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Huntington GOP screens Highway Superintendent Naughton

Huntington Town Hall in an undated photo.

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

Huntington's Democratic Highway Superintendent William Naughton has screened with the Republican Party for this fall's election, as the Democrats met this week with two others who have thrown their hats into the race.

Naughton has been the highway superintendent for about 25 years and his position, along with the town supervisor's, is up for grabs this fall. In recent years, the Democratic-majority town board and Naughton have been at odds over budgeting and hiring, and have traded lawsuits over the extent of Naughton's authority.

The Conservative Party has picked its candidate: Peter Gunther of Centerport, who has also screened with the GOP and Democrats, party officials said yesterday.

Gunther was chosen this week to be the highway superintendent nominee for the town's Conservative Party, according to party chairman Frank Tinari. Gunther, 57, a retired New York City firefighter, a fire commissioner for the Centerport Fire District and a volunteer for its fire department, said in an interview Wednesday he had been considering running for the position for a couple of years.

"I feel it is time for him to move on," said Gunther about Naughton.

According to a spokesperson for the town Democratic Party, town Parks chief Donald MacKay and business owner Kevin Orelli met with the party Tuesday night at a forum for candidates who aren't incumbents. The spokesperson said the party screened Gunther, but he isn't being considered for its highway department nomination, which will be announced at its convention in late May.

GOP chairwoman Toni Tepe said Wednesday the party has screened three people. She said the GOP and Conservative parties cross-endorsed Naughton four years ago and that Naughton asked to be screened about a month and half ago.

Because of the previous endorsement, "I felt it would be appropriate to honor this request," she said.

She said the GOP screened Naughton, Gunther and teacher Robert Schmiedecke in March. They will be screening another contender, private pilot Andrew Scanlon, on Wednesday, she said.

Naughton said in an interview yesterday he asked to be screened by the GOP because they endorsed him during the last election.

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