Donna M. McNaughton, 72, was sworn in as Glen Cove’s newest councilwoman on Dec. 12, a crowning achievement of a family line which has been in the city since before the United States was even established as an independent nation.
McNaughton is an eighth-generation member of the Glen Cove community. Her ancestry dates back to Charles Germain, who fought for the independence of the American colonies during the Revolutionary War with the French military. After returning to France following the end of the war, he emigrated to the United States, settling his family down in Glen Cove. Since Germain’s arrival, McNaughton’s family name has changed numerous times, but her family’s dedication to the Glen Cove community has remained consistent.
McNaughton was born to John and Ruth Zammett on Apr. 14, 1946. John was a fighter pilot during WWII and continued his flying career after his military service as a pilot for Pan American World Airways. Ruth worked as a florist while also raising McNaughton, her older brother John and her younger sisters Kathleen and Betsy.
As a child, McNaughton attended St. Patrick’s Catholic School before moving on to Glen Cove High School. It was during these teenage years that she was first inspired to enter government. In November of 1961, she was babysitting the children of Joe Reilly on the day he was elected mayor of Glen Cove. He returned to his home with a whole host of supporters behind him that night, and it was the sight of this celebration that fostered a desire to enter politics within McNaughton.
She married Neil McNaughton, another Glen Cover, in 1968. Together, they had three children whom they loved above all else: Beth in September of 1969, Donald in October of 1971 and Douglas in June of 1974. Neil served as an administrator at the Glen Cove Building Department prior to his retirement in 2005. He also volunteers at the Glen Cove Fire Department, where he continues to serve his community after 58 years.
McNaughton raised her children in Glen Cove, and over the years, they have provided her with 10 grandchildren.
McNaughton’s public service to the City of Glen Cove truly took off in the early 1980s. For over a decade, she served on the board for Glen Cove Junior Baseball and acted as the president of the city’s girls softball league. While serving in those roles, she would organize the young baseball and softball players to sell raffle tickets, the proceeds of which would be used to take them to watch the Mets play at Shea Stadium. All of this was done as a volunteer while still working as a paralegal, a career path which began in 1979 and ultimately served as her motivation to become a lawyer.
In order to fit her schedule as both a mother and a paralegal, McNaughton enrolled in night courses at SUNY Empire State College, where she earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Business in 1990. She would then go on to earn her Juris Doctorate from St. John’s University School of Law, becoming a lawyer in 1994. Shortly thereafter, she partnered with her former employer, city attorney Vincent Taranto, for whom she also worked as a paralegal, creating Taranto & McNaughton LLP. Finally, she formed her own practice in 1998, Donna M. McNaughton, P.C., where she continues to serve her community to this day.
When she is not working, she is an avid golfer and greatly enjoys cooking for her family and friends, who serve as the most integral part of her personal life. She said that she truly could not live without the many people who she holds so dear.
McNaughton has served in various roles directly serving the City of Glen Cove. She acted as a chairperson of the City of Glen Cove Zoning Board of Appeals, as well as a chairperson on the Board of Managers of the Glen Cove YMCA. However, she is perhaps most proud of her work as a board member and counsel to the Glen Cove Senior Activity Generational Endowment (SAGE) Foundation, which acts as a fundraising source for activities at the Glen Cove Senior Center.
“My heart is there,” McNaughton said of the Senior Center. While she said that she is excited to begin her work as a city councilwoman, she is saddened by the fact that she can no longer act as counsel for the senior center. Individuals involved in city government cannot directly provide legal counsel for the center.
People with whom she worked at the SAGE Foundation said that they found her contributions to be of the utmost importance. Lee DelValle, current president of the SAGE Foundation said, “[McNaughton’s] work was invaluable. She was very dedicated, she always had wonderful advice for us and she helped us in so many ways.”
DelValle later added, “In her very quiet way, she did for the foundation what many others may not have been able to do.”
Carol Waldman, executive director of the senior center, said that McNaughton is a person of great morality and versatility when it comes to solving problems. “She doesn’t look at what party she’s from; she looks at what her ethics and her morals are,” Waldman said. “There are people who are great at forming ideas and there are people who are great at executing them. Donna is both.”
Waldman also indicated that she strongly believes that McNaughton will be a great benefit to the people of Glen Cove in her new position. “I think the residents of Glen Cove are going to be very fortunate to have her on the council,” Waldman said. “She will be very reasonable and compassionate. I hope she will continue to provide support and inspiration for our community. The city will be in great hands.”
It was this extensive work with a variety of community boards that has instilled a confident attitude within McNaughton in terms of her ability to serve the people of Glen Cove. “I’ve gained so much life experience,” she explained. “I think that bringing all of this to the table is going to help me to be a good member of the City Council.”
Glen Cove Councilman Joe Capobianco put McNaughton’s name forward as an acceptable replacement for Councilman Michael Zangari directly after receiving his letter of resignation in November. Capobianco said he recommended McNaughton based on his strong belief that she “…will be perfect because she’s level headed, has a good head on her shoulders, knows the community and her roots run deep.”
McNaughton said that in the next few weeks she plans to spend a great deal of time with Mayor Tim Tenke to gain a full understanding of the challenges the administration faces. She hopes to collaborate with the mayor and her colleagues on the City Council to do all she can to help the Glen Cove community through their projects.
“[The community] can expect a person that will take every issue seriously and make the decision that is best for Glen Cove,” Tenke said of McNaughton.
Above all else, though, McNaughton indicated that the welfare of community residents will always be at the forefront of her mind. “My ultimate goal is to just do what’s best for the people of Glen Cove,” she said.
Finally, to the people of Glen Cove, McNaughton says, “I’m going to do my best to do what’s fair for each and every one of you.”