Mayor Pedram Bral is easy victor in Great Neck

Mayor Pedram Bral is easy victor in Great Neck
Voters react to the results of Tuesday's election. (Photo by Janelle Clausen)

Mayor Pedram Bral easily defeated challenger Rebecca Gilliar on Tuesday in the Village of Great Neck, and two candidates on his ticket were re-elected as trustees.

Bral, 46, received 983 votes for mayor and Gilliar, 74, a community activist, got 505, a margin of nearly two to one.

Anne Mendelson and Steven Hope, from the Village Alliance Party, also retained their seats on the Board of Trustees. Mendelson earned 1,002 votes, while Hope got 1,003. Adam Harel, who ran with Gilliar for trustee and lost, had 481.

Mark Birnbaum, who ran unopposed for village justice, won with 437 votes.

The re-elected members of the Board of Trustees said that they hope to move beyond the election and continue being responsive to the community.

“I think the divisiveness and all the commentary that came out, I think we’re actually seeing beyond that and to move forward and work towards unity and work with people,” Mendelson said.

Mayor Pedram Bral speaks with voters in Village Hall after securing a victory against challenger Rebecca Gilliar. (Photo by Janelle Clausen)

Bral said the results indicated that many people were happy with the way the village was run and that he hopes to continue reducing the structural deficit, revitalizing business and running a transparent government.

But Bral also said he recognized there were divisions in the community that need to be addressed.

“I believe that we have a great community, we have a diverse community, and it’s my responsibility — and it’s also the responsibility of the community — to try to get together to create that unity we used to have and bring it back,” Bral said.

“I heard those people loud and clear and I understand there’s part of the community that has certain concerns,” Bral added, noting that people should come to Village Hall and “Meet the Mayor” meetings.

Gilliar campaigned on restoring transparency to village government, suggesting that too much business went on beyond the public eye and avoided necessary scrutiny. She said that the village board has not truly been transparent regarding contract discussions about the Vigilant Fire Company, which provides firefighting and EMS services, and real estate developers.

Rebecca Gilliar speaks with Oren Hakimian regarding the latter’s petition against leaf blowers in the village. (Photo by Janelle Clausen)

Bral had argued that casual meetings are less intimidating than voicing concerns at a public hearing, that no decisions are made there and that having “Meet the Mayor” events brings attention to local businesses.

Bral also said that negotiations with Vigilant secured a nighttime paramedic for the village and that he wanted to consider all options before making a decision.

Gilliar said that despite the results, she was “feeling great” after the election. She said her campaign raised important issues and brought many more people to vote.

“I think that an electorate should always be knowledgeable and vigilant, and it takes more than one person,” Gilliar said. “Without my opposition, 100 people would’ve shown up to vote, and we would be none the wiser.”

“This was not a clash of two egos. I didn’t have any ego investment in this situation. I was running because there were things about the way democratic governments function that I believe are not happening,” Gilliar added.

Gilliar led an under-the-radar write-in campaign in 2013 that nearly unseated then-Mayor Ralph Kreitzman. She ultimately ran the 2015 campaign that saw Mayor Bral and Trustees Mendelson and Ray Plakstis elected to office.

Plakstis resigned earlier this year due to health issues. The Board of Trustees appointed Hope, then a member of the Planning Board, to fill his seat.

Still, Bral’s victory raises questions on how united the village will be. In the days leading up to the election, supporters on both sides traded accusations of removing signs and spreading hate and misinformation.

In the end many voters like Diana Namdar, 69, said they wanted the negativity to end and for the community to unite.

“We all love the schools, we all love the community, we love everything about Great Neck,” Namdar said. “And we want everyone to be happy.”

Voters pass the time as they wait on one of two lines to cast their votes. (Photo by Janelle Clausen)

While over 1,000 voters came out over the nine-hour period, many expressed frustration about waiting times.  In the evening, the line stretched near the street at some points. Voters reported waiting well over an hour.

“This is a disaster,” one woman leaving the polling site remarked.

Joe Gill, the village clerk-treasurer, periodically called out that those who do not reside in the Village of Great Neck could not vote. However, he said, he saw 20 to 25 people from the unincorporated areas and other areas on line.

“It’s a result of the get-out-the-vote campaign,” Gill noted.

Gill also said that there were many slight differences found between names on the registered voter rolls and how some identified themselves, as well as registration issues. This resulted in complications for around 100 people and delays.

Lines sometimes stretched to the sidewalk at different points in the day. (Photo by Janelle Clausen)

About a quarter of them needed to file a petition with the Nassau County Supreme Court, with documentation and an explanation on how not being able to vote would disenfranchise them. The last petition finished processing around 10:44 p.m., nearly two hours after the polls closed. Most got to vote.

For Elana Soleimani, a concerned voter, that translated to a nearly two-and-a-half-hour wait between being on line and filing a petition. In the past, she said she’d never had to wait an hour to vote, let alone find herself denied.

Ultimately, Soleimani said, this seemed to affect certain groups of people more and such a tiring process was unfair.

“I also saw some people say they didn’t want to do the petition and walk out,” Soleimani said. “I saw at least four of those.”

In Lake Success, meanwhile, Trustees Lawrence W. Farkas, Gene Kaplan and David Milner were re-elected with 52, 52 and 43 votes, respectively.

Kings Point elections were also uncontested. Trustees Ron Horowitz and Hooshang Nematzadeh earned 105 and 113 votes respectively. Voters also re-elected Gary Granoff, the village justice.

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