With the district lines redrawn this year, the North Shore of Nassau County is now a part of State Senate District 7, a district currently held by Anna Kaplan of North Hempstead. Kaplan will be running for reelection in the Democratic Primary on August 23.
Kaplan was born in Tabri, Iran in 1965 to Jewish parents, and was raised in Tehran, the country’s capital for 13 years before fleeing the country due to the threat of the Islamic Revolution. She spent several years in Brooklyn, Chicago and Queens until her family settled in Great Neck.
Kaplan studied to be an attorney, attending Stern College at Yeshiva University in New York, and later received her J.D. from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, also a part of Yeshiva. After working as a lawyer for several years, she married her husband Darren in 1995, and the couple made the move to North Hempstead, where they raised their two daughters.
Kaplan first got involved in community service when she was encouraged to run as a trustee for the Great Neck Public Library in 2005. She said initially apprehensive, she said, but her husband encouraged her to go for it.
“My husband, who is an Ashkenazi Jew and not from the Persian Tribe, said to me ‘We come to this country, we’re all immigrants,’” Kaplan said. “He said, ‘We achieve great goals and then we give back,’ and he really worked very hard to make sure I got on board and ran for library board.”
Kaplan spent four years as a library trustee before being selected for the North Hempstead Board of Zoning and Appeals in 2009, a position she held for roughly two years. Her first major political race occurred in 2011, when she ran for a seat on the North Hempstead Town Council, which she won. She was reelected in 2015 with 67 percent of the vote.
Then in 2018, Kaplan decided to run for New York State Senate District 7, which at the time did not include the North Shore. Kaplan highlighted reproductive rights and a need for stronger gun control laws as her primary reasons for running, especially following a meeting with students from Great Neck who were protesting gun laws following the Parkland massacre earlier that year.
“They were scared of going to school and while they were at school, they were worried that while they were at school someone was going to walk in with an AR-15 and just start shooting them for no reason,” Kaplan said. “We live in the greatest democracy on earth, with all the freedoms we have in this country, and for our children to be fearful of going to school or going to the mall or going to a movie, it really just broke my heart.”
Since winning her seat in the state Senate, and after winning reelection in 2020, Kaplan has made gun control and reproductive rights two of her main priorities in state legislation. During her first three weeks in office, she helped pass a voting rights law, the New York Reproductive Health Act which codified Roe vs. Wade in the state, and a series of 10 “sensible” gun laws.
Her most recent gun bill is the Scott J. Beigel Unfinished Receiver Act, which seeks to clamp down on the sale of “ghost guns” in New York state, and which was signed into law by Gov. Kathy Hochul on October 28, 2021.
“Ghost guns” do not have serial numbers and are untraceable firearms that can be bought online without a background check and assembled at home.
In the weeks following the controversial decision by the United States Supreme Court to overturn Roe vs. Wade, Kaplan has also sought to ensure New York remains a safe haven for women across the country to receive access to reproductive healthcare. highlighted her efforts to make New York accessible for out-of-state women to seek abortions.
“After Roe was overturned, Senator Kaplan wrote the law that protects medical providers who provide abortions to women from out of state,” Kaplan’s director of communications, Sean Ross Collins, said. “So, when we talk about how New York is a safe haven state for people seeking reproductive healthcare, that’s thanks very much to the law she just wrote.”
Kaplan has been encouraging residents to get out and vote in the Democratic primary on Aug. 23, and although she is new to 40 percent of the new 7th District, she hopes her constituents will look carefully at what she has done in the past before making their decision.
“Please get to know who is trying to get your vote, what they stand for and their track record, so you can hold them responsible and accountable,” Kaplan said. “And if anyone has any questions for me, I’m only an email or phone call away. I’m happy to hear anyone and answer any questions.”