The Jewish-Iranian immigrant will be the new state senator in the 7th District
Democrat Anna M. Kaplan beat Republican Elaine R. Phillips in the race for state senator in the Seventh District with 54.65 percent of the votes on Tuesday, Nov. 6. Kaplan, a Town of North Hempstead councilwoman, received 58,273 votes, while the incumbent Phillips received just 48,342.
“Today, voters braved the rain and came out across the North Shore of Long Island and I’m honored that they chose me, a Jewish refugee from Iran, to be their next state senator,” beamed Kaplan at the Garden City Hotel, where Democrats gathered on Election Day to watch the results as the polls closed. “I want to thank my husband, Darren, and family for their unwavering support throughout this campaign. None of this would have been possible without the grueling work of my staff and hundreds of volunteers who made this historic victory possible. I also want to commend Senator Phillips for a spirited race and for her service.”
Born Anna Monahemi to a Jewish family in Tabriz, Iran, Kaplan was just 13 years old when the Islamic Revolution swept her country. Her parents made the heart-wrenching decision to send their daughter to the United States, along with 39 other Iranian children, as part of an international effort to save the country’s Jewish youth.
Upon arriving in America, Kaplan lived with a foster family in Chicago, where she learned to speak English and completed high school. More than a year later, her parents legally entered the U.S. and her family was reunited. They moved to Queens, and Kaplan later graduated from Yeshiva University’s Stern College for Women and Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.
“It’s the most American of stories, but the story’s beginning as a frightened, powerless minority animates everything I do,” said Kaplan. “My undying gratitude to this great country for taking me in during my most desperate hour is what compels me to public service.”
Kaplan married and settled in Great Neck, where she and her husband raised two daughters. She was active in the public schools and the community. The senator-elect was asked to run for the Great Neck Library Board, won and served a four-year term. During her third year, she was also appointed to the Town of North Hempstead Board of Zoning Appeals.
In 2011, she was elected Town of North Hempstead councilwoman for the Fourth District. Four years later, she was reelected to a second term with 68 percent of the vote.
“I have been so blessed by this wonderful country,” noted Kaplan. “I’m in this to make things better.”
Kaplan’s decision to run for New York State Senate stems from her “journey from fear and persecution to a place of safety and freedom.”
Throughout her two terms as councilwoman, she has pursued a vision she calls “All of Us Together.” Her goal was “bringing all the diverse groups in North Hempstead together and responding to the hate and prejudice that has swept this country with strength and unity. I do that with a simple message,” she explained. “Everyone matters, everyone should be treated with respect and everyone should have a voice in how they’re governed. That’s All of Us Together.”
As state senator, Kaplan’s mission is much the same, “to bring all the different groups in this diverse district together and to respond to the hate and prejudice that has swept this country with strength and unity” and plans to address residents’ concerns about maintaining the local tax cap, enacting stronger gun laws and protecting our water and air.
“We now have an important responsibility to protect Long Island taxpayers, protect women’s reproductive health rights and do more to end the scourge of gun violence,” noted Kaplan. “I look forward to the opportunity to get to work for all Long Islanders and New Yorkers.”