While there are no contests in the coming June 16 elections in Kings Point or Lake Success, the elections for mayor and two trustees in the Village of Great Neck are contested.
The Great Neck Record invited all candidates to send a headshot (in jpg form) and a Word attachment with their statements (300 to 350 words) to the Great Neck Record (firstname.lastname@example.org). Candidates were asked for a biography, information containing the candidate’s experience, why the candidate is running for office and what is considered a priority. No criticisms of other officials were to be included, per our longstanding policy for all local elections.
In the weeks to come, we will publish all such election materials that are submitted by the specified date.
As previously published, the Record accepted such candidate information for publication for contested elections until Wednesday, May 27 at noon.
The deadline for submisssion of Information from candidates in uncontested elections was Wednesday, June 3 at 5 p.m.
Following are the requested statements.
Candidates for Mayor
Pedram Bral, for mayor, The Voice of The Village Party
(Note: Pedram Bral is running for mayor. Rebecca Rosenblatt Gilliar, representing the Voice of The Village Party, wrote and submitted this statement. It has been edited so that it adheres to the Record’s previously stated election guidelines.)
Pedram Bral was born in Tehran, Iran. After the revolution, the prejudice and racism against Jews forced his parents to leave and seek asylum in the United States. His first goal as a teenage immigrant was to familiarize himself with American customs and to learn the English language. In college, not knowing what profession he wanted to pursue, he carried majors and minors in biology, physics and chemistry. He then attended medical school.
Hired by Maimonides Medical Center, he championed minimally invasive surgical procedures that were a new frontier in surgery for women. In 2006, he became one of the first 10 surgeons to pioneer robotic gynecological surgery in the Northeast. He created a hospital fellowship in this specialty. He has traveled and trained numerous surgeons on the East Coast in this technology since 2010.
Two years ago, at the urging of friends and family, Bral threw his cap into the mayoral race in the Village of Great Neck, in a last-minute write-in campaign assembled in a few days.
Now, in 2015, Bral is running for mayor because (he feels) it is time for the people of the village to have a voice and that it is time to protect private homes from becoming a minority in a village of apartment buildings.
As a physician, Pedram has proved himself a principled innovator. He believes so strongly in the need for change that he has scaled back to 15 work days a month into the future.
Ralph J. Kreitzman for mayor, incumbent, Better Government Party
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “progress” as “the process of improving or developing something over a period of time.” I am running for re-election, as your full-time mayor, to help the seeds of progress that I and our trustees have “planted” grow into mature, beneficial projects for our village.
The recently concluded rezoning of Middle Neck and Steamboat Roads was developed over years, with significant community and expert input. It recently received an award from Vision Long Island. It promises to revitalize our downtown, recapture industrial and commercial properties and add much needed workforce and other housing, without adversely affecting the predominately single-family nature of our beautiful village.
The newly rezoned AvalonBay project on East Shore Road already has removed the rusting oil tanks, truck storage and contaminated soil. This attractive rental project will provide 19 workforce housing units, $885,000 in community benefit funds and increased real estate taxes.
We are planning a new DPW facility and village hall at little or no cost to taxpayers.
Our Middle Neck Road pedestrian safety and traffic calming measures are before Nassau County for approval, and more are planned. A grant and community benefit funds will pay the cost.
The Nassau County drainage project, traffic light and repaving on Middle Neck Road did not happen by themselves. They were the product of years of coordinated effort.
Our sewer plant combination already has produced significant tax savings for our residents and has been acknowledged by Vision Long Island and the NYCOM with awards.
Some other accomplishments include the repaving of over 80 percent of our roads, always balanced budgets and the highest bond rating (S&P AAA).
In addition to my experience as a partner of a major international law firm, member of the Architectural Review Committee, chair of the Planning Board, trustee and deputy mayor, I have been privileged to serve as President of the NCVOA and GNVOA and I currently serve on the NCVOA and NYCOM executive boards.
There is much, much more to do and, as your full-time mayor, I would like your support so that I can continue to work hard for all of our residents.
