Catherine Kent for Supervisor Riverhead
RIVERHEAD, NY – Residents of Suffolk County will go to the polls on Tuesday to elect local representatives and make their voices heard.
Residents will vote for the race to represent one of Suffolk County’s 18 legislative districts, vote for Suffolk County Attorney and Sheriff – and choose elected officials from their local town.
Ahead of the election, Patch asked candidates to answer questions about their campaign – and the results will be released as candidate profiles in the days leading up to the vote.
Outgoing Councilor Catherine Kent is running against incumbent Yvette Aguiar for the seat of City Supervisor of Riverhead. Kent works on Republican and Work Families lines; Aguiar is running on the Republican and Conservative lines.
Here are all of Patch’s Q&A with Catherine Kent:
Age (on polling day)
City of Riverhead Supervisor
I have three grown children, Travis, Daniel and Emma.
Does anyone in your family work in politics or in government?
Riverhead High School, BS in Education from Central Methodist University, MS in Liberal Studies from Stony Brook University
Riverhead teacher for 33 years, Riverhead city councilor for 4 years
Previous or current office elected or appointed
Why are you looking for an elective position?
As a longtime resident of Riverhead, a teacher for over 30 years and a four-year city councilor, I have the knowledge and expertise to run the town. As a longtime Riverhead advocate, I would be proud to serve as a supervisor.
The most pressing issue facing our (council, district, etc.) is _______, and that’s what I intend to do about it.
The most important issue before Riverhead Town is safety. We need to improve our Riverhead Police Service. Despite significant economic development and growth over the past three decades and the resulting increase in police demands, the Riverhead Police Department has not been expanded to meet the needs of our growing city and evolving. Public safety is the cornerstone of everything we try to accomplish at Riverhead. The continued rejuvenation and redevelopment of our downtown and new Town Square depends on attracting new residents to Riverhead. People need to feel safe. I will fill any vacancies within the Riverhead Police Department as soon as possible. I would work with the Police Chief and the PBA to determine the appropriate number of officers needed for a town the size of Riverhead, including the cumulative impacts of all completed and proposed high density buildings downtown. I would ask the County of Suffolk for help in tackling homelessness and ensuring that any future development in Riverhead contributes to the funding of the Riverhead Police Department, so that the burden does not fall on the taxpayers.
What are the critical differences between you and other candidates for this position?
As an elected official, I never forget that I work for the people of Riverhead. My opponent received 72% of his campaign donations from outside influences and developers with open and pending applications before the city. My opponent has fast-track plans for developers who have made significant donations to his political campaign. I scrutinize each project with a keen eye, asking the tough questions to make sure the project benefits our community. Foreigners should not influence our city. I understand how vital the community’s contribution is to good government. I would open up the lines of communication with the community by reinstating the zoom option for city council meetings and adding evening meetings, so that residents have the opportunity to speak out on issues and areas of concern.
If you are a challenger, how has the current board or incumbent failed the community (or district or constituency)
Our community has been vocal in its concerns about the huge apartment buildings in the downtown area. They have valid concerns about the impacts of such buildings on our schools, roads, police, fire departments, traffic, water and on the general character of our downtown. Progress must be guided by a balanced approach, so that development does not overtake infrastructure. I look at each project with a careful objective. My opponent has stepped up plans for friends who have made significant donations to his political campaign. Another pressing issue is that Riverhead signed a contract to sell 1,643 acres to EPCAL at Triple Five. Triple Five failed to show us the financial documents, an appropriate business plan, or a timeline for the project. The current supervisor continues to move forward with this bad deal. We should get away from the worst land deal in the Northeast and put the property back on the market.
How do you think the local authorities reacted to the coronavirus? What if something would you have done differently?
When Covid struck, the current supervisor built a plywood wall in the town hall lobby to keep residents out. She threw a policeman out. This sent the wrong message to our community. I would immediately have had a press conference with representatives from Peconic Bay Medical Center to disseminate necessary information about the virus and resources for our community. I would have continued to give information with regular updates. The meetings were completely closed for three months. I would have had meetings through Zoom. It was a time when our residents needed to see their leaders work for them and protect them.
Describe the other issues that define your campaign platform.
1. The sale of 1,643 acres to EPCAL is a major issue. The city has pledged to sell this large piece of land on the EPCAL property for $ 40 million. The buyer did not demonstrate to the city that he had the financial means to build the property. They also did not show the city an appropriate development plan or give a timetable for construction. There was a clause in the contract that the city could opt out of the agreement at 365 days. The city needs to get away from the bad business and market it again. The sale included a 1,000-acre bonus that is expected to be withdrawn from the sale and turned into a passive park.
2. Riverhead has a large amount of development going on in our downtown and transit oriented area. Progress is a positive thing, but we must orient this development well so that it does not overload our infrastructures or lose sight of our uniqueness and our historical heritage.
3. As a long time resident, I know the value of our farming community in Riverhead. It is the beauty of the surrounding farms and the good products that attract us here. We need to support our farming community so that they can continue farming in our city for years to come.
What accomplishments in your past would you cite as proof that you can handle this job?
I take pride in my work as an advisor. During my tenure as city councilor, I formed the downtown revitalization committee. I worked with code enforcement, firefighters, and city lawyers to get homeowners to clean up dilapidated downtown buildings. I managed the Pattern Book, a community project for the future development of the city center and the town square. I secured funding to complete the Veterans Memorial Trail at EPCAL, added pickleball courts, and brought water to the Veterans Park Dog Park. I created Riverhead’s first environmental committee and worked with Peconic Green Growth and the Riverhead School District on a water conservation project to reduce water use on school property. I worked with the Anti-Garbage Committee to organize three garbage collections throughout the city, increasing the number of volunteers from 20 to 200. During the Covid pandemic, I helped stock the pantry shelves all over town and collaborated with Island Harvest on a food distribution. which has served over 500 families. I introduced new legislation, including an apprenticeship program and the dilapidated property tax surtax.
The best advice ever shared with me was:
The best advice I received was to be true to who I am.
What would you like voters to know about yourself and your positions?
As a long-time resident of Riverhead, a teacher for over 30 years and a member of City Council, I have a solid understanding of our town and its issues. My job at the town hall is more than a job, it’s a passion. I have made it my goal to make sure the residents’ voices are heard. I have never forgotten that I was elected to work for the people. I have a lifetime of loyalty and respect for the people and the future of Riverhead. I pledge to hire more police officers to patrol and serve our growing community, reduce taxes without gutting municipal services, enforce municipal codes to reduce dilapidated and unsafe housing, continue to revitalize downtown and protect our farms.