Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

Laura Jens-Smith was sworn in Monday as Riverhead Town’s first female supervisor in its 226-year history.

Jens-Smith, a Democrat from Laurel, defeated eight-year incumbent Republican Supervisor Sean Walter on Nov. 7, creating a first-ever female majority of two Democrats and one Republican on the town’s five-member board. Incumbent Republican Jodi Giglio was sworn in for her eighth term on Monday, as was newcomer Catherine Kent, one of Jens-Smith’s running mates.

Republicans will still have a 3-2 majority on the board, with incumbents Jim Wooten and Tim Hubbard holding the remaining seats.

“Together let us all embrace the dawning of a new day,” said the master of ceremonies, the Rev. Cynthia A. Liggon of First Baptist Church of Riverhead.

Jens-Smith, 55, delivered a message of determination and collaboration during her brief remarks at Pulaski Street School following the oath administered by her childhood friend Karen Gross.

“Two years ago I ran for[Riverhead Town Board] and while I didn’t succeed then, I didn’t give up either,” she said. “And today I am proud and grateful to be standing here as the first woman supervisor in our town’s history.”

She referenced Navy SEAL candidates, who can signal their resignation by ringing a bell during a brutal stretch of training known as “Hell Week.”

“We are all standing here to work together to move Riverhead forward and you can just be sure that we will never ring that bell,” she said.

Jens-Smith became a vocal critic of the town board during her candidacy, particularly of the proposed $40 million sale of town-owned land at Enterprise Park at Calverton to Luminati Aerospace LLC. She raised questions about the company’s financing and called for an outside party to investigate the deal.

One of her first orders of business will be a Jan. 17 hearing to determine whether Calverton Aviation & Technology LLC — the venture between Luminati and its new financial backers, Canada-based developer Triple Five Ventures Co. LLC — is qualified and eligible to develop the Calverton property.

“I’m going in with an open mind, but I do have a lot of questions,” Jens-Smith said after the nearly one-hour ceremony.

Jens-Smith has hired John Marafino as her chief of staff. Campaign manager Cindy Clifford and Patrick Derenze will serve as legislative secretaries, and current Deputy Supervisor Jill Lewis will stay on in the nonelected post during the transition, Jens-Smith said.

Highway Superintendent George “Gio” Woodson, a Democrat, and Town Assessor Laverne Tennenberg, a Republican, were also sworn in. Deputy Highway Superintendent Michael Zaleski took the oath for his nonelected post.

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