New GOP leader takes over amid special elections

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01/10/2013 11:13 AM |

TIM KELLY PHOTO | New Southold GOP chairman Peter McGreevy (left) is congratulated on his appointment by Riverhead GOP leader John Galla following Monday’s county Legislature debate at Martha Clara Vineyards.

He started off the new year with a special election for a county legislative seat, which could lead to a special Town Board election.

And in just a matter of weeks, he could also face a special state Assembly election and, on top of that, shoulder the responsibility for his party’s regular town elections in November.

Few political leaders have faced so much in their first days on the job as has Peter McGreevy of Mattituck, who in December succeeded Denis Noncarrow as chairman of the Southold Republican Committee.

The GOP knew it would have its hands full in challenging popular Democratic Councilman Al Krupski, whose four-year term is up this year. But Mr. McGreevy couldn’t have imagined having to gear up the party in an effort to defeat the councilman, who is running against Riverhead Republican Supervisor Sean Walter in the Jan. 15 special election.

The seat became open when veteran GOP legislator Ed Romaine was elected Brookhaven Town supervisor in November.

“My number one goal is to go all-out for Sean,” said Mr. McGreevy, a partner in a Riverhead law firm. “Then, on Jan. 16, I’ll start thinking about the town elections.”

Despite the bipartisan nature of the current Town Board and how many in his party admire and respect Mr. Krupski, one of only two elected Democrats in town government, Mr. McGreevy said he feels no reluctance in supporting Mr. Walter.

“Al is popular,” he said, “but he’s on the other side. It’s the job of the Southold GOP to make sure Sean Walter gets as many votes as possible. It’s nothing personal, it’s just the reality of the system.”

After watching the Walter-Krupski debate at Martha Clara Vineyards Monday night, Mr. McGreevy said he’s convinced Mr. Walter has a better understanding of the rough and tumble politics of county-level government.

“I was surprised Al chose to run,” he said. “He’s for Southold and I figured he’d stay here.”

Before attending Auburn University Law School in Alabama, Mr, McGreevy earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in political science from that school.

“I’ve always enjoyed the political process,” he said. “The people, how it’s done and the results you can get are interesting to me. They say all politics is local and Southold is about as local as you can get.”

He said he comes from a politically active family. His mother, Doris, is a former chairperson of the Mattituck Parks District board and he is former chairman of Southold Town’s ethics committee. He’s been a GOP committeeman for the past five years.

“It may sound corny, but I believe in quality of life issues and think this is the best place for me to contribute,” he said.

Should Mr, Krupski lose next week, the GOP might still face the daunting task of trying to end his 28 years in elected office in Southold. Should he win, however, Mr. McGreevy believes the Town Board should appoint a replacement rather than leaving the seat vacant until the November elections.

“It’s too long a time to leave the seat open,” he said.

There’s a special election in March for Brookhaven highway superintendent and those results could further alter the local political landscape. Republican Assemblyman Dan Losquadro is seeking to make the jump to town office and if he succeeds there could be special election to fill his Assembly seat.

Then there are the upcoming town elections, which should be less of a challenge for Mr. McGreevy in that Mr. Krupski is the only non-Republican incumbent facing re-election.

“Based on recent election results, the people of Southold like what we’re offering,” he said. “Not only do I want to continue that, I want to expand upon it.”

Mr. McGreevy jokingly said his neighborhood has become the epicenter of local political power.

“I live just around the corner from [town Democratic Chairman] Art Tillman,” he said. “We’ll have no problem communicating.”

He spoke highly of his Democratic counterpart, saying he admires Mr. Tillman’s passion for his party and its principles.

“It’s good to have believers,” he said. “It makes it more interesting that way.”

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