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Munsey Park Election For Mayor

In the Village of Munsey Park two candidates are running for the position of mayor. Incumbent Harry Nicloaides is a member of the Village Party. He is being challenged by Frank DeMento a member of the Residents for a Better Munsey Park Party.

The Manhasset Press asked each candidate to provide a headshot, a short biography and to answer seven questions that would assist residents of the village in making their decision. The election will take place on Tuesday, March 19 from noon to 9 p.m. at the Munsey Park Village Hall, 1777  Northern Blvd. The candidates are listed alphabetically.         

–Pat Grace

Frank DeMento

 

I have lived on Trumbull Road in Munsey Park with my wife Maura since 2005. We have two daughters, Brigid age six and Erin age three. Brigid attends Munsey Park Elementary School and Erin attends Congregational Church of Manhasset Nursery School. Our family is active in St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church, Manhasset New Comer’s Club, AHRC Nassau, Munsey Park Women’s club and Manhasset Soccer Club. I am Vice President and Counsel at XL Reinsurance America and serve on of the Board of Directors for ROM Reinsurance Management Co., Inc. and the Association of Insurance and Reinsurance run-off companies. Ireceived a B.A. from Washington and Lee University and a J.D. from St. John’s University School of Law.

Harry Nicolaides

My wife, Marie, and I moved to Manhasset 27 years ago. We raised our two sons here.  Both graduated from the Manhasset schools and were active in scouting and crew. I am a member of the Archangel Michael Greek Orthodox Church and had the privilege along with a colleague of mine, to be the architect of our new facility in Port Washington. 

I am an architect and own my own firm, which is currently located in Port Washington. I hold a bachelor of science in architecture and a bachelor of architecture. I have been a licensed architect since 1980.  I have worked in most of the villages on the North Shore and many other towns in Nassau and Suffolk County. As an owner, I am fortunate to the have control over my work schedule.  This allows me the flexibility required to be a local mayor.  I feel my practice brings a unique perspective to the position as mayor, both because of the interaction I have with so many other municipalities and the knowledge of construction and planning. Owning and managing a practice for over 30 years has also given me the management skills to oversee the day – to - day operation of our village staff, crew, and consultants.

Questions for Candidates

Q1. What, in your opinion, is the function of a village mayor?

FDeM: As chairman of the board of trustees, a village mayor works with the board to set policy on issues that affect residents and ensures user friendly services and personalized assistance are provided to the residents who pay the village taxes. A village mayor must engage residents and village groups so that through contact with residents the mayor understands the concerns of residents. The mayor, the board and the employees of the village exist to serve the residents. That is what good government is all about, especially on the local or village level.

HN: I have often said that if I were to put a job description on my business card it would be “change manager.” In my 17 years as mayor, we have witnessed dramatic changes in technology, transportation (cars have swollen to the size of trucks), and family lifestyle. We also located cellular antenna arrays beneath stealth material in a church spire and LED lamps in all our street lights. The mayor’s function is to balance these and many other changes while maintaining fiscal responsibility that maintain our property values and the desirability of Munsey Park as a great place to live. 

My function also includes extensive interaction with other villages, as well as town, county, state and federal elected officials. I have regular meetings with our Emergency Management Organization (PWMOEM) and our Manhasset Mayors Group, and many others. These relationships were critical during our recent emergencies brought on by Irene and Sandy’s destruction. 

The mayor’s function is to coordinate the efforts of our village engineers, village attorney, village architect, village arborist in addition to the board of trustees and the representatives of the committees and commissions the village interacts with. We are members of the Manhasset Bay Protection Committee, PWMOEM, PAT/ Cable Commission, and the Nassau Village Officials Association. The mayor also oversees the provision of critical services including snow removal, garbage removal, and the maintenance of our sidewalks, roads, and parks.

Another important function of a mayor is to be a “talent scout recruiting volunteers to serve Munsey Park.  I have recruited new board and committee members from our younger residents. 

Q2. Can you attend the evening monthly meetings? Are you available for an emergency during the day if needed or in the middle of the night if necessary?

FDeM: Yes, I can attend the evening monthly meetings and attend any additional or emergency meetings that must be held for issues that arise between board meetings. Further, during the two weeks villagers were without power after Sandy, every resident was available during the day and in the middle of the night.  My neighbors and I checked on each other’s families and homes, and worked at each other’s homes, shared homes, chainsaws, generators, firewood, gasoline, food, hot water, etc.  No less should be required of our local government. The village mayor and the village trustees must be prepared and able to mobilize for emergencies.  The village must be prepared to suspend its normal processes, permits and fees during emergencies for storm damaged property and offer its assistance, equipment, and employees to those families whose homes and property were damaged during the storm, even in the middle of the night if necessary.

