In the midst of Malverne’s village election campaign, politics was put aside at the March 6 board meeting as attendees honored outgoing Mayor Patti Ann McDonald, who announced in January that she would not seek a fourth term. McDonald was moved to tears as she received flowers, citations, gifts and hugs from current and former town and local elected officials in recognition of her 12 years as mayor and over 20 years as a member of the village board.
McDonald recalled when she and her late husband, NYPD Detective Steven McDonald, moved to the village, shortly after he was shot in 1986 in Central Park, which left him paralyzed until his death nearly 31 years later, in January 2017, at age 59. She said that the village welcomed them.
“When we had to decide where were going to live, without hesitation, he said Malverne,” McDonald said. “To have the opportunity to give back to a village that gave us so much by serving as trustee, and now mayor, was something that I truly feel very humbled and honored to have done.”
McDonald’s career with the village board began in 1996, when she succeeded her father, John F. Norris, who died that year. Former Mayor Joseph Canzoneri, who served with her father, said that McDonald’s leadership qualities led to her success.
“You have met my challenges, and you have surpassed all of them,” Canzoneri said at the meeting. “I’ve had some rough times as mayor, as we all have, but whenever anyone came up here with a comment, a criticism, a complaint, whatever it was, you allowed them to speak and showed them complete dignity and respect with everyone that came before this board. That’s something that is very difficult to do at times. I just hope that your future meetings with the village board will be with a glass of wine as you turn on Channel 18 on the TV.”
Catherine Hunt, another former mayor, said that McDonald deserved to be commended for supporting her husband while raising their son, Conor.
“I know how hard this job is,” Hunt said. “I know that it really toughened you up and I know that you banged around left and right, but you made it for 12 years. That’s a pretty good go. The best is yet to come.”
Conor, who is now an NYPD sergeant, said he spent many days with his mother in Village Hall, and that he would never forget her efforts to serve the community.
“I have to say there might be some naysayers, and people think this and that about what my mother has done for the past 12 years,” Conor said. “But I know she woke up every day and she did everything she could to make this village as beautiful as it is, as safe as it is and as great as it is.”
During her tenure as mayor, McDonald helped the village attract over $1 million in federal and state grants and oversaw the construction of a headquarters for the Malverne Volunteer Ambulance Corps, renovations of the downtown area and the Long Island Rail Road stations, upgrades of village infrastructure and the expansion and modernization of Malverne’s parks.
Last year, Town Supervisor Laura Gillen honored McDonald with the Pathfinder of the Year Award, which recognizes women who enhanced the community through volunteer work, education and health services.
“She is the portrait of loyalty, she is the portrait of devotion, and she’s a fabulous wife and mother,” said Gillen, who proclaimed March 6 Patti Ann McDonald Day. “She’s a model for us all, and in addition, she just happens to be a great mayor. Thank you for the example that you’ve given all of us.”
McDonald said that while it would be difficult not to participate in next month’s village board meeting, she intended to recognize everyone who had helped her along the way.
“This board — and all the boards that I’ve worked with over the years — you’ve been tremendous,” she said. “I’ve been very blessed to have incredible people to work with.”