Development groups and real estate affiliates supported the Village of Great Neck mayor’s successful re-election bid, state election and Department of State records show.
Mayor Pedram Bral easily beat back a challenge from James Wu, a real estate specialist running on the Village for All slate, by a more than two-to-one margin in June to secure his third term. His campaign also raised $9,000 vs. Wu’s $7,327.60.
Bral had 10 donors, according to the July report filed with the New York State Board of Elections, with two donations of $500 and eight donations worth $1,000 each for a total of $9,000.
Bral said he did not know who gave the donations during a telephone interview Tuesday, saying other people handled the financial aspect of his re-election bid and he did not ask for donations from anyone.
Asked why he believed the donors chose to support his campaign, Bral said he couldn’t be sure.
“In the past four years, no development has really occurred in the village,” Bral said. “Is it possible that they agree with the vision of revitalizing Middle Neck Road? Maybe.”
Revitalization refers to the village’s efforts to draw positive development to Middle Neck Road, which has struggled with vacant storefronts in recent years. It led to the village hiring VHB as its consultant on revitalization and a report outlining suggested changes to the zoning code. Public pushback and concern ultimately killed the legislation.
“Our job is not to go and ask someone to come to the village – it’s to provide an environment that those people come and want to create what we want to create,” Bral said, noting that people’s needs “have changed from 50 years ago.”
Lake Success-based Hempstead Properties LLC, headed by developer Frank Lalezarian; Great Neck Center LLC, whose address matches Villadom Corp.; A1 Universal Construction Realty, a real estate development group; and Middle Neck Plaza 26 LLC each donated $1,000, according to state records.
Hooshang Sohayegh, the chairman of FSNK Shopping Center Inc. who was also affiliated with property management group D.S.L.M. Associates in New York City permit records, gave $1,000.
Rouben Mahfar, whose name was the processed one for Woodland Development Corp., which shares an address with Polo Management Corp, donated $500. Mansour Farhadian, listed as the chief executive officer of New York County-based Nilou and Associates Realty Corp. with the New York Department of State, also donated $500.
This helped Bral’s campaign chest underwrite $7,451.39 in the Village Alliance Party’s spending in the 2019 race, according to its periodic report, with the bulk of it going toward lawn sign and campaign literature.
Just shy of $1,900 was spent on campaign literature, $2,776.24 went toward lawn signs, $497.72 was spent on campaign mail, and $796 was spent on print advertising in Blank Slate Media, which owns the Great Neck News.
Other spending included $345.60 for miscellaneous items on election day, $140 for social media ads, and $48 in bank fees.
At the end of the day, Bral said the voter turnout meant much more in the grand scheme of things.
“To me, the election spoke for itself,” Bral said. “I know that there are people wanting to not discuss the facts but discuss why this happened and I would like for everyone to realize that the election is over, the people have spoken, we need to move on, and we need to do what’s right for the village.”
Bral added that if anyone has a legitimate request or suggestion that is possible legally and going to enhance the village, then “the board is open and everybody is listening.”
Wu’s campaign meanwhile raised $7,327.60 from more than 40 donors, according to his 2019 11 Pre Primary report, with donations ranging from $25 to $1,000 from the Northshore Asian Civic Association.
There was also a $1,002.60 unitemized contribution listed on the New York State Board of Elections database as a contribution. It was for an initial deposit to open an account from several contributions, per the campaign filing.
Excluding the unitemized contribution, the average donation to Wu’s campaign was $154.26.
Wu was not available for comment Tuesday.
Most of Wu’s financial support, however, came from donors living outside the Village of Great Neck. Of the 42 donations listed, 23 – or just over half – had addresses outside the village, according to campaign filings and Nassau County property records, five of which were outside the Great Neck peninsula.
Wu’s campaign also seemed to be mainly supported by donors of Asian descent on top of the $1,000 donation from the Northshore Asian Civic Association.
The second largest contribution of $500 came from Donald Ashkenase, a Great Neck Board of Education trustee living in Kensington.
Of the $3,940.73 spent by the Wu campaign as of the June 14 filing date, a vast majority of the spending went toward campaign literature and lawn signs. In total, $3,567.56 was spent with Katz Communications and KC Graphics – $2,000 went for lawn signs, while $1,466 went toward newspaper advertisements.
Headshot photos for the candidates, done separately with Kitty Daddi Photography, cost $200, while $173.17 went toward Paypal fees charged for donations received between May 21 and June 10.