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Huntington GOP, Conservatives plan unified ticket

Huntington Town Hall in an undated photo.

Huntington Town Hall in an undated photo. Credit: Alexi Knock

Huntington Town Republicans will hold their nominating convention Thursday night and a cross-endorsement agreement with the Conservative Party is in the works.

The parties plan to present a "unified" ticket at the convention at the Thatched Cottage in Centerport, with town councilman and Independent Party member Gene Cook as the supervisor nominee, and Peter Gunther, a retired New York City firefighter, for highway superintendent, according to both parties' leaders.

"It's important for us to come together with a unified endorsement because our philosophies are alike and we believe it presents a strong ticket to the taxpayers for the type of the government that we believe the people would like to see," GOP chairwoman Toni Tepe said Wednesday.

"It was the decision of the screening committee based on what we need to do in terms of being victorious in November," said Tepe, referring to why they are considering backing Gunther after endorsing incumbent William Naughton four years ago. In April, the Conservative Party nominated Gunther of Centerport.

"One solid ticket that both parties can get behind would be great," said Conservative chief Frank Tinari.

Tepe said the parties also discussed endorsing incumbent Mark Mayoka and Josh Price, a lawyer, for the two board seats.

The Democratic Party's nominating convention continued Tuesday night, after its first meeting last week. Last Thursday, some people, including town board contender Tracey Edwards, expressed concerns about the committee member lists, saying various versions had been submitted to the candidates.

County Democratic chairman Rich Schaffer spoke at the convention Tuesday and accepted "full responsibility for that chaos you had to go through last Thursday." The town party decided not to nominate a second town board member in light of the concerns. Schaffer said he will work with the four contenders to encourage them to pick the strongest candidate among the group, saying that he would like to avoid a primary.

The four candidates are Edwards, a Verizon executive; lawyer and South Huntington school board member Edward Nitkewicz; Ed Perez, town zoning board of appeals member and president of the Diversity Resource Network marketing consulting organization, and Keith Barrett, Huntington Station Business Improvement District president. Edwards said Tuesday she felt the issue was resolved.

If they can't pick a candidate, a primary will be necessary, which would include incumbent Mark Cuthbertson. The party nominated him and incumbent Supervisor Frank Petrone last week. Cuthbertson said Wednesday he was hopeful Democrats would avoid a primary.

The Democrats also have another slated primary, after they couldn't decide on a highway superintendent last week. Two separate votes failed to produce a majority for Naughton or challengers Kevin Orelli, a business owner, and town parks chief Don McKay. Orelli and McKay overwhelmingly received more votes than Naughton.

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