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Kensington Mayor Election Contested

(Editor’s Note: The Great Neck Record requested very specific information from each candidate: a short biography and the answers to three questions (expertise or experience, reason for running, top issue to be addressed). We received a variety of responses. Although we are strict with the 500 to 600-word limit, we are publishing the responses in the form as received. The election is Tuesday, March 16. Incumbent Kensington Mayor Susan Lopatkin is being challenged by Gloria Markfield.)

Susan Lopatkin

Susan Lopatkin is running for re-election to her second term as mayor of Kensington. In just two years she has completed many projects; most importantly, these improvements occurred without increases in the tax rate in each of the two budget years she was responsible for. She considers this to be her most noteworthy achievement.

Her village experience prior to serving as mayor was extensive. She had been on the board of trustees for several years as pool commissioner and deputy mayor, and was a member and also chairperson of the zoning board of appeals. She therefore understands the workings of the village from multiple perspectives, which serves her well as mayor.

Mayor Lopatkin has been active outside of Kensington in many capacities. She serves on the sewer advisory board created by the town supervisor to oversee the GNWPCD sewer upgrade project, and she was elected treasurer of the Great Neck Village Officials Association. In addition, she is also on the board of directors of the Water Authority of Great Neck North.

Mayor Lopatkin states that she is running for re-election because there is still much work to be done. She intends to aggressively manage the budget to keep taxes as low as possible, and to secure grants where available. Since the bulk of the pool renovation has been completed, she plans to turn her attention back to continued tree planting and beautification as well as road maintenance issues. Additionally, she has formed a task force to review existing building department forms and practices to upgrade procedures and incorporate technology where feasible.

Mayor Lopatkin’s experience is extensive. She has both CPA and CFP certifications and is extremely versatile in all financial and business matters. Additionally, she brings negotiating, multi-tasking, management and team building skills to the table. She is currently the principal in her own firm, Comprehensive Financial Strategies. And, she chairs her synagogue’s finance committee with responsibility to oversee and manage the synagogue budget. 

In her first term as mayor, Susan Lopatkin first focused her efforts on upgrading the office technology with a local area network, an updated village website and creation of an email notice distribution system. She organized a gala event to commemorate the village centennial: one that did not use any village budget money due to her fundraising efforts that amassed over $20,000 to defray costs. Under her leadership, the pool facility was updated with brand new bathrooms, and other building modifications. She was able to secure grants to construct an office in the village hall for village court, and another to create a low maintenance landscaped path on the green called the Centennial Walkway. One more grant is in process to reconstruct Bridle Path, a problem which remained unresolved for the last 10 years. She has negotiated new agreements with vendors and also secured a 40 percent savings in contracted public works costs.

Mayor Lopatkin believes that the single biggest issue facing the village in the upcoming years is the challenge of maintaining police, public works and other services that residents are accustomed to, while keeping a tight rein on the budget and therefore the property taxes. She believes that with her strong financial background, she is uniquely qualified to do this. 

Susan Lopatkin has been a resident of Kensington for 16 years and is married to Robert, who is an orthodontist in private practice in Astoria, Queens. They are the parents of two college-aged daughters, one of whom is considering a career in politics and government, having been inspired by her mother. 

Gloria Markfield

Gloria Markfield presented the following biographical information: Goucher College, A.B.; Queens College, M.S. Ed., with honors; married to A. Lewis Markfield, with two married children and three grandchildren.
Ms. Markfield’s professional life includes: vice president, Lehman Commercial Paper Incorporated; vice president and treasurer, Revlon, Inc.; executive vice president and chief operating officer, Catalyst, Inc.
Ms. Markfield’s community services include: trustee and deputy mayor, Village of Kensington, two terms;
Board of Directors, Great Neck North Water Authority, 2 terms Great Neck Public Schools, Adult Education Program Board of Advisors; board member, Kensington Civic Organization; president, Child Find of America; president, Open Door Parent Child Caring Center; and chair, Graduate Management Institute, Union College.

Answers to Questions:
“My professional life as a financial executive and operating officer of large organizations reflects some of my strengths. My many community activities reflect my awareness of issues that qualify me to serve as the mayor of the Village of Kensington. I strongly support the local system of government under which we have flourished in the past and believe I can provide leadership and direction to our board of trustees by representing Kensington on the Great Neck peninsula, in the Town of North Hempstead, in Nassau County, and in New York State.
“Like many municipalities of all sizes we are faced with significant financial issues which create divisiveness within the community.  Communicating our need to repair, reseal, and/or replace street surfaces, potholes, sidewalks, and sewer drains are pressing problems because we have a population that walks or runs for exercise, pushes strollers, walks pets, walks to school bus stops and otherwise enjoys Kensington in safety.
“I would propose that we pay for these necessary repairs by using the funds presently being suggested as salary for the mayor, by using the funds we presently have allocated for this purpose and by writing for grant money, which the Town of North Hempstead has suggested we do. Furthermore, I would ask residents and our police to contribute suggestions to improve the physical well-being and safety of Kensington.”
Ms. Markfield would also like to see: separation of the offices of police commissioner and mayor with a distribution of power and responsibility; a program to humanely catch the feral cats that plague us and have them spayed/neutered; a grant-writing program to help us maintain the distinguishing and wonderful character of the Village of Kensington; a need to keep our village residents informed as to the issues we are going to confront, as well as the need for clarification of the responsibilities of the village and the residents as these have changed.
Ms. Markfield also said that in the past: “I supervised the planting of 183 trees and the repair of broken sidewalks. These trees are now growing and healthy thereby providing delightful shade and a charming ambiance. The sidewalks however, need further repair as they continue to erode and are no longer safe to walk on at night because they continue to heave and are uneven. Potholes need repair and our streets need resealing or repaving.”