Election 2023

Election Guide 2023: Meet the candidates for County Legislator

Election Day is Nov. 7. All this week, meet the candidates.

Responsibilities: The County Legislature sets county policies and enacts all local legislation; adopts all capital, operating and college budgets; authorizes the issuance of debt and sets fee schedules for certain county services. The winner of this race will represent the county’s 1st Legislative District.

Catherine A. Kent

Party: Democratic, Working Families

Hamlet: Baiting Hollow

Occupation: Former Riverhead Town Council member and retired Riverhead teacher

Ms. Kent grew up and raised her family on the East End. Her parents taught in local school districts, and her family was very active in their church and community. She attended Riverhead schools, and earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Central Methodist University and a master’s in liberal studies from SUNY Stony Brook. Upon graduation, she went into education and taught in Riverhead schools for 33 years. 

In 2018, Ms. Kent was elected to the Riverhead Town Board. She formed the Riverhead Downtown Revitalization Committee, hired more police officers and spearheaded the installation of surveillance cameras. 

Pitch: Ms. Kent will continue to champion families by advocating for responsible fiscal policies that hold the line on taxes and keep the cost of living low for all residents. She will  support law enforcement and first responders and take bold environmental action to address climate change. Ms. Kent is committed to safeguarding farmland and preserving open spaces, protecting  workers’ rights and reducing East End traffic by working with the MTA and other agencies to get more trains to the area.

In her words: “Throughout my years of public service, I have learned the importance of collaboration and inclusivity. My focus on engaging the community and bringing everyone to the table has been at the heart of my approach to effective governance.”

Catherine L. Stark

Party: Republican, Conservative

Hamlet: Riverhead

Occupation: Chief of staff/senior legislative aide

Ms. Stark is a lifelong Riverhead resident and a fifth-generation native of the 1st Legislative District. Her great-great-grandfather, John C. Stark, lived in Southold from 1840 until the 1860s, when he started a farm in Baiting Hollow. Ms. Stark has three children and two grandchildren. 

Ms. Stark volunteers with the Riverhead Lions Club and other community groups. Ms. Stark began working for Suffolk County in 1996, first for the Clerk of the Legislature and then for Penny Wells LaValle, director of real property tax services. For seven years, she served as chief of staff for former Suffolk County legislator Jay Schneiderman, who later became Southampton Town Supervisor. Since 2013 she has done the same for Leg. Al Krupski. 

Pitch: As Legislator Krupski’s chief of staff for the last decade, Ms. Stark focused on preserving the North Fork’s beauty and way of life. She helped the 1st District by writing legislation aimed at supporting the EPCAL walking trail, developed bus shelter protocols, accepted the County Climate Action Plan, improved wastewater treatment at Suffolk County parks and enacted a local law to expand public notification of sewage contamination. 

In her words: “I believe in a common sense way of governance. The willingness to reach across the aisle  for the betterment of our county. I will put my heart and soul into making Suffolk County a safer and more affordable place to live, not leave.”