County Republicans have turned their backs on 12-term Supervisor Patrick Vecchio, announcing on Monday that they will endorse Councilman Robert Creighton to unseat the man who has helmed Smithtown since 1978.
Creighton, a Republican who was re-elected to his seat on the town council in 2011, formally announced Monday night that he will face off against Vecchio in a primary on Sept. 10.
John Jay LaValle, chairman of Suffolk County's Republicans, hailed Creighton as "the exact kind of person you want to have at the top in Smithtown" with a new vision for the town.
"Listen, the reality is Pat Vecchio has done some great things in the Town of Smithtown but you have to be willing to move with the times," LaValle said.
LaValle blamed Vecchio's leadership for Smithtown Main Street's vacant storefronts while other townships, like Town of Huntington and Islip, have thriving business districts.
"It's not about age. You can be 137 years old as long as you are open for new thoughts, to innovation, to the next generation. That's what you have to be willing to do," LaValle said. "That's exactly what [Vecchio's] unwilling to do."
Smithtown Republican Chairman Bill Ellis said he's told Vecchio directly that he is behind the times.
"We have to move forward and Supervisor Vecchio has been here for 36 years. I have told him directly that he's operating in 2003, and worse yet, sometimes in 1993," Ellis said.
He even referred to Creighton, who is 75 years old, as the party's young and vigorous candidate.
Randy Altschuler, a prominent Republican who twice lost his bid to unseat U.S. Rep. Tim Bishop, was also on hand, hailing Creighton as the "next supervisor of Smithtown."
Creighton made clear he plans for run for supervisor as a team with Councilman Kevin Malloy and Town Clerk Vinny Puleo, who are both up for re-election this November.
"The town unfortunately is not being reasonable to the people trying to do business in this town. It is the 'Land of No.' It is the status quo, but the status quo must go," Creighton said.