Past elections in Manorhaven have been marked by bitter, hotly contested campaigns. But when Mayor Jim Avena, Deputy Mayor Priscilla von Roeschlaub and Trustee Ken Kraft make their bids for re-election on June 19, they will all be running unopposed.
“I think it says a lot,” Avena said about the lack of challengers. “I think it says that people are happy with the job we’re doing. I think that’s our report card right there.”
Residents in Sands Point will also go to the polls on the 19th, and two trustees — Peter Forman and Lynn Najman — will also be running for re-election uncontested.
Avena’s first term as mayor was not without controversy. A resolution to extend the village’s mayoral term from two years to four sparked outrage amongst residents, and when put up for a referendum it was soundly defeated. Some residents also took exception to a study to rezone the village’s waterfront property.
But during several village meetings, attendees thanked Avena and the board for running the meetings, and the government, more smoothly than previous administrations.
“We’ve done a lot to be proud of,” Avena said, pointing to changes to alternate street parking in the winter, improvements to garbage collection and cleaning up the Manorhaven Nature Preserve. “And people seem relatively happy.”
The mayor said that the reason for his administration’s success was the good working relationship that everyone on the board had with each other.
“A lot of credit to my board, they worked extremely well together over two years,” he said. “Each person has a different specialty.”
He praised von Roeschlaub for her work in the preserve and Kraft for his work on the village code.
Von Roeschlaub said that her work to establish the Growing Love Garden and dog park in the preserve was the biggest accomplishment of her last term. She said that she has continued to run for the village board — of which she’s been a member since 2014 — because it is a way to give back to Manorhaven.
“I thought it was the right time to work for my community,” she said of her decision to run four years ago.
Avena and von Roeschlaub said their big goal for the next two years is to borrow $5 million for upgrades and repairs to the village’s roads and sewers.
“We will make all the residents aware of it and we will go through the necessary steps,” Avena said.
In neighboring Sands Point, Najman and Forman are the only candidates to retain their seats as trustees. Both ran unopposed in their last election two years ago.
“I think it’s important for citizens to be involved in the day-to-day operations of their local government,” said Najman, who also serves as the village’s building commissioner.
Forman has spent the last decade as the emergency manager for Port Washington and Manhasset. He has served as a trustee for five years and is also the village’s finance and treasury commissioner.
“Some people are civic service minded, and that’s been my nature,” he said of his decision to get involved with the Sands Point government.