Sea Cliff residents gathered to meet the three village candidates running unopposed this year and hear their goals for the village as well as answer questions from community members before the election, which took place on Tuesday.
Prospective voters filed into Parish Hall at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church last Wednesday to hear from and speak with the candidates. Elena Villafane was running for her second term as mayor, James Versocki for his second term as a trustee, while this election was Mark Sobel’s first run for public office.
The event, which was hosted as it always is by the Sea Cliff Civic Association, offered residents the opportunity to engage directly with those running for office.
“This is a chance for our candidates to tell you about their philosophy of governing,” Ann DiPietro, president of the Civic Association, said. “This is your chance to question them. Any thoughts you have, any concerns you want to bring up, they’re here. They’re here for you.”
The candidates began with brief introductions about themselves, their backgrounds, and why they decided to run for election or reelection. Villafane referenced her 11 years of experience in village government and how her main goal is helping to keep Sea Cliff thriving for future generations, particularly with the ongoing work of the Comprehensive Plan.
“There are still so many projects in progress that I am asking for your trust, your vote and your confidence again,” Villafane said. “If I had to sum up my thoughts, a lot has been accomplished over the last few years, there’s a lot going on right now, and we have great plans for the future.”
Versocki also discussed the projects he would continue to focus on if reelected, especially his work as the village’s representative for the Water Authority of North Shore. He mentioned that he hoped to help improve the lives of Sea Cliff residents without changing the village beyond recognition.
“I like to think that my philosophy in government is very simple,” Versocki continued. “I think that Sea Cliff is a first-class village that deserves first-class amenities and first-class services.”
As this is Sobel’s first time running for office, he focused on explaining his background and why he decided to run for office. A long-time mailman and the former president of Branch 294 of the National Association of Letter Carriers, Sobel has also served on the boards of several local organizations, such as the Arts Council and the Coalition to Save Hempstead Harbor.
Sobel, who will be replacing Deputy Mayor Dina Epstein, explained that since moving to the village almost eight years ago he had been amazed by the quality and character of the community, and hoped that he could do what he could to serve Sea Cliff.
“My jobs have always been about helping others, and I think that’s what really brought me to Sea Cliff in the first place,” Sobel said. “The most important thing you can do in the civil service is listening, because people have a lot to say and sometimes, they don’t get to say it.”
The event then turned into an almost impromptu village board meeting as residents asked questions and aired their concerns about a wide range of ongoing projects and issues. Some were interested in learning the status of the Water Authority, while others expressed worries about littering in the village’s green and public spaces.
The event ended with each candidate thanking everyone for showing up and reiterating the love they had for Sea Cliff and its residents. Following the election Tuesday, all three candidates will now take up their seats on the village board.