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Supervisor-elects in Hempstead, Riverhead anxious to start agendas

Donald X. Clavin Jr. will become Hempstead Town

Donald X. Clavin Jr. will become Hempstead Town supervisor Wednesday, and in Riverhead Town, Yvette Aguiar will become supervisor. Credit: Newsday / Yeong-Ung Yang; Joseph D. Sullivan

Incoming first-time supervisors in Riverhead and Hempstead towns will be sworn in on Wednesday, but they've already begun working on their legislative agendas.

Yvette Aguiar said Monday that she has several issues she wants to tackle immediately upon taking office in Riverhead. Among them are working with law enforcement officials to bolster safety in downtown Riverhead and improving the communication between the Riverhead School District and town residents and officials.

That discourse, Aguiar said, could be key in tackling overcrowded housing, which residents and parents in the school district said has increased the population in their local schools.

“All of our surrounding towns have a working relationship with their school boards and code enforcement to address overcrowded housing,” she said. “Unfortunately, the town and the school district have no relationship with each other. We need to open the lines of communication between the taxpayers, the town and the school district, and I’m hoping that we can start that conversation and we can open those lines of communication.”

Last week, Aguiar announced her new office staff for Town Hall, which will include people with a background in political science and experience with Suffolk County law enforcement.

Aguiar has chosen Denise Merrifield as her deputy supervisor. Merrifield, a Wading River resident, previously worked as an assistant district attorney and later as deputy bureau chief at the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office. Merrifield holds a Juris Doctor degree from Albany Law School and a bachelor's degree in political science from Stony Brook University.

Devon Higgins will be chief of staff. Higgins, of Jamesport, has a degree in business administration from Loyola University in Baltimore, and is a certified paralegal. Aguiar said Higgins has “extensive knowledge” in real estate acquisitions and building permitting.

Patrick Derenze, who is the legislative assistant to outgoing Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith, will stay on temporarily to help with the transition, Aguiar said.

“We will have a dynamic team with profound experience and knowledge,” Aguiar said. “I can assure you, they all have expressed their desire and commitment to help move our town forward.”

Aguiar will be sworn in at 1 p.m. at the Suffolk Theater in Riverhead.

In Hempstead, Donald X. Clavin Jr. said he plans to sign his oath of office Wednesday morning and begin working at Hempstead Town Hall.

A formal inauguration ceremony with Town Clerk Kate Murray, town board members Bruce Blakeman, Thomas Muscarella and Chris Carini and Receiver of Taxes Jeanine Driscoll will be held Jan. 7.

Clavin plans to announce his executive staff this week.

The town board hired Comptroller John Mastromarino, Director of Communications Greg Blower and other former Clavin staffers at its Dec. 17 meeting.

Clavin said he plans to enter office by cutting the supervisor’s budget by $1 million.

He said he will meet with staff to review commissioner and deputy commissioner positions and other cost-saving measures. Clavin also has vowed to eliminate take-home cars for some commissioners.

“People expect me to be in office, so I’ll be there Jan. 1, working there before 9 a.m. and holding meetings,” Clavin said. “I’m humbled taxpayers gave me this opportunity and I intend to work as hard as l can, holding the line on taxes and providing great services, putting residents first.”

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