Smithtown GOP backs new candidate for supervisor

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Smithtown Republican officials finalized their support of Councilman Edward Wehrheim as the next candidate for town supervisor at a convention Tuesday evening — after dropping the party's 39-year incumbent.

Smithtown Republican Chairman Bill Ellis said the party is backing Wehrheim to replace Patrick Vecchio – the longest serving supervisor in New York state history. 

"Supervisor Vecchio has been here for 40 years, and he's approaching 87 years of age, and we just saw that he hasn't been the same person," Elllis said. "He has some serious maladies."

Many of the general committee members were not present during the convention, but they allowed Ellis to cast proxy votes. The move angered some Republicans at the convention, like Councilman Tom McCarthy, who called the vote a sham in a tense exchange with Ellis.

"Everybody got blank proxies, out of the 184 committee members," McCarthy said. "People didn't know they weren't voting for incumbents." 

Ellis said party leaders made the decision to support Wehrheim and two new candidates for town council in just the last week. He identified road repairs and the downtown business district as two areas where they plan to focus.

For Wehrheim's part, he said he has the right experience for the job.

"And I have the dedication to roll up my sleeves and go to work," he added.

Supervisor Vecchio said he thinks he has performed well enough to win re-election, even without party backing. He noted the town's AAA bond rating and that there was no tax increase this year under his leadership.

A primary vote will take place on Sept. 12.

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