Candidates for Trustee
Jeffrey L. Bass, incumbent, for trustee, Better Government Party
I am proud to be a candidate for re-election to the Great Neck Village Board of Trustees. During my tenure as trustee, I have and continue to serve as trustee liaison to the Village’s Board of Zoning Appeals, representative to the Manhasset Bay Protection Committee and trustee coordinator of the Village’s compliance with the state mandated “Municipal Separate Storm Water Sewer System” (MS4) reporting responsibilities. As village trustee I am also a member of the Great Neck Village Officials Association and the Nassau County Village Officials Association where I chair the Association’s MS4 Committee. My prior village experience includes membership on the board of zoning appeals (five years) and planning board (two years). I am also a member of the Nassau County Planning Commission.
I am running for re-election because I want to continue to work hard and in a caring fashion to protect the safety of our residents, while maintaining the quality of life we have come to enjoy. Just witness the number of streets that have been repaved in an annual and methodical fashion. Look at all of the trees that have been planted. All of this and much more while enjoying AAA Bond ratings. I am proud to be working with my colleagues on the Board in also planning for our future as evidenced by our award winning incentive zoning program.
Being a trustee is not for the inexperienced or unskilled. It requires a depth of knowledge and critical decision making capabilities. It is also far from being a part-time position. It requires many hours of dedication and commitment for which I have a proven track record.
I have deep business and government experience. I am published and frequently serve as a source for local and national business publications. I hold two graduate degrees in Urban Planning and Public Administration from Queens College and New York University. I am married to Phyllis. We have two children and two beautiful grand children.
As trustee, I take the stewardship of our Village very seriously. I wish to continue and ask for the honor of your vote
Mitchell B. Beckerman, incumbent, for trustee, Better Government Party
Many people ask me why I want to run again for trustees given the time it takes away from your family and business. My answer is I feel that a lot has been accomplished during my almost 14 years on the board. There are many challenges that, as a village, we are facing that my experience will help resolve.
Having 40 years experience in business, a BS in Accounting, an MBA in Finance and a CPA Certificate, I bring a great deal of financial management experience. Working with elected officials from the federal, state, county, town and local levels, I have forged many close working relationships that have been beneficial for our village. I am active in other community organizations in various capacities: commissioner and treasurer, Great Neck Senior Housing Authority; board Mmmber, Great Neck Chamber of Commerce; chairman, Crafts Fair Committee; executive board member and treasurer, Lake Success Jewish Center. These different experiences help me to enhance and improve the quality of life in our village.
I have brought fiscal awareness to our village by utilizing conservative budgetary practices that have provided our village with a fiscally responsible budget for the past 14 years. I helped create a five-year plan for improvement and replacement of our infrastructure. I have attended many state-run seminars to enhance my knowledge on numerous governmental issues that affect us locally. Establishing audit controls for the review of all village abstracts, invoices and vouchers are reviewed to ascertain that we have received the goods and services billed for and that they must be approved before any are paid. I am an advocate for maintaining the important balance between our residential life and working to renew the vibrancy of our Middle Neck Road business corridor.
Resolving resident issues is probably the most rewarding part of the job. The one-on-one contact with our residents and problem solving is most satisfying for me.
It has been an honor representing the village, and with your help, look forward to two more years.
Anne Mendelson, for trustee, Voice of the Village Party
(Note: Anne Mendelson is running for trustee of The Village of Great Neck. Rebecca Rosenblatt Gilliar, representing the Voice of The Village Party, wrote and submitted this statement. It has been edited so that it adheres to the Record’s previously stated election guidelines.)
Anne Mendelson studied applied mathematics and electrical engineering in college and graduate school. She first worked in the Long Island defense industry and spent a decade working in a financial software development firm. In 2003, she studied for a teaching certificate, after which she taught math at Great Neck North High School. She loved working with students, but when her position was discontinued in 2013 she accepted an offer of work as a technical software product manager.
Having been born and raised on the Great Neck peninsula, Mendelson chose to settle in the Village of Great Neck to raise her family. She has enjoyed much of what Great Neck has to offer, particularly tree-lined streets to stroll down. She has also enjoyed what is absent from a village: crowded, congested city life amidst high-rise buildings. She has served as a board member of both Great Neck Synagogue and of its Sisterhood.
