Manhasset-Lakeville Fire and Water District Commissioner Brian Morris is being challenged by resident Ahmed Shakir and write-in candidate Brian Kenny for his seat.
Morris is seeking re-election to a fifth term in Tuesday’s elections. He serves on the Board of Commissioners with Steven Flynn and Mark Sauvigne.
The Manhasset-Lakeville Water District serves approximately 45,000 customers who use 7.4 million gallons of water a day within the service area of 10.2 square miles, according to the water district’s website. Eighteen wells at 13 locations provide water to Manhasset and portions of Great Neck and North New Hyde Park.
The current commissioner is running on similar priorities and positions as in years past, which include updating district infrastructure to meet new state regulations and maintaining excellent service for district residents.
“Both the water and fire districts have aggressive capital improvement programs,” Morris said. “I think it’s an achievement and a testament to our commitment to maintain such a high level of service in both districts while staying under the New York state tax cap.”
Regarding the water district, Morris said emerging contaminants such as 1,4-dioxane, perflourooctanoic acid, and perflourooctanesulfonic acid are a focus and removing them remains a prominent issue. He also referred to new construction on the way.
“In the coming years, the district will be investing over $30 million on new purification plants. When I am re-elected I will continue to strive for excellence in both the water and fire districts while keeping rates and taxes as low as possible,” Morris said.
Challenger Ahmed Shakir said believes that the district can possibly be better served through more outreach and a bigger pool of candidates. The Manhasset Hills resident said his professional experience would serve well in efforts to be fiscally responsible.
“As a recipient, I see our taxes going up,” Shakir said in an interview with Blank Slate Media. “I want to help with water quality issues and budget planning.”
Shakir, before retiring, was until 2018 secretary of the Civil Service Technical Guild, which represents 7,600 engineers, architects, city planners, project managers and scientists.
Another prominent issue Shakir sees with the election is low turnout in the district, which he says should be improved for an organization that has a lot of influence over thousands of residents.
Write-in candidate Brian Kenny, 80, is a volunteer firefighter in the district and has cited concerns over manpower in the department as his reason to run. Kenny said that the issue is growing and the current board has not accurately assessed means to fix the problem.
“I love this Fire Department as much as anything,” Kenny said in an interview with Blank Slate Media. “The last thing I want to see is anything happen to it, or it not be the best it could be.”
If elected, Kenny said, he would seek to turn the department into a hybrid mix of paid firefighters and volunteers. Kenny said that keeping a small number of firefighters on staff reduces response times compared with when volunteers have to leave their homes. Also, Kenny said if a firefighter doesn’t live in the village or district, responses can be delayed.
“A few seconds, minutes can be the difference between life or death,” he said.
Voting for Manhasset-Lakeville Fire and Water District commissioner will take place at the Company No. 1, 3, 4 and 5 firehouses on Tuesday from noon to 9 p.m.