano

Huntington Town Supervisor Chad Lupinacci said he is ready to defend his seat against fellow Republican and town board colleague Gene Cook, who announced Thursday he is running for supervisor.

Cook made the announcement during a Facebook Live fundraiser from Oheka Castle.

Cook said the results of a phone poll conducted Feb. 15-17 that he commissioned about the race and Lupinacci showed the incumbent would not win if nominated for reelection, so he decided to run. The town councilman said he did not know how many people participated in the poll. He said while he likes Lupinacci and considers him a friend, he thinks the current supervisor has too much bad press that reflects negatively on the town.

"Chad can’t win," Cook said Friday. "The polls are just so against him."

Lupinacci said Friday in an email that he was ready to fight for his seat.

"I am prepared for a primary and running on my record against a challenge from someone who has only been a Republican for a few months," the email said.

The Huntington Republican Committee has not announced whether it will nominate Lupinacci to run for reelection. Lupinacci's term ends at the end of this year.

The supervisor’s term is for four years and the job pays an annual salary of $163,608.50, according to Newsday payroll data.

Lupinacci has been sued over sexual harassment accusations by a former employee who worked for him while he was a state assemblyman from 2013 to 2017. He also was the subject of a town investigation in 2020 by independent counsel into a sexual harassment allegation that was found to be unsubstantiated. Two Lupinacci administration appointees have had to resign — one over sending a vulgar email and another who was accused of lying on a Civil Service application.

Cook, 58, of Greenlawn, changed his party affiliation late last year from the Independence Party to Republican. He is in his third four-year term on the board.

In a Facebook post Thursday that was later sent to Newsday, Lupinacci called Cook’s poll "outrageous" and said that it contains "false and defamatory statements" and that even in the rough game of politics, Cook’s behavior is not normally acceptable conduct.

"It has been my practice as an elected official to take the high road and ignore or refrain from the insults and accusations that now seem customary in politics, because the residents of Huntington deserve far better than having their leaders operate from the metaphorical gutter," Lupinacci’s post said. "While I will continue to occupy that moral high ground, even in the face of unsavory attacks, I must push back when lies are circulated with the intention of impugning my character and integrity."

Cook said he’s interviewing for the supervisor nomination with the Conservative Party next week and that the Republicans still have an opportunity to give him the nomination.

"Actually, I’m hoping to get it," Cook said.

Calls to Huntington Republican Committee chair Tom McNally were not returned.

The Huntington Democratic Committee has announced its slate for the November election. Tapped to run for supervisor is Huntington Station resident Rebecca Sanin, president and chief executive of the Health and Welfare Council of Long Island, a nonprofit health and human services planning, education and advocacy organization. She previously worked as an assistant deputy county executive for Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone. Jennifer Hebert, of Huntington, and Joe Schramm, of Northport, will run for town board.

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