Mendelson is running for trustee of the village because she thinks the current officials pose an ever-escalating threat to our suburban life. She feels that the mayor and trustees have drastically altered the zoning laws in order to allow excessive and unwise development. The Village of Great Neck proposes to improve the business district by shrinking it. Their uninspired urbanization will literally undermine our community. It will burden our aquifers, which is the source of our drinking water, and clog our access roads.
She would like to see an end to the adversarial culture of indifference. She says we have a lot of work to do to restore confidence in our village government and we would like to begin by creating a position for an ombudsman. We need to make sure laws are applied consistently and transparently.
She also says we need to tackle the complex task so long ignored: to attract businesses to fill empty storefronts, as other communities do. She would begin by asking residents what shops are needed.
Ray Plakstis, Jr. for trustee, Voice of the Village Party
(Note: Ray Plakstis, Jr. is running for trustee of The Village of Great Neck. Rebecca Rosenblatt Gilliar, representing the Voice of The Village Party, written and submitted this statement. It has been edited so that it adheres to the Record’s previously stated election guidelines.)
Ray Plakstis, Jr. runs the businesses his grandfather founded in Great Neck 80 years ago. For three decades Plakstis has been a seasoned and knowledgeable responder to emergencies as a volunteer in the Alert Fire Department where he has served twice as chief.
He was instrumental in coordinating and leading teams of volunteers at Ground Zero from September 2001 to May 2002, in ground search and in logistics and communications.
His kindness and generosity are well known in the Old Village. He has often dedicated his time unseen and without credit to care for our community and promote our welfare.
On Sept. 22, 1996, after nine months of planning, he arranged to bring a Grumman surveillance airplane to Great Neck so volunteer fire companies could do emergency crash site drills and hone their readiness for the downing of a plane.
The plane came on two flatbeds, one from the Vigilants, one from the Alerts, with a police escort from Suffolk and Nassau counties. The plane rested overnight at the Alert Annex parking lot on Steamboat Road. The next day it was transported to Williston Park for the drills. This is one of the herculean tasks Ray has undertaken on behalf of our community.
His decision to run for trustee is a culmination of watching our elected officials, who have interjected their opinion. Under state law, the zoning board is supposed to be free of political influence.
Plakstis believes our elected officials have established a pattern of withholding information from residents. He particularly wants to reinstate term limits the current mayor discarded.
Ray Plakstis, Jr. knows our history and knows our citizens. “I oppose all the schemes that will rob our community of its very nature.”
Sam Yellis, for trustee, Bridge Party
I’m running for trustee of the Village of Great Neck because the character of the village is about to change drastically for the worse.
The rezoning of Steamboat and Middle Neck Roads will bring hundreds of new apartments and hundreds of cars. Our congested and dangerous roads can’t handle them. Try getting out of your own car on Middle Neck. Let’s calm the road: make it one lane in each direction between Wooleys Lane and Arrandale Avenue. Make the roads safer for pedestrian crossing. Put a fresh eye on attracting new business. Don’t bulldoze our hardworking neighbors at Academy Gardens and Millbrook Court out of their homes to be replaced by millionaires.
Next, bring in free electric shuttles for shoppers, from Beverly Road to the Merchant Marine Academy, every 15 minutes during the day. Get federal, state, county and town own grants to do it. Money’s available through the “complete streets” project. I know this takes work and cooperation. That’s what leaders do.
Next, make the Village Green a real destination. Bring in a farmers market to offer fresh foods and draw new shoppers for our merchants. Work with the Park District and School District to get students to play music at the gazebo, promote art festivals and foster events such as an Asian Fest, Persian Fest, Latin Fest and African-American Fest to celebrate our diversity. The village is great because of our diversity, not in spite of it.
Let’s build a bridge to the community, putting people and quality of life first. Make the village board use www.seeclickfix.com when citizens report potholes and housing violations. Post proposed new laws on the Internet and webcast village and zoning board meetings. I’ve already made the current board bring public comment first at meetings, not last!.Bring transparency to Village Hall.
I’ve taught our kids social studies at the Village School for 14 years and lived on Holleys Lane since 2002. I’d like to see the best for Great Neck.
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