Village of Great Neck Mayor Ralph Kreitzman dubbed state Sen. Jack Martins (R-Mineola) and Assemblywoman Michelle Schimel (D-Great Neck) “our dynamic duo” as the Nassau County Village Officials Association honored the legislators for their efforts on behalf of local government at its 87th annual dinner gala last Thursday night.
Kreitzman, a Democrat, said Martins and Schimel were legislators who understood the needs of local government. Kreitzman said they had set an example for other politicians in leading the fight against state mandates.
“Jack is continuing to find ways to relieve the mandates on local government,” Kreitzman said during the dinner at the Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury.
Martins, who along with Schimel is running for re-election, sponsored a bill for a partial repeal of the MTA tax during the last legislative session that eliminated the tax for 289,000 small businesses with payrolls under $1.25 million. Kreitzman noted that Martins is the Long Island representative on the state Mandate Relief Council.
Kreitzman said Schimel’s eight years as Village of North Hempstead town clerk attested to Schimel’s appreciation for local government.
“Michelle understands how local governments work,” Kreitzman said.
He credited Schimel for twice leading efforts to pass legislation permitting local governments to continue using lever voting machines to spare them the high costs of switching to costly computer voting machines.
Martins, who was elected to the Senate after serving as mayor of Mineola, told the village officials they were the most important officials in the state because they represent residents at the most fundamental level of government.
“You’re the closest to the people,” he said.
Martins thanked the officials present for helping him during his eight-year term of office as mayor of Mineola and emphasized the connection he and Schimel both have to local government.
“We both come from local government and we both understand that the state doesn’t understand the problems of local government,” Martins said. “It’s our job to make you job as easy as possible.”
Asked about the honor he received after his remarks, Martins said, “If you consider the services villages provide and their responsiveness to residents, I think we would all agree that village government has been a model of efficiency. I also want to thank the NCVOA for all the work it does in bringing villages closer together to share ideas and programs to all of our benefit.”
Schimel called the occasion a “glorious night.”
“It’s been a long and winding road in Albany. But I love coming home to the land of the free and the home of the brave, Nassau County,” she said.
Schimel told the officials her favorite saying to a New York City Assembly member is, “I can call my mayor any time of day. Can you?”
Schimel said she found it particularly gratifying to be honored with Martins.
“He recognizes the impossible and the possible, because you need to seek both when you work in the New York State Legislature. His pragmatic approach helps me in my pursuit of solving challenges,” she said.
She acknowledged that “sometimes tongues wag” when she and Martins conduct press conferences together or when he appears in one of her mailers.
But she added, “At the end of the day, we are all in it together – in what I consider to be, the most noble of professions, that of government. And we are here to get the job done.”
Schimel concluded by telling the officials, “As long as I’m in Albany, I will have your back.”