Sea Cliff residents will soon vote to elect a mayor and two trustees to the village board in an election on March 19. This year three candidates from the Civic Progress party will run in an uncontested race.
Edward Lieberman will seek a second mayoral term and incumbent Dina Epstein will vie for one of the two trustee seats. Resident Elena Villafane, who served on the board between 2003 and 2008 and 2014 and 2016, joins the trustee race agaain this year. Trustee Deborah McDermott, who is up for reelection, will not seek a second term.
The Herald Gazette had a chance to sit and speak with the Civic Progress candidates during the party’s caucus rally on March 3, where they discussed their reasons for running for reelection, their major accomplishments as village representatives and what they plan to do in the new term.
Herald Gazette: Why have you decided to run for re-election?
Edward Lieberman: We have an invigorated Youth Activities Board, we have connections to CASA (Coalition Against Substance Abuse) and we’ve addressed issues pertaining to the environment and traffic and safety. Part of that achievement is bringing all facets of village life together to address and find solutions to our commonality, and to listen to our residents. I want to run again to continue this quest of continuing to make Sea Cliff the gem of the North Shore.
Dina Epstein: We have a lot challenges ahead of us. We have traffic concerns, and of course we’ve done some really nice environmental work, and I think there’s still more that can be done, and I’m happy to be able to step up and be able to do it.
Elena Villafane: As a believer in the true value of community service I felt it was incumbent upon me to step up again. I admire the work that the current board has undertaken over the last number of years, and I really felt that I could be of value and of service to my community. I am incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to live in a community like Sea Cliff, and it is my obligation to pay it back by serving.
Herald Gazette: What was your greatest accomplishment during your past/last tenure on the Village Board of Trustees?
Lieberman: My greatest accomplishment was entrusting the environmental concerns of Sea Cliff to Trustee Epstein and the Environmental Conservation Commission, which we reconfigured into a working unit to promote our mutual agenda of a [healthier] environment.
Epstein: [Passing] the plastic carry out bag law, which really paved the way for the anti-Styrofoam, plastic cutlery and straw law.
Villafane: The revitalization of the village garage, the completion of the boardwalk and the new parking lot down at the beach and the erection of the gazebo [on Cliff Way]. All of those capital projects happened during [my] first five years [as] a trustee at a time when the village was facing significant stresses from outside litigation. I believe that my education as an attorney and my experience in running my own business were an integral part of making all those things come together at a difficult time in the village’s history.
Herald Gazette: What will be your main priority in the new term, and how do you plan to accomplish that goal?
Lieberman: We really want to have that Youth Activities Board come to fruition. There are discussions about a possible community center, there’s discussions of ongoing issues with American Water, not only with our article 78 proceeding but any negotiations and possible resolutions, [and we’re] continuing to examine the takeover of American Water by a public authority.
Epstein: I would like to continue along the path of environmental awareness, [start a] community fix-it fair, and I would also like to see composting come to the village in a more significant way. I’m also very interested in working with the traffic committee and with Nassau County to address some of the traffic concerns that are a problem now, and that are only going to be exacerbated when the additional housing comes to Glen Cove. We have a lot of great people in this community that we can tap [for] their talents, and as long as we know who to look to and ask for help, I think we’re going to be in good shape.
Villafane: My first goal is making sure that I am up to speed on all of the issues facing the board at this time, [and] that I quickly learn where the board is experiencing challenges so that I can see if my skill set will be a plug-in for that. There’s a number of issues facing our residents, most notably the countywide reassessment, a number of large scale redevelopment projects in Glen Cove and the impact from the governor’s possible elimination of the AIM tax support. All of these factors are going to have a large financial impact on our residents, and I see a lot of these stressors impacting our older citizens who are on a limited income. As a village we are going to have to be very mindful of that fragile section of our community and do what we can to help maintain diversity in our community.
Herald Gazette: What would you like Sea Cliff voters to know about your candidacy/campaign?
Lieberman: We hope that we reach and touch each resident no matter what age group, if they’re recent, newcomers or have been here their whole lives. We want to make sure that everyone knows that we are always available; we’re always here to listen to what they have to say and to explore all the possibilities that are brought to our attention to make this village better. Without their participation, it doesn’t really mean anything.
Epstein: The board is really strong; it takes a lot of time, a lot of effort and it really examines issues. We’re working on [the residents’] behalf, and on a lot of things that they may not even see. I hope we’ve earned their confidence over these past few years, and that they trust us to carry on in the future in the same way.
Villafane: People have to know that I do this out of true love of my community, and I’ve always maintained a very visible, local presence because I feel that politics are local, and if you have a concern you should be able to reach out to someone in a relatively easy fashion to at least be heard. We may not be able to give you everything you want, but we’re here to at least try to listen to you, to make you feel heard and address what we can within the powers that we have as local elected officials.
The Sea Cliff Civic Association will host its annual “Meet the Candidates” night on Tuesday, March 12 in Village Hall at 300 Sea Cliff Ave. at 7 p.m. The annual election will be held on Tuesday, March 19 in the Recycling Center at 66 Altamont Ave. between 12 and 9 p.m. Absentee ballot and instructions are available at Village Hall or online at http://www.seacliff-ny.gov/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/2017-Absentee-Application.pdf.