Village of Great Neck Plaza Trustee Lawrence Katz on Wednesday challenged characterizations of him as an absentee trustee and a “rubber stamp” raised by trustee candidate Jonathan Stein.
“I assume the ‘rubber stamp’ comment refers to my voting record which is generally supportive of the Mayor and fellow Trustees,” Katz said in an e-mail. “It is true we working closely together to assure efficient and effective government. It wold not be helpful to have a Board that is deadlocked or can’t make a decision and is constantly fighting among themselves.”
Katz went on to list votes in which he joined with other trustees to approve a budget, 50 conditional-use permit for businesses in the Plaza and authorizing the mayor to implement more than $4.5 million in grants for traffic safety and beautification.
“You may want to ask my opponent on which of these votes would he have voted no and why,” Katz added.
He also said he did not understand why Stein would call him an absentee trustee as he has been at nearly every meeting since he was elected to the board in 2012.
“The public is invited to attend Plaza meetings and voice their concerns on the record,” Katz said. “I don’t believe I’ve ever seen my opponent at any but one of these meetings.”
Stein also said last week that nobody in the village he has talked to knows who Katz is.
“The idea that no one in the Plaza knows who I am is interesting especially considering that I’ve never heard of my opponent until he decided to run for trustee,” Katz said.
Stein is challenging Katz and fellow trustee Gerry Schneiderman for two open seats on the board in the March 18 election. Voting will be held from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. at Village Hall at 2 Gussack Plaza.
The comments about Katz were made in a letter of his campaign’s website titled “Trustee Schneiderman Caught Urging $2,500 Payoff by Plaza Board.”
Stein said in the statement he was referencing recommendations made by the consulting firm Level G Associates to the village trustees about ways to alleviate parking congestion downtown.
Schneiderman responded by sending a letter to Stein, calling the statements libelous and asking him for a retractions.
Both Schneiderman and Stein called for a debate moderated by the League of Women Voters of Port Washington-Manhasset, but the two could not reach an agreement on the debate’s format.
Schneiderman insisted that Katz be included; Stein insisted that he not be included.
Schneiderman had asked the League of Women Voters of Port Washington-Manhasset to moderate a debate with Stein, Katz and Stein.
But Stein said he only wanted a one on one debate with Schneiderman.
Stein has said he is running for trustees because of low public attendance at meetings due to people feeling they don’t have a voice in village government. He had said people who have recently moved to the Plaza and younger residents don’t feel like they have a voice.
Katz said he thinks he is one of the younger residents of the Plaza as well.
“I consider myself a young person in the Plaza and am raising young children here so I do always keep in mind issues that impact young people,” Katz said in an e-mail. “Issues such as cost of living, which is why we work hard on the budget to avoid tax increases. Issues such as safe streets, which is why I’ve voted for projects to improve pedestrian safety in the downtown areas.”
Katz, a certified public accountant, has said he is running to continue his efforts to support the growth of the downtown business district, which he said is one of his greatest contributions to the village. He said he and his wife moved to the Plaza in 2000 after being attracted to the beauty of the village as well as its small town feel, shops and restaurants and proximity to Manhattan.