Environmentalist and longtime Great Neck resident Patty Katz, is running unopposed for re-election as commissioner of the Great Neck Water Pollution Control District.
First elected to the position three years ago, Katz is finishing her first term as commissioner. If given a chance at a second term on Dec. 10, Katz said she will try to find more environmentally conscious programs and solutions for the water district.
“Something I would love to do more of is implementing ways to educate the water district’s residents,” she said. “Having more people know what we do and what goes on in our backyards can help generate new, green ideas and important discussions going forward.”
Katz’s environmental activism began a decade prior to her being elected as commissioner. 14 years ago, when she became a member of Reach Out America, a nonprofit, grassroots organization.
The organization’s Green Committee, of which Katz is the founder and vice president, has facilitated environmentally-progressive discussions between politicians, combatted issues such as fracking and climate change, and hosted many public forums to educate those in attendance on the environment, she said.
“Organizations like Reach out America are important to not only highlight but also join and support,” Katz explained. “While it is mainly based in Great Neck, we’ve been working with many people from the Town of North Hempstead to grow our community and strengthen our impact.”
Additionally, Katz received the Nassau County Comptroller’s Women Breaking Ground Award in 2017, and the May W. Newburger Women’s Roll of Honor in 2012.
Working and conversing with public officials on a local, state, and federal level, Katz quickly became acclimated to working in the public sector. In 2016 she threw her hat in the ring for the commissioner position of the water district after people close to her urged Katz to run.
“She is a self-starting organizer and tireless once she begins a project which she always sees to a conclusion,” Reach out America President Rita Hall wrote in a letter to Blank Slate Media in regards to Katz seeking re-election. “Working closely with her I have not only come to see for myself how ethical and hardworking she is, but I have also learned what a generous colleague and friend she can be.”
Like this year’s election, Katz ran unopposed in the election for commissioner three years ago, filling the seat of her predecessor, Deena Lesser.
Now, a week before the public determines her fate for a potential second term, Katz said that she never even expected to be in this position.
“I never pictured myself running for a position like commissioner,” she explained. “The people I work with and the residents of the district have made it an easy decision to run for it again. People like [Superintendent] Chis [Murphy], and the rest of the board are amazing colleagues and a big reason why I want to get re-elected.”
Katz’s track record provides residents with the reassurance of electing someone who is not just experienced but has had their work recognized by New York state. Under her supervision, the district was granted with the 2018 New York State Environmental Excellence Award.
She also helped establish the Shed the Meds event in which residents collect all of their unused or old prescriptions and medications and bring them to be disposed of properly. Over 1,700 pounds of medications were collected this year.
“I think it’s important to be recognized for the work that all of us at the district do,” Katz said. “The state took notice of our initiatives and our dedication to the environment. With events like Shed the Meds, it has shown to be a very meaningful day for plenty of residents. It goes beyond just being environmentally conscious.”
Katz also said the district is on the cusp of several new and exciting initiatives.
From the over $12.2 million received in federal grants, the district is in the process of creating a grease receiving station in Nassau County. The station, the first and only of its kind on Long Island, will take the unused grease from restaurants in the county and properly store and dispose of it.
The district has also implemented the use of solar power, microturbines, and synergistic programs to fuel their headquarters. Once all of the headquarters’ green initiatives are put in place, the inhouse electric production will increase by a minimum of 30 percent.
“We feel like we are the gold standard,” Katz said. “Our center should be used as a model example for what others across the country can do. If I am re-elected, I will keep listening to residents and finding even more ways to save money and energy.”
Voting will commence on Tuesday, Dec. 10 from 1 p.m. – 9 p.m. The district is broken up into two election zones, north and south.
The north zone encompasses the Villages of Great Neck and Saddle Rock and will vote at the Great Neck House on 14 Arrendale Ave.
The south zone encompasses the Villages of Great Neck Plaza, Kensington, and Thomaston, along with a small part of Manhasset, and will vote at the Great Neck Social Center, on 80 Grace Ave. For more information, visit http://gnwpcd.net/?page_id=18.