The Nassau County Village Officials Association, or NCVOA, elected Great Neck Plaza Mayor Jean Celender as second vice president and appointed former Great Neck Mayor Ralph Kreitzman as executive director, giving Great Neck considerable influence in an organization affecting thousands in Nassau County.
NCVOA, representing 64 incorporated villages totaling over 450,000 residents, aims to encourage cooperation among villages for mutual benefits.
This includes giving a forum to exchange ideas, developing educational programs, and investigating the best ways to govern villages. NCVOA also works with lawmakers and the New York State Conference of Mayors.
Warren Tackenberg, former president and executive director of the organization, said its past achievements included negotiating for lower garbage costs, securing emergency radios after Superstorm Sandy and getting voting machines.
“We lobbied with the state government on a number of different issues,” Tackenberg said.
NCVOA also elected Freeport Village Mayor Robert Kennedy as president, Farmingdale Mayor Ralph Ekstrand as first vice president and Sea Cliff Mayor Edward Lieberman as treasurer.
Celender, elected on June 29, will help establish NCVOA’s policies and help direct the organization’s efforts. She is also filling a position vacant since former Flower Hill Mayor Elaine Phillips‘ became a state senator.
Celender was not immediately available for comment.
Both Tackenberg and Kreitzman said Celender is someone with important experience who could become the organization’s president in a few years.
Tackenberg described Celender as someone who could give them “more voice, more respect” in Albany.
Kreitzman said Celender’s management of a vibrant downtown, years as mayor and ability to get grants put her in a strong position.
“She obviously has years of very broad experience and she brings a perspective that some of the other villages don’t have,” Kreitzman said.
As executive director, Kreitzman will manage the day-to-day operations and work with the board. Currently, he and Tackenberg are working together until year’s end to ease the transition.
“I would like to see us more visible, I would like the public to know more of what we do, I would also encourage the executive board to be a little more aggressive in dealing with Albany,” Kreitzman said. “The villages, to a great extent, have been ignored by Albany.”
Kreitzman brings experience from the Town of North Hempstead Community Development Agency, Great Neck Village Officials Association, the Water Authority of Great Neck North, being mayor of Great Neck Village, and various other organizations.
He was also part of the New York State Conference Mayors’ executive committee and president of the Nassau County Village Officials Association.