New Hyde Park, Floral Park head to polls March 21

New Hyde Park, Floral Park head to polls March 21
Village election voting for New Hyde Park and Floral Park will take place on Tuesday, March 21.(Photo courtesy of Flickr)

Voters in New Hyde Park have two unchallenged elections and Floral Park residents will cast their ballots in four uncontested races when both villages open their polls Tuesday March 21.

The ballot in New Hyde Park has incumbent Trustee Rainer Burger and newcomer Iram “Eve” Sheikh running for two-year terms. Sheikh is running for the seat currently held by Donna Squicciarino, a trustee since 2013, who is not seeking re-election. 

Both candidates are running on the New Hyde Park Unity Party line.

Burger, who was originally from Floral Park but has lived in the village for more than 30 years, works for AECOM Tishman, a construction and design firm. Before getting involved with construction consulting, Burger served in the U.S. Air Force and retired in 2020 with the rank of colonel.

He has also been involved in the community as a scoutmaster for Boy Scout Troop 298.

The trustee first joined the board in 2018 after being appointed following the death of Trustee Donald Barbieri. 

Sheikh has been a resident of the village since 1996 and is a pharmacy manager at Vitality. Her previous village experience includes serving on the cultural committee.

Floral Park’s ballot includes three incumbents — Mayor Kevin Fitzgerald, Deputy Mayor Lynn Pombonyo and Trustee Frank Chiara — running for two-year terms. Village Justice Douglas Hayden is also on the ballot running uncontested for a four-year term.

All candidates  are running on the Floral Park Citizens Party Line.

Fitzgerald, who has been a Floral Park resident since 1999, was first appointed to the village board in 2011 and was made deputy mayor in 2016 after James Rhatigan’s death. 

He is currently running for his second term as mayor after replacing Dominick Longobardi in 2021. 

Fitzgerald told Blank Slate Media that he believes the village has gotten a lot resolved when it comes to community issues over the last two years but more work is still to be done. 

“I think we have gotten to a place where they have been mitigated,” Fitzgerald, who is running for re-election this March, said. 

Specifically, Fitzgerald referred to different instances including the development at Belmont Park with the UBS Arena and the ongoing construction for the Third Track Project. 

The mayor believes the biggest upcoming challenge will be the housing plan proposed by Gov. Kathy Hochul earlier this year. 

Her proposal seeks to create 800,000 new housing units across the state in the next 10 years, with a special focus on Long Island, aiming for 38,218 new units built from 2023-2025.

Fitzgerald believes if instituted, the plan would be a “detriment to Floral Park and any village on Long Island.” 

He added that the village has built smartly, where local input was considered and the people in charge of the decisions were residents themselves, not bureaucrats in Albany.

“Whether it’s apartments across The Harrison or rebuilding Centennial Hall, we have an impact from the village itself,” Fitzgerald said.

Fitzgerald first got involved in village government as a member of the Third Track Task Force, fighting the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s plan for a third Long Island Rail Road track in the mid-2000s.

Pombonyo, who was first elected to the board in 2014, previously served as the superintendent for the Floral Park-Bellerose school district. She also holds a doctorate in educational leadership from Seton Hall University. 

She is currently the liaison to the village’s Fire Department, DPW, Hillcrest Civic Association, the Floral Park and Covert Avenue Chambers of Commerce and the Coalition of Resources for Education & Wellness Committee. 

Chiara, a chief detective investigator in the Bronx District Attorney’s Office for over 35 years, was elected to his first term as a trustee in 2017 and has been a Floral Park resident for more than two decades.

He is the liaison to the village’s Police Department, Building Department, West End Civic Association, Beautification Committee, New Resident Committee, Coalition of Resources for Education & Wellness Committee and the Conservation Advisory Council. 

Hayden, a lifelong village resident and former Nassau County assistant district attorney, has served as village justice since 1999. His father was former Mayor Thomas Hayden, who served the village in the top post from 1983 to 1987. Professionally, he works at Garden City-based Wright Insurance Group as president.

Voting for New Hyde Park will take place at Village Hall on 1420 Jericho Turnpike on March 21 from noon to 9 p.m. 

Voting for Floral Park will be on March 21 from noon to 9  p.m. and held at the Reliance Firehouse, recreation building the Atlantic Avenue Firehouse.

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