 HN: I attend multiple meetings each week to interact with the organizations I mentioned above.  I frequently communicate with our road crew through the night, during our storm management, and snow removal. They report in and don’t go home until I clear them.  The village staff and road crew are in from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. which require my daytime presence to meet with them and residents who have issues or concerns. We are in contact daily by phone and email as well.

I stay in touch with the agencies we work with as well as the adjacent villages, our emergency managers, the police, the town emergency managers, county officials, our state senator and county legislator. Through our last storm power restoration, I made twice daily visits to the LIPA sub station, met regularly with the Manhasset mayors, held twice daily conference calls with LIPA and the county,  and wrote nightly emails to our residents and posts on our website.

Q3. Have you served on any committees/ boards in your village? If so, which ones and for how long?

FDeM: I serve on the board of directors and have been the chairman of the board of directors of a private sector corporation. I also serve on the board of directors of an association of private sector corporations. In the private sector, the board of directors set policy designed to satisfy the stakeholders and the clients of the corporation. The stakeholders and clients of the village are its residents. I believe that I, and the trustees running with me for election, Patrick Hance and Sean Haggerty, can direct the Village of Munsey Park back toward providing village services in a manner that reflects the sensitivity and concerns of its residents. It is the bureaucracy created by a mayor that has held that position for 17 years and has handpicked his trustees that has allowed an adversarial culture between the village and its residents to manifest and has created a board that is out of touch with its residents.  Munsey Park residents expect more than what their current village board offers.

 HN:  I was recruited to the Building Advisory Committee in 1990.  I joined the board of trustees in 1993. I was appointed deputy mayor in 1995 and became mayor in 1996. I have been mayor for 17 years.

Q4. Have you attended a village board meeting? Do you regularly attend the board meetings?

FDeM: I have attended several village board meetings. Since moving into Munsey Park seven years ago, I have done extensive and necessary renovations to my home. These renovations have given me significant experience working with the village boards. As most residents do, I understand and appreciate the responsibility the board has to uphold the high standards of the community. However, interacting with the village should not be an adversarial process. 

HN: I have been regularly attending our board meetings as a trustee, deputy mayor and mayor for 20 years.

Q5. Why did you decide to run at this time? 

FDeM: Over the years I have been encouraged to run for Mayor of the Village of Munsey Park as my neighbors and I believe that the village has moved away from fulfilling the original intention of the residents that decided to incorporate in 1930. The original goal was to have a local form of government, a village board of trustees, consisting of residents, elected to represent residents and to conduct the village business in the best interest of all. Munsey Park basically provides the same services as the Town of North Hempstead provides for the residents in Manhasset and other parts of North Hempstead that are not incorporated. However, the residents of the incorporated village pay additional taxes for the privilege of having a local village government.  The decision to pay additional village taxes was made so that residents had the ability to set policy and to ensure friendly services and personalized assistance were provided to the residents who pay the village taxes. The board and the employees of the village exist to serve the residents. That is what good government is all about, especially on the local or village level. I, and the trustees running with me for election, decided to run at this time after speaking with our neighbors and realizing that many residents feel, as we do, that the village is no longer partnering with residents to improve their homes and neighborhood, but has become an impediment.

HN: I love Munsey Park and I am committed to seeing through the initiatives that my fellow trustees and I have begun with regard to our roads and emergency management program.  I am particularly proud of the new talent that I have recruited, and I am eager to nurturing the next generation of Munsey Park’s leadership.

Q6. If elected, what would you like to achieve? Change? Incumbent please state what you have achieved.

FDeM: If elected, along with Sean Haggerty and Patrick Hance, I would first and foremost like to achieve an overall change in relationship the village has with its residents. The board of trustees should serve the needs of its residents, therefore, we must restore a level of service and cooperation that goes hand in hand with the high standards of the village. Village Hall should become a place where residents gather to identify issues and exchange ideas to better our community. Not, a place avoided by most residents.

HN: I want to have a voice in the reform of LIPA and, as I mentioned above, see through our initiatives on our village’s infrastructure and emergency management.

 Q7. What, in your opinion, are the top agenda items for the coming year? 

FDeM: We need to update our policies, forms, and procedures so that no reasonable permit request is denied and make the policies, forms and procedures available to all residents on the village website.  This transparency as well as electronic communication would allow residents and the village to save time and money when conducting village business. We believe an appropriate policy for term limits must be put in place. We must do a thorough review of the budget and the procedures within Village Hall to seek out any savings opportunities that may exist and post the village financials on the website. We must explore alternative methods of generating revenue. We should support the great work many of the village groups do to make the village a great place to live and provide links to these Munsey Park groups on the village website. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we must reestablish standards of cooperation between the village and its residents required to meet the high level of service the village residents deserve.

HN: LIPA’s future, significant road projects, continuing to develop our emergency management programs, dealing with the state’s efforts to consolidate villages, completing our storm restoration, revisiting some of our local laws to keep them relevant to our residents needs, work with our community on Manhasset-wide issues, and listen, listen, listen.