Great Neck’s justice post lone election contest on peninsula

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Residents of three Great Neck villages will go to the polls on June 15. (Photo courtesy of Flickr)

The Village of Great Neck’s village justice election June 15 is the lone contested race throughout the peninsula.

Incumbent Mark Birnbaum is seeking his third four-year term as village justice, but is opposed by local attorney David Kirsch.

After serving as a commissioner for the Great Neck Senior Housing Authority 30 years ago, Birnbaum became a member of the Village of Great Neck’s Zoning Board for a number of years, eventually serving as chairman of the committee.

In 2002, Birnbaum ran a successful campaign for a trustee position on the village’s Board of Trustees, where he would continue to serve until 2012. In the early stages of his trustee tenure, Birnbaum was appointed the liaison for the Nassau County Police Department, the village’s public safety commissioner and the Great Neck police commissioner. In 2013, Birnbaum shifted roles once again when he was elected as village justice, then re-elected again in 2017.

Kirsch attended Hofstra University for his undergraduate education before attending Touro College in 2003, where he received his juris doctorate in criminal law three years later.

Prior to working at the Barton Law Group, located in Huntington Station, Kirsch served eight years as an associate attorney for Koehler and Isaacs LLP. Kirsch represented clients in criminal, labor and disciplinary cases.

Kirsch said his first job out of school as an attorney was working at the Bronx District Attorney’s Office, where he served as an assistant to former DA Robert Johnson. Kirsch handled crimes ranging from narcotics to violent felonies.

Both candidates cited the importance of conducting fair and unbiased trials for every person who steps into the courtroom and their desire to give back to the community.

Kirsch said he has served as the vice president of security for Young Israel of Great Neck for the past several years, along with being a member of the synagogue’s Executive Board. Serving in those positions, he said, involved trying to secure federal grant packages to help make the building more secure. Kirsch said he went on to expand his efforts to various other houses of worship to partake in securing those grants as well.

Birnbaum, who is running on the “Good Neighbor” party line, said he is an active member of Temple Israel, serving in a variety of positions in the synagogue over the years, including as president of the Couples Club, chairman of the Catering Committee, a trustee, vice president, and first vice president on the board. He has also volunteered his services as general counsel to the Great Neck Chamber of Commerce for more than 15 years.

Mayor Pedram Bral, Trustee Annie Mendelson and Trustee Steven Hope are all running unopposed.

*******Bral, a surgical director at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, was first elected as the village’s mayor in 2015. After defeating former Mayor Ralph Kreitzman in 2015, Bral was challenged in his 2017 and 2019 re-election campaigns as well.

In a spring newsletter sent to village residents, Bral praised community members for their actions in a year plagued with hardships due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“The residents of the Village of Great Neck have continued to be an inspiration by their acts of kindness to one another,” Bral said. “I thank every resident for adapting to these changes, keeping your family safe, helping your neighbors, and sharing with us your vision to make our village an even better place to live.”

Mendelson, a technical product manager at Refinitiv, was first elected to the board in 2015. She spent time working in the defense and software industries before getting her teaching certificate in 2003, according to a previously submitted biography. She taught math at Great Neck North High School until 2013 and also served on the Architectural Review Committee and as a representative to the Manhasset Bay Protection Committee.

Hope, a property manager at Park Row South Realty, has served on the board since 2017. Hope has been a coach, trustee and soccer commissioner at Great Neck PAL for more than 10 years. He is also the former president of the Brotherhood of Temple Beth El, where the group undertook various community initiatives that raised money for groups, including the St. Aloysius food pantry.

All of the trustee positions are two-year terms.

Voters can cast their ballot at the Village Hall located at 61 Baker Hill Road from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

In the Village of Lake Success, Trustees Lawrence Farkas and Gene Kaplan are running unopposed in their quest for another two-year term on the board.  Marian Lee, who has served on the village’s Planning Board and Parks & Recreation Board, is running unopposed for a spot previously held by David Milner, whom Lee beat in the village’s primary election earlier.

Voters can cast their ballots at the Community Building located at 318 Lakeville Road from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m.

In the Village of Kings Point, incumbent Trustees Hooshang Nematzadeh, Kouros Torkan and Ira S. Nesenoff are running unopposed for re-election. Village Justice Randa Maher is also running unopposed for another four-year term.

Voters can cast their ballots at Village Hall located at 32 Steppingstone Lane from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m.

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