A new Republican candidate is challenging incumbent Councilmen Edward Wehrheim and Robert Creighton in the primary election next month.
Kings Park resident Lisa Inzerillo, 50, will appear third on the ballot, after Creighton, and Wehrheim, respectively. The Suffolk County Board of Elections held a lottery drawing for ballot positions Wednesday, Inzerillo said. Inzerillo filed her petition with the elections board in early July. A general objection filed by two members of the Smithtown Republican Committee has since expired, making a primary inevitable, said Nick LaLota, the Republican commissioner of the Suffolk County Board of Elections.
Inzerillo collected 911 signatures, hundreds more than the 500 required by state law. That number was particularly resonant because Inzerillo lost her husband, William Krukowski, an FDNY firefighter, in the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
"We were all taken aback," Inzerillo said, of the number of signatures gathered. "We wanted to get a thousand but we decided to stop there."
The Smithtown Republican Committee reviewed the signatures but did not file any specific objections. Committee chairman Bill Ellis cautioned that Inzerillo's petition has irregularities, including what he said were signatures from unregistered Republicans, that he will forward to county election officials for review.
Voters in the Sept. 10 primary will select two of the three candidates to move on to the general election in November for the seats now held by Creighton and Wehrheim.
Inzerillo, who owns an online business and is a Kings Park Civic Association board member, has never held elected office. She said she views her inexperience as an "absolute asset," calling herself the opposite of a career politician.
She said she wants to preserve Smithtown "the way that the residents want it," including maintaining parks and adopting a business development approach that is more sensitive to the size of commercial areas.
Wehrheim, 66, said his platform focuses on smart commercial development, including support for enhancing downtown business districts and commercial areas such as the Hauppauge Industrial Park. He has served on the town council for 12 years.
Creighton, 77, a council member for seven years, said he is proud of helping attract new business and hopes to continue efforts to keep tax rates low.
Both said they welcome new candidates into the race. But Ellis said primaries divert the party from its "true cause," keeping the town Republican come November. The last Democratic town council member was Patricia Biancaniello, who was in office from 2005 to 2009.
Supervisor Patrick Vecchio, a Republican, has endorsed Inzerillo, because, "her opponents want to raise taxes and grow government," he said in a telephone interview.
The Smithtown Democrat nominee for councilman, Larry Vetter, 62, said he envisions a vibrant downtown area with hubs such as music venues and coffee shops, akin to Brooklyn's Park Slope neighborhood. Vetter is an environmental consultant who also has not held public office.