To the Editor:
What an amazing, overwhelming, landslide victory in the annual GC election of its Trustees, held on March 16th.. There were five key races. Each race had a candidate nominated by the four GC Property Owners Associations, and an opponent from the For A Better Garden City Party. The WPOA had two candidates — one for Trustee, and one for Mayor, Bob Bolebruch. About 3,600 voters participated — compared to a few hundred in most past elections, which had unopposed candidates. GC probably has never had a turnout this large.
The stunning outcome: All five of the races were won by a minimum of 70% of the vote. There were no close races! Apparently people voted across-the-Board — expressing a desire to produce a significant change in the makeup of the eight-Trustee Board.
How did this astounding repudiation of our Board of Trustees Occur? Here is my analysis:
1) The FABGC Party ran a superb, grass roots, campaign. A several-dozen “core” team of dedicated, passionate members spread the message — over the last roughly six months — via Letters and articles to the GCNews, weekly Zoom town halls, phone calls, door-to-door contacts, emails, petitions, mailings of flyers and simply speaking to all their friends, neighbors and families. This produced an explosion of 3,600 votes vs. just a few hundred in the past several years.
2) The FAB “gospel” originated, late last year, with long-time GC resident Don MacLeod. His enemies have labeled him as a “bully” and a “dictator.”
I call him a visionary, tireless hero, and truly inspirational leader, whose infectious passion derives from his love for Garden City and his conviction that our Village needed better leadership. His energy level is truly remarkable. A true motivator!!
3) The FAB message gained traction by merely enumerating its truthful message of facts, and unsatisfactory policies, actions, and inactions, by the current, and prior, Boards. In my view, a deep, long-term, undercurrent of dissatisfaction, with how the Village was being managed, was awakened. Inertia was converted to action. The FAB message was not exaggerated, false or misleading. It sold itself to the voters. It just needed to be told.
4) FABGC ran highly qualified candidates, with strong integrity and credentials of service — to our Village and in their careers. Importantly, our new Mayor, Cosmo Veneziale, will be an effective leader of the Board and residents. He defeated his opponent, Mr. Bolebruch, with 72% of the vote. Bolebruch garnered only 852 votes — and finished #4 among the five POA candidates. He had the longest (eight years) tenure of the outgoing Board. So much for the claim that POA Party candidates had long “experience” in Village management. Longevity did not create praiseworthy results in recent years.
In short, the March 16th vote was historic. It upset a 100-year archaic tradition of unopposed candidates, selected by small groups of nominating committees. The vote, I hope, will set in motion a more democratic, open, transparent government that listens, and carefully considers, the wishes of the residents. Perhaps a two-party system should be a permanent part of GC politics. Food for thought. Finally, FABGC favors term limits for our trustees.
Garden City has never had them..
George M. Salem
P.S. I have become aware that many towns and villages in Nassau County conduct elections that have no opponents. Voting becomes a waste of everyone’s time. . For example, here are the results of just-completed no contest “elections” and the number of votes for the winner: Roslyn – 107; Great Neck Estates -14; Thomaston – 25; Kensington – 17; and Russell Gardens – 31. (See “GCLife,” March 24-30 edition.) On the other hand, New Hyde Park just completed a first-time contested election, with two parties, It produced 600 votes for the winner. To all Nassau municipalities I say: contested elections produce the best results for the people and towns.