All incumbents up for reelection for mayor, trustee and village judge in the Villages of Great Neck, Kings Point and Lake Success on Tuesday, June 20, were overwhelmingly reelected. Though the positions were uncontested in Kings Point and Lake Success, the Village of Great Neck race had opponents and the community antagonistically battling it out on social media.
Incumbent Mayor Pedram Bral of the Village Alliance Party, an ob/gyn at Maimonides Medical Center, received 983 votes for a second term for the two-year seat, while his opponent Rebecca Rosenblatt Gilliar, who was his campaign manager in the 2015 election, received 505.
For the two at-large trustee seats, Bral’s running mates Anne Mendelson and Steven Hope each won a two-year term. Mendelson was reelected with 1,002 votes and the recently appointed
Steven Hope, who is completing the term for Deputy Mayor Raymond Plakstis, Jr., a two-time Alert Fire Company chief, who as the result of being a 9/11 first responder, is battling stage IV stomach cancer, received 1,003 votes. Adam Harel, who ran on the Village Unity Party with Gilliar received 481.
Village Judge Mark Birnbaum ran unopposed on the Great Neck Greater Village Party for a four-year term and received 437 votes.
Though the polls closed at 9 p.m., votes were being counted until past 11:30 p.m. Some residents complained of lines that lasted longer than one-and-a-half hours, which caused some residents to turn around and leave without casting their vote. A village employee explained that there was a backlog of voters who thought they were registered, but were not on the voter roll that was submitted on June 10 for those who had registered with Nassau County by June 9.
Thirty-four voters, who were not on the voter roll, petitioned the Supreme Court for the right to vote in the election. They had to have their petitions notarized at Village Hall and faxed over. Voting wasn’t completed until 10:45 p.m. when the last two residents voted by order of the Supreme Court.
During the campaign, a great deal of animosity resulted from resident David Zielenziger’s correspondence to the Great Neck Record in favor of Gilliar and Harel that many viewed as anti-Semitic. Some Bral supporters thanked Zielenziger and called his letter, “The catalyst to wake up and stir passions of Great Neck’s Orthodox Jews.”
Personalities were attacked throughout the campaign. After a long, drawn-out night waiting for the results, community activist Gilliar, who’s candidate statement mentioned how she sent her children to an after-school program to learn Yiddish, was disturbed by an email she received.
“A picture of a young man’s page on the Internet was forwarded to me last evening after I returned home, after midnight,” she explained. “The young man is proudly wearing medical scrubs in the accompanying photographs, and this is what he wrote: ‘Please get out and vote for Mayor Bral!! His opponent is an anti-Semite, anti-gay, anti-Asian, racist politician who is power hungry!!’ This was Mayor Bral’s side in the debate of ideas,” said Gilliar, referring to the North Shore Action public forum last week for which Gilliar was the only candidate to attend.
Bral, Mendelson and Hope have not yet commented on their victories.
“I look forward, following today’s reelection of Mayor Bral and Trustee Mendelson and the election to trustee of Steven Hope, to working alongside all others interested in treating their neighbors and fellow Great Neckians with the utmost respect and human dignity regardless of whatever categories with which they may choose to identify,” one resident optimistically reflected. “This divisiveness has been an embarrassment to those who’ve promoted it.”
Two uncontested trustees, Ron Horowitz and Hooshang Nematzadeh, were reelected for two-year terms. Judge Gary C. Granoff won his uncontested four-year term. Horowitz received 105 votes, Nematzadeh received 113 and Granoff received 101.
Lawrence Farkas, Eugene Kaplan and David Milner were all reelected to the position of trustee for the Village of Lake Success. Farkas received 52 votes, Kaplan received 52 and Milner received 43. They will each serve two-year terms, which will expire in July 2019.