Rebutting charges from a political opponent, Village of Great Neck Mayor Pedram Bral and Trustee Anne Mendelson insisted on Tuesday that the village has been transparent and responsive.
They were responding to a statement last week by Rebecca Gilliar, a community activist who has filed to run against Bral, that the “current mayor has proved himself to be untrustworthy and undemocratic.”
Gilliar first worked with Bral in 2013 by organizing a last-minute write-in campaign to try and unseat Ralph Kreitzman, then the Village of Great Neck mayor. Then she ran the campaign for the Voice of the Village Party in 2015, which saw Bral, a physician, elected as mayor.
Ray Plakstis, who resigned earlier this year, and Mendelson were also elected on the Voice of the Village ticket.
“We saw them as a unified group of people who represented almost everything you could possibly represent in the community,” Gilliar said.
Now Gilliar is running for mayor alongside Adam Harel on the Village Unity Party ticket. Harel, Mendelson and Steven Hope, who was appointed to fill Plakstis’ seat, will be competing for two seats in the election on June 20.
Bral and Mendelson’s joint statement said that since taking office, the board has grown the business district, listened to residents’ feedback in numerous ways and has been responsive by paving roads, repairing potholes and cleaning parks.
“There has been nothing untrustworthy and undemocratic about the activities of the current mayor. Quite the opposite,” Bral and Mendelson said in the statement.
The statement goes on to say that the mayor made time to meet with vendors and developers to learn more about issues and proposals. No decisions are made in these discussions, the statement said, and all information is presented publicly to be discussed.
“Transparency has been at the core of all we do for the village,” they said.
They also noted that they “reduced the structural deficit and maintained a healthy fund balance.”
“Our goal continues to be to make the Village of Great Neck a destination point for both Great Neck residents and shoppers from neighboring towns; but more importantly we hope to unite the residents in respecting one another and the beautiful diversity within our community,” Bral and Mendelson said.
Gilliar said she frequently recommended that the village get an ombudsman, specifically, “an official appointed to investigate individuals’ complaints against maladministration, especially that of public authorities.”
“Things are not filtered through the mayor in that regard then. It isn’t just the mayor’s friends that get attention,” Gilliar said. “An ombudsman is for everyone.”
In challenging Bral, Gilliar brings over 45 years as a resident of Great Neck, as well as involvement in various institutions throughout the community. One of her recent accomplishments, she said, was saving thousands of books from being discarded and returning them to the community.
“I would say I’ve been active in most of the institutions that form the core of the community: the schools, the library, the park district and the village,” Gilliar said.
Professionally, Gilliar also has experience as a freelance magazine writer, television producer and photographer. She also worked as an adjunct professor at Queens College.
“I synthesize information well; I delve into the material and ask salient questions. I am intellectually organized; I communicate well; I explain well, and I care if people understand,” Gilliar said.