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Crowded primary ballot in Smithtown

After announcing two bids for grinding, transporting, and

After announcing two bids for grinding, transporting, and disposing of tree stumps remaining from superstorm Sandy have been awarded, Smithtown Town Supervisor Patrick Vecchio estimated hundreds of tons of stumps left by Sandy would be ground. Credit: Handout, 2011

The September primary ballot in Smithtown -- already featuring a marquee matchup for town supervisor -- became more crowded Thursday.

As many as 13 candidates may appear in Republican and Conservative contests for five town and county seats.

Candidates had until Thursday to file primary ballot petitions, which opponents have about a week to challenge.

As expected, Republican Councilman Robert Creighton -- who is seeking to unseat 36-year Supervisor Patrick Vecchio -- collected enough signatures to face Vecchio in the GOP primary.

Vecchio received more than 1,800 signatures and Creighton more than 1,300 -- well more than the 500 needed, town GOP chairman Bill Ellis said.

Vecchio said he was "gratified that all of those committeemen and volunteers worked so hard on my behalf."

Creighton, the Conservative designee to run against Vecchio, faces a challenge in that party's primary from political unknown Mary DeVietro. Creighton said he was unfamiliar with DeVietro, who could not be reached for comment.

"This is the system," Creighton said of being challenged. "They're entitled to do it, and I welcome them."

DeVietro is backed by former town Highway Superintendent Daniel Donnelly, who ran an unsuccessful campaign for town council two years ago. Donnelly said he circulated petitions for DeVietro, council candidate James Ceseretti and town clerk hopeful Frances Kalabza.

Smithtown Conservative chairman Gary Forte said he plans to challenge the validity of signatures on Donnelly's petitions. Forte said Donnelly is "trying to wreak havoc on every Smithtown election that comes up. . . . It costs the taxpayers over $100,000" to pay primary election expenses.

Donnelly declined to discuss the candidates' backgrounds or qualifications for office, but said they are "running for ethical reasons. They're running because this town board thinks they can do whatever they want to do."

Attempts to reach Ceseretti and Kalabza were unsuccessful.

In other town races, County Legis. Lynne C. Nowick (R-St. James) gained enough signatures to run a Republican primary against incumbent councilmen Thomas McCarthy and Kevin Malloy. Nowick cannot keep her legislature seat due to term limits.

Nowick, who failed to win the party's endorsement for town council, said she collected more than 1,300 signatures. "Of course you have concerns," she said of running without party backing. "I'm going to put one foot in front of the other and take one step at a time. . . . I will work hard, and we'll see what happens."

Attorney Paul Hennings, the GOP's preferred candidate to replace Nowick, could face off in the primary against Suffolk police Officer Robert Trotta and union activist Mario Mattera. Ellis said Trotta and Mattera filed petitions, but it was unclear whether they had enough signatures. "On the surface, it looks like they have enough," he said.

Democrats named contractor Anthony Lupo Sr. to run against incumbent Republican Highway Superintendent Glenn Jorgensen, who also will run with Conservative endorsement. Former Democratic chairwoman Elaine Turley, an attorney specializing in elder law who lost two previous campaigns for county legislator, will run for Nowick's seat.

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