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Newsday endorses Sean Walter for Riverhead supervisor

Sean Walter, Conservative party candidate for Town of

Sean Walter, Conservative party candidate for Town of Riverhead Supervisor. Credit: James Escher

You don't often see a political party take out its own incumbent town supervisor. But this is Riverhead, where brawling is a political pastime and no one much likes each other, especially next week's three candidates for supervisor. Here's the scorecard:

Sean Walter, 49, an attorney from Wading River, is the six-year incumbent. He's a Republican running on the Conservative Party line after narrowly losing the Republican primary.

Jodi Giglio, 47, a Baiting Hollow developer whose primary job is to expedite building permits, is the six-year GOP town councilwoman who knocked Walter off the Republican line. Democrat Anthony Coates, 54, a Riverhead financial adviser and insurance broker, worked for Walter in public affairs in three prior races before a fallout and once switched parties to run a primary against Giglio.

They agree on many goals. The 2,900-acre Enterprise Park at Calverton must be developed smartly. Downtown Riverhead must be revitalized. The environment must be protected. The town's budget must get better. Walter says he's making progress on all fronts. He's mostly right. His opponents disagree to varying degrees.

Giglio says she would better manage the budget as a businesswoman, but she's been on the board all along. It's hard to be a change agent when you're in the power structure. And she and Coates lack specific ideas for improving town finances. We're also concerned about the money the Suffolk police union is spending on Giglio's campaign. Riverhead police are interested in merging with Suffolk County cops, which Walter strongly opposes. Giglio says she's also against the idea but has given conflicting signals, saying it would have to work for Riverhead police and taxpayers.

Downtown Riverhead finally shows signs of life. Walter says EPCAL's subdivision process is nearly done, with a big deal involving solar-powered drones on the horizon. He deserves one more term -- to see whether he can bring both to fruition, whether he can get the budget closer to balance, and whether he can soften the edges of his personality in a way that would lead to useful compromises. Newsday endorses Walter.


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