Another Look at the Candidates

Know who you're voting for before heading to the polls Tuesday.

John DeMaro, Estates incumbent
John DeMaro, Estates incumbent
Three of the four property owners' associations are holding run-off elections Tuesday. Residents will head to the polls to vote for a trustee in the East, a trustee in the Estates and a mayor in the West.

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Here's another look at the candidates:


Dennis Donnelly: Incumbent trustee Dennis Donnelly is seeking another two-year term. He was first elected to the seat in 2009. Prior to his service on the village board, Donnelly served as president of the Eastern Property Owners' Association (EPOA) and chairman of the Joint Conference Committee (JCC). The Garden City Chamber of Commerce honored Dennis with its Community Achievement Award back in 2008. He and his wife, Nancy, have lived in the village for 45 years. They have three grown children: Tara, Erin and Brian.

Francine Ryan: Francine Ryan is seeking public office for the first time. She is hoping to serve the East as village trustee, a two-year term beginning in April. Ryan said her priorities are three-fold: reduce village taxes, improve communication from village government and ensure representation for every resident and business. This working mother of three children is a member of the Garden City Historical Society and Cherry Valley Club. She has been a resident of Garden City's East end for 27 years.


John DeMaro: Incumbent trustee John DeMaro, nominee of the Estates Property Owners' Association, is seeking another two-year term. A partner in the law firm of Ruskin Moscou Faltischek, PC, where he is chair of the firm’s Intellectual Property Group and a member of the Litigation Department, DeMaro received his law school degree from St. John's University School of Law. He is current board liaison to the Garden City School District. He and his wife, Kim, and their three children, Timothy (11), James (9), and Julia (7) live in the Estates section.

Gregory Blair: Challenger Gregory Blair is seeking village office for the first time. He is a 15-year resident of the village and the founder and president of National Public Energy, Inc. Blair said he has spent his professional career in industrial management, international energy project development in the USA, India, Pakistan and the Caribbean. Blair is a graduate of St. Anne’s School, Holy Cross High School and Fairfield University. He and his wife, Rene, raised two sons and three daughters in Garden City. He currently resides on Oxford Blvd.


John Watras: Deputy mayor John Watras resigned from his trusteeship to run for mayor of Garden City, a two-year term beginning in April. (Robert Bolebruch will serve the remaining one-year of the village trustee seat vacated by Watra; he is not being challenged.) During his nine-year service on the village board, Watras has held numerous positions, including trustee liaison to the Garden City police and fire departments, the Garden City Historical Society, the Garden City Public Library and the Environmental Advisory Board among others. He proposed and helped establish the volunteer Citizens Budget Review Committee. He and his wife, Beth, moved to Garden City in 1994. They have two children, Jonathan and Melissa.

Laurence Quinn: Trustee Laurence Quinn, whose term ends in April, threw his hat into the mayoral race when he challenged his property owners' association's nomination of John Watras. He said he's challenging the "Old Guard candidate for mayor" for many reasons, including the "endless delays caused by the influence of a vocal minority that insists on maintaining a decaying structure for which no plan for full use presently exists have essentially side-tracked progress within the village." Prior to his election to the village board, Quinn served on the Board of Education as trustee for six years. He is currently serving his second two-year term as village trustee representing the West. He has resided in the village for more than 16 years, currently living on Tanners Pond Road.

  • The election in the Estates section will be held at Stratford School between 4:30 and 9 p.m.
  • The election in the West will take place at Homestead School between 4:30 and 9 p.m.
  • The election in the Estates will take place at Stewart School between 4:30 and 9 p.m.
  • There will not be a run-off election in the Central section because no one challenged the Central Property Owners' Association's selection of Richard Silver for village trustee.
Greg Blair January 28, 2013 at 09:17 PM
Thanks to all our wonderful neighbors in the Estates who have opened their doors these past four weeks. I've truly appreciated your interest in this candidacy and your candor in sharing your views on how Garden City can be an even better place to live and raise our families!
GC Resident17 January 28, 2013 at 11:05 PM
Mr. Blair, I commend anyone who wants to get involved. I just find it bery disturing that you were not at the Capital Budget Meeting on Saturday. You have to vote on the Capital Budget, and you were not even there to hear the presentations by the different departments. How can you make a decision on this budget.
GC Resident17 January 28, 2013 at 11:06 PM
Ms. Ryan, Same comment for you as well. I just do not get the feeling that you or Mr. Blair are taking this seriously enough.
Greg Blair January 28, 2013 at 11:11 PM
I believe this budget gets voted on by the current board, which is why they were in attendance. If that's not the case, I will study the budget and meet with department members over the next eight weeks. I've settled on similar budgets with more moving pieces with less luxury of time. Thanks for your interest. Residents like you are a great resource.
GC Resident17 January 28, 2013 at 11:16 PM
You do vote on this budget. As 1 of the 8 trustees that we would elect to manage our village, I would expect the people that we are electing to know more about the way the village operates. Unfourtantely in these times, it can not be a learn as you go job.
Greg Blair January 28, 2013 at 11:33 PM
I assure you I will be prepared prior to the date of the vote. I was meeting with residents on Saturday and the exchange was also worthwhile and enlightening.
John Davis January 28, 2013 at 11:40 PM
You have to be kidding me. Did Greg Blair really just write that comment above? Mr. Blair are you joking? You