Hours after Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter lost his bid for a Suffolk County Legislator seat to Southold Town Councilman Al Krupski by a landslide, members of the Riverhead Republican party are reflecting on the defeat.
Unofficial results on the Suffolk County Board of Elections website show Krupski with 6,561 votes to Walter's 3,182 – 67 percent of the vote – with all 65 election districts reporting.
"It's time for the Riverhead town board to pull together," said Riverhead Town Councilwoman Jodi Giglio. "This is not Washington, DC. We are a community and represent the people of Riverhead for the greater good. It's time for performance, not politics."
Personality came into play during the election, Riverhead Councilman George Gabrielsen said, with Walter's self-professed "outspoken" demeanor perhaps an issue for voters.
"It was a little disappointing but I think one point became clear to me: You can't lead from a bully pulpit," Gabrielsen said. "That was a big reflection of the candidates' different personalities. Sean has done a lot of good, and could have done a lot of good, but people have seen that."
Riverhead Councilman Jim Wooten said he looks forward to working with Krupski. "Al Krupski ran a good campaign and has record of bipartisan work ethics. I feel the voters recognized this quality and found it more suited for a county office. Sean worked hard and stayed on point, but it didn't resonate among the electorate. I look forward to working with Al the same way I did with Ed Romaine.The needs and issues facing the East End are unique and I am confident that Al Krupski understands it given his background."
Riverhead Republican committee chairman John Galla reflected on the loss. "From our standpoint, it was a well-fought race," he said. "I think we did a superlative job working with the district but it didn't resonate with the voters. It's certainly not through lack of work. It's very different when you end up being on the short end side of things."
But, he said, "the voters have spoken." During his speech, Walter was "very magnanimous," Galla said. Galla accompanied Walter from Cody's to the Dark Horse, where the Democrats were celebrating, to congratulate Krupski.
"He did the right thing," Galla said, of Walter. "Now's the time for intergovermental relations. I think we all know that now, the town board and the supervisor in Riverhead will work with the new legislator to do the best for the district and Riverhead. I heard that in Sean's voice, as well. It sounds corny, but I think it's true. Say what you will about the man but I think that's the cut of his jib."
running for town board in the next election, said the election results were a sign that change is needed.
"This is a tough defeat; there is no way to shine this shoe. I love Sean personally, he has done great things for Riverhead, but this is a complete rejection of the governance of this town board and the pettiness of Riverhead politics. Things have to change," he said. "Sometimes you have to swallow bitter medicine. The national Republican party doesn't seem to have not gotten the memo that it lost handily in November -- the local party cannot make that same mistake."
True change, Coates added, "comes by humbling oneself, taking inventory and acting decisively. Riverhead Republicans need to understand that they need to change their ways to keep the public's trust."
After the vote Tuesday, Riverhead Councilman John Dunleavy reflected: "You can see the Democrats got the Democrats out to vote. The Republicans did not get the Republican voters out ... On the good side he gets to stay as our supervisor. He's a good man and he's doing good things for our town."