Saddle Rock candidate challenges status quo

Saddle Rock candidate challenges status quo

Village of Saddle Rock resident Sasha Masri said he couldn’t help but act upon witnessing how his community’s board of trustees “populated itself” following the death of the village’s longtime mayor J. Leondard Samansky in July.

“I came to a conclusion,” Masri said, “that there was a need for new blood, for a new generation to run the village, rather than the old school.”

Masri, a certified public accountant with offices in Great Neck, has announced his intention to run for a position on Saddle Rock’s Board of Trustees in the village election on March 20.

“I can bring fiscal policy and fiscal responsibility to the village with new blood, younger-generation thinking outside the box and bringing our taxes lower and at the same time fixing the broken parts of the village,” Masri said.

Incumbent trustees Bob Steinberg and Avery Modlin will both be seeking another two-year term in the election, and Trustee David Schwartz is running to finish the one-year trustee term of current Saddle Rock Mayor Dan Levy.

Following Samansky’s death this summer, Levy was elevated to mayor and Schwartz was selected to replace him on the board.

Potential or returning candidates in all elections have until Tuesday, Feb. 14 to file an independent nominating petition in order to run for any village position.

Although Masri originally declared to Blank Slate Media last month that he would run for mayor, he said he has since reconsidered and will run for trustee.

“Different things happened and I realized, why don’t I become (a trustee),” Masri said. “Why don’t I go to public office and start making changes? It really started from my neighbors who told me to do it. So, I took it from there.”

Masri said that growing up he never really imagined running for public office, but always did maintain an interest in serving his community.

“What happened as I got older was I started helping my neighbors with whatever it was,” Masri said. “Helping them plow their driveways. Helping out my next door neighbor, he’s elderly, when he needed stuff because he’s a little immobile. It was hard from him to walk. Different things.”

After graduating from the Great Neck School District’s Village High School in 1998, Masri attended Nassau Community College and received a degree in computer information systems. He then attended the University of Advancing Technology in Tempe, AZ. and earned a bachelor’s degree in software engineering with an emphasis on network security and network administration.

Masri also attended Long Island University’s C.W. Post Campus where he received a bachelors degree in accounting.

“I’m a product of the Great Neck School District and so the way I learned was outside of the box, rather than in the box,” Masri said. “I went to different schools, colleges, throughout the years and now I am an accountant.”

Since 2004, Masri has worked as an accountant and currently serves as vice president of Masri & Masri Tax Services in Great Neck.

“What I do is I solve my clients’ problems on a daily basis in regards to finances and different things of the sort – structuring of their businesses, how to move forward,” Masri said.

And it is exactly that type of thinking, which Masri said could be extremely important for Saddle Rock.

“I think that’s what the village needs,” he said. “It needs more fiscal policy. It needs to find out how to make investments and get a return on those investments so you don’t have to raise taxes.”

“Finding new revenue sources without hurting the village,” he added, ” different things of the sort that professions in the medical field and in other fields just don’t think that way. It’s not part of their thing.”

If elected, Masri said he will begin his work with the board of trustees with a focus on one particular area.

“I want to take a look at this whole entire tax-revenue stream that’s coming in,” Masri said. “A lot of the residents are unhappy about it.”

Masri said he will also turn his attentions, if elected, to capital projects within the village.

“The village hasn’t been upgraded in decades,” he said. “The roads need rehabilitation. The lights are just inadequate at this point. We need energy-efficient lighting. Is it possible to go energy efficient for the village? Absolutely. Can we do some solar panels or something maybe if it’s cost effective? Absolutely.”

After perusing the village’s $1.1 million budget, which was approved last month, Masri is critical of what he said is a “$70,000” subcontract for snow removal.

“I think the village can buy a pick-up truck, hire someone for the same exact cost for one year and have that snow truck available for the next 10 or at least five,” Masri said. “Why are we paying $70,000 a year for snow removal? I think that’s outrageous.”

Aside from financial issues, Masri said he is also focused on providing more transparency with Saddle Rock’s village government.

“I think that it’s quite unfair, the way that the village attempts to notify the public of these meetings,” Masri said. “Putting in a letter in Newsday is far from hitting the Great Neck News and the Great Neck Record. Yes, everybody knows that the first Wednesday of every month there’s a board meeting, but I think I understand the people and they say ‘what’s the point of going if nobody listens anyway.'”

That message of transparency, Masri said also includes engaging younger village residents.

“Maybe we can send text messages to the residents to let them know what’s going on,” he said. “Let them know that there’s a road closed. Let them know that we want to change the road. Let them know that there’s a cellphone tower that’s about to go up that nobody knew about. Let’s let them know that we’re using our parks to put the sediment from Udall’s pond in it. Let’s see what they have to say about it.”

In the less than two months until the election, Masri said that his campaign will be focused on the idea of changing the way local government operates.

“There’s just multiple things that we can fix that are broken,” Masri said. “Even if it’s not broken, let’s break it. Let’s find a new solution. You can always find a better solution.”

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