Town of North Hempstead Councilwoman Anna Kaplan announced her candidacy for the New York State Senate seat for District 7, one of the state’s most economically and ethnically diverse, which runs from Great Neck to Westbury and from Sands Point to Elmont, on Friday, April 27, at the “Yes We Can” Community Center in Westbury.
The seat is currently held by first-term Republican Elaine Phillips. If Kaplan were to win the election in November, the New York State Senate would likely be under Democratic control for the first time since 2011.
Kaplan joins Port Washington resident Brad Schwartz, an East Hills native and Roslyn High graduate, who declared his candidacy for the Democratic nomination in September 2017.
“As the North Hempstead Democratic town leader, I am so happy to have a candidate of Anna’s character, integrity and most importantly a women who has the right values to represent us here in the seventh district,” said John Ryan, Town of North Hempstead Democratic leader. “She has proven this to the community on many occasions with her votes during her time as councilwoman. She is the candidate who has earned the endorsement of many leaders because of her proven track record and true democratic values. Now is the time for the residents to have a voice, a true voice for them in the senate—that voice is Anna Kaplan’s.”
The rally began as Nassau County Democratic Party Chairman Jay Jacobs presented the opening remarks, followed by an enthusiastic speech by Governor Andrew Cuomo and a passionate announcement by Kaplan.
Among the political leaders who filled the room to show their support were Senator Mike Gianaris, Congressman Tom Suozzi, Nassau County Legislator Ellen Birnbaum, Assemblyman Anthony D’Urso, along with Town of North Hempstead Supervisor Judi Bosworth, Town Democratic Leader John Ryan, Council members Lee Seeman, Viviana Russell and Peter Zuckerman, Town Clerk Wayne Wink and Receiver of Taxes Charles Berman, among many others.
In his speech, Cuomo discussed the importance of increasing Democratic representation to change certain policies by the current administration, such as the new laws that will be double taxing New Yorkers, as well as the other states that were blue in the last presidential election.
“We are living in a time where the federal government is being dismantled on behalf of special interests and the powerless are being victimized by the powerful,” said Kaplan. “Luckily in New York, Governor Cuomo is leading the way and setting an example for the nation—from fighting the GOP tax bill which deliberately targets New Yorkers, to free college tuition for middle class families and passing the strongest gun laws in the country. I am grateful for the governor’s support, and look forward to continuing the fight to improve the lives of all New Yorkers.”
Kaplan has been an advocate of bringing all the different groups in North Hempstead together and responding to hate and prejudice with strength and unity. She has done so with a simple message—everyone matters, everyone is deserving of respect and everyone should have a voice in how they’re governed. She calls this effort “All of Us Together.”
Her platform includes passage of several legislative measures that passed in the New York State Assembly, but which were denied a vote in the Republican-controlled Senate. Chief among these is a law that would authorize a court to issue an Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO), which would prohibit people found to be dangerous to themselves or others from purchasing or possessing a firearm, extending the statute of limitations for child victims of sexual abuse to bring claims against their abusers, campaign finance reforms including ending New York’s “LLC loophole” that allows unlimited cash to be funneled into political campaigns and advancing women’s reproductive rights including codifying Roe v. Wade into state law.
Kaplan was elected as councilwoman in November 2011 in the Town of North Hempstead, the fifth-largest town in the United States with a population of more than 220,000 residents. She represents the more than 40,000 residents in the town’s Fourth District, which includes the villages of Great Neck, Great Neck Gardens, Kensington, Kings Point, Thomaston, Roslyn, Roslyn Estates, North Hills and the unincorporated areas of Great Neck and Manhasset.
Currently serving her second term, following a contested election in which she received more than 67 percent of the vote, Kaplan is one of only two Iranian Americans serving in elected office in New York above the village level.
In 2016, Kaplan entered the Democratic Primary in New York’s Third Congressional District, hoping to become the first Iranian-American to serve in the United States Congress. While she did not win the race, her dramatic life story captured the attention of the national media.
Following her historic election as the first-ever Iranian American elected to town office in New York, she was profiled by Lifetime Networks as part of their “Remarkable Women” Campaign and was spotlighted in Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s “Off the Sidelines” call to action for women to make their voices heard.
Kaplan was born Anna Monahemi in northern Iran and was raised in Tehran. When the Islamic Revolution took place in 1979, she was sent to the United States alone at age 13, as part of an international effort to help the Jewish children of Iran leave the country. She was eventually sent to live with a foster family in Chicago, where she attended high school and learned to speak English while waiting for her family to join her in the U.S.
After reuniting with her family, Kaplan moved to Forest Hills and then Great Neck. She graduated from Stern College for Women at Yeshiva University and received a JD from Benjamin Cardozo School of Law.
Kaplan, who is fluent in Farsi and Aramaic, became a citizen in 1995. She resides with her husband, Darren, in the Village of Kensington, where the couple raised their two adult daughters.