In a heated race for two open town board seats are incumbent Republican candidates Jodi Giglio, John Dunleavy and GOP challenger Anthony Coates.
For the supervisor's seat, Riverhead Town Democratic Committee's choice Angela DeVito has been challenged in the primary by Ann Cotten-DeGrasse, who is currently Riverhead Central School District Board of Education president.
For the Independence line, candidates Dunleavy and Giglio are challenged in a primary by Bill Bianchi.
In the only public debate held before the primary — the debate was co-sponsored by RiverheadLOCAL and the Riverhead News-Review — candidates for town board seats engaged in a heated debate.
At the debate, the two candidates hoping to challenge incumbent Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter also went head to head on a number of issues.
Cotten-DeGrasse said if voters came away with one message, it should be, "We must raise revenue."
The town, she said, is fighting a deficit.
As for Enterprise Park at Calverton, Cotten-DeGrasse said a committee should be formed to look at choices for the future; the group should be comprised of business people, environmentalists and real estate agents.
"We need to work smarter," she said.
DeVito suggested using temporary workers in town who could come in and perform town functions for needed services.
Also, she said, the town should seek to get its fair share of state and county sales tax revenue generated by Riverhead businesses, in order to support services.
DeGrasse said her vision for EPCAL would be to see it become "Long Island's silicone valley," with a focus on business, biotech industries, research, education, and freight, because of the rail spur.
Devito said the town should be mindful of potential land speculators who might come and buy up small parcels and later, "jack up prices" when future businesses want to expand and buy adjacent properties.
Both Devito and DeGrasse have served as Riverhead board of education presidents.
Other issues discussed included transparency in government, and appointments to planning and zoning boards.
Devito said members of those boards are required to go to mandatory training, but is not sure it's happened. She also said term limits are critical.
"We can't have people who've been there 15 or 20 years. It doesn't work for the town of Riverhead," she said.
DeGrasse said criteria was needed for board appointments. "It's outrageous that some appointments are made, and people stay on indefinitely. It's almost like a God-given right, once you're on, you stay on."
DeVito said it's imperative that the independent boards and town board communicate more effectively.
"This does not happen now," she said. "The left hand does know what the right hand is doing."
On the subject of revitalization in downtown Riverhead, DeVito said people should be comfortable bringing their concerns to Town Hall.
She also said partnering with Southampton Town and the county on Riverside revitalization was critical; that area remains "blighted," with prostitution, drug dealers, and assaults, she said.
"Beautifying this side of the river is not going to work if we don't address the other side."
DeGrasse said she did not believe a planned pedestrian bridge was the answer.
"I think we have to look at what we can do and afford and prioritize," she said. "That bridge should be low on our priority list."
DeVito said the bridge was not what she was discussing; her goal is to partner up to see Riverside revitalization move forward.
Eminent domain downtown was also discussed.
Before Tuesday's primary, DeGrasse told Patch: "I have the skills and endurance to change this town government into a productive team. I hope the voters will give me that opportunity."
DeVito said voters should choose her for a number of reasons: "I have 30-plus years of public service in a variety of levels of government-local, state, and federal," she said. "My commitment to our local town government spans 13-plus years. I have attended numerous Town Board sessions, work sessions, testified before the ZBA, the planning board, and the IDA. I also worked on the Comprehensive Plan, reviewing the original proposals prior to passage of the Plan in 2003; I also worked on the zone use districts language as they were being crafted in 2004."
She added, "When people become disenchanted with their elected officials, they remove them. In order to beat Sean Walter in November, we need a candidate that can truly challenge him and is electable — I am that person."