George Maragos, a Democrat vying to replace Glen Cove’s Republican mayor, Pamela Panzenbeck, on Nov. 7, is an immigrant who attained the American dream. He says he wants to use his background in finance to give back to his community.
A mayor must have a vision of what the economy should be, Maragos said, and how to better attract businesses that will create a vibrant economic environment. “One of the jobs of the mayor,” he said, “is to be the top salesman for the city,” and to attract businesses. And he would like to see another major grocery store in Glen Cove.
“I can make the city much better, “Maragos said. “I can improve the economy, I can improve the quality of life, fix our infrastructure, and do it cost-effectively. I have those skills that are lacking.”
Maragos’ family emigrated from Greece to Canada when he was young, and he spent his formative years in Canada. He earned a degree in electrical engineering from McGill University, in Montreal, in 1973.
When he began his career at Bell-Northern Research, Maragos was one of the company’s youngest managers. He researched electromagnetic theory in advanced and wireless telecommunications in its early stages of development. In 1978, he moved to New York to become an associate consultant at Booz Allen & Hamilton, an American government and military contractor, specializing in intelligence, and he eventually became an associate in charge of developing information technology solutions for multinational commercial clients.
In 1981, Maragos joined what was then Chase Manhattan Bank, as vice president of system banking operations, risk management and security. He implemented the first corporate global electronic-funds-transfer network, establishing market leadership and reducing processing costs. He managed strategic regional processing centers in London, Hong Kong and South America to support the bank’s global expansion.
Maragos earned an MBA in finance in 1983 from Pace University, and was later promoted to vice president at Chase. He became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1985.
From 1986 until 1989, Maragos was a vice president at Citicorp, where he oversaw the investment banking system. While there, he also served as telecommunications director for Citibank’s treasury systems.
In 1989, Maragos founded his own business, SDS Financial Technologies, and was its president and CEO for over 20 years, until he was elected Nassau County comptroller in 2009. He was the county’s 13th comptroller, and the first of Greek origin.
As comptroller, Maragos monitored the county budget and its financial operations, audited government agencies — and agencies with county contracts — in search of waste and abuse, and reviewed county contracts and claims. He reported on matters that affected Nassau’s financial health and operations, worked with the administration and the Legislature to help the county overcome its fiscal challenges, and oversaw the preparation of Nassau’s annual financial report and the administration of its payroll and employee health benefits.
In 2012, Maragos was an unsuccessful candidate for U.S. Senate, but was re-elected county comptroller in 2013. He is credited with reducing government spending by over 30 percent, and for reducing the long-term county debt by over $100 million.
In. 2016 Maragos and his wife, Angela, moved from Great Neck to Glen Cove, which George described as a “down-to-earth” community. That same year, he sought the Democratic nomination for county executive, but lost to Laura Curran.
Maragos is running for mayor because he has seen what he called a “steady erosion” of the city’s economy and its quality of life. He said he is concerned about Glen Cove’s empty storefronts and crumbling infrastructure, and increased bacteria levels at the city’s beaches caused by pollution.
If elected, he said, one of his first priorities would be to fix the city’s finances, which, according to his campaign website, are categorized by state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s office as “under stress.” He also wants to tackle the problems residents face with flooding and unpaved roads.