Veronica Lurvey goes from counsel to councilwoman

Veronica Lurvey goes from counsel to councilwoman
Veronica Lurvey said that if you told her six months ago she'd be sitting in Anna Kaplan's old Town Council seat, she'd be very "surprised." (Photo by Janelle Clausen)

As a child, Veronica Lurvey would always accompany her parents – who fled totalitarian Czechoslovakia in 1965 aboard a cargo ship – to the voting booth, helping pull down stubborn levers to cast a ballot.

Lurvey, who was born in Glen Cove, also distinctly recalled an exchange with her father, who was frustrated that trucks splashed muddy water against their VW Beetle as they drove around. Lurvey asked why there wasn’t a regulation. Her father said there was. She then asked why it wasn’t enforced – to which he said to write a letter.

“I think on some level I’ve always known how important it is to be involved,” Lurvey said in an interview Monday, “how important it is to a democracy for people to step up and do what’s right.”

Now Lurvey, a Kensington resident, is the newest North Hempstead councilwoman for District 4, a territory that stretches from the tip of Kings Point to the eastern edge of Roslyn.

She officially took her seat on Jan. 29, succeeding Anna Kaplan, who was elected to the state Senate, and will face her own election in November.

Prior to being in public service, Lurvey worked at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP from 1994 to 2012 as a lawyer.

In that capacity, Lurvey said it involved the management of large energy and infrastructure projects, an array of “day-to-day changes,” and a rush to “get out 20 different packages reflecting the negotiations” between parties in various projects.

“I still had partners, nominally overseeing my work, but I was pretty much running deals and negotiating,” Lurvey said of the last few years of her work as counsel, which required high levels of collaboration. “In project finance, one of the reasons why I really like it is it’s not litigation, it’s not a zero-sum game.”

Lurvey said toward the end, she tried to make arrangements to spend more time with her two sons. But “each [arrangement] took me away from family way too much,” she said.

“My kids were getting older and my mother who was providing some of the childcare was also getting older,” Lurvey said. “And I felt like as they get older, you need to spend more time with them, and I was really missing them.”

Her sons were 10 and 8 years old when Lurvey decided to leave the practice. Today, they are 16 and 14 years old.

Lurey also served on the Parent Teacher Association of the Solomon Schecter School of Queens and was elected its co-president as she was about to leave Skadden.

“It was almost my way of forcing the issue, forcing the move out of Skadden, because I knew that being a good PTA president would require a lot more time than I could give and I really wanted to be involved in the boys’ schooling,” Lurvey said. “It was really fulfilling.”

“Often PTA doesn’t make it onto a resume,” Lurvey also said of her role. “I find that having roots in the school and working within the school, even that constituency, all the different parents, gives you a lot of different skills which you can then apply in other places such as here.”

Lurvey said she and her family decided to move to Great Neck in 2012 because of everything it has to offer, such as “fantastic schools” and the parks.

But ironically, Lurvey said, the boys have not gone to the public schools. Her older son said his “Jewish education is not complete yet,” so they decided to enroll him in the Solomon Schechter School of Long Island in Williston Park.

Lurvey began volunteering in various capacities at Temple Israel of Great Neck before joining committees. This soon led to chairing committees, before she was elected vice president of programming for the temple more than two years ago.

Lurvey said she intends to serve out her term, which ends in June.

Lurvey had also helped found North Shore Action, a community action group, in early 2017 and served as its co-president. The organization has organized rallies against gun violence, hosted community forums, and worked on issues like pedestrian safety and the environment.

“I am working with North Shore Action, but I have, after a lot of serious thinking about it, decided to step down as co-president,” Lurvey said.

“It was not an easy decision to make,” Lurvey added. “I think that my involvement with North Shore Action and organizations like this will put me in closer touch with some of the concerns that the residents have, so I think that it will be a benefit.”

She said there are ongoing issues like replacing trees lost in Manhasset Valley Park and Whitney Pond Park due to Superstorm Sandy, problems with commuter parking lots and managing capital projects.

“Just because there’s been a change in who represents District 4, this shouldn’t mean that these projects don’t get finished,” Lurvey said. “They need to continue.”

Lurvey also said the town has received a grant to update the 1999 Water Quality Improvement Plan for Manhasset Bay.

“So I’ll be working with the Manhasset Bay Protection Committee to help identify major pollution sources and to develop recommendations and ways to manage pollution,” Lurvey said.

Lurvey said it has been “quite a whirlwind” adjusting to the new position.

Her office is still relatively bare bones, too – but she does have a piece of paper from a recent environmental community meeting, hosted by Temple Beth-El Rabbi Tara Feldman. It has one Hebrew word on it: tikvah.

“It means hope and that’s the name I chose for myself when I converted to Judaism about 17 years ago,” Lurvey said. “And Rabbi Feldman was saying that the tikvah has a letter here, which I believe was a kaf, and it has a line that she was explaining was a connecting line and hope connects us all.”

“So I thought that was a very nice thing to put up in my office,” Lurvey said. “I have a lot more decorating to do.”

There will be a swearing-in ceremony for Lurvey on Thursday, Feb. 28, at Town Hall in Manhasset at 5 p.m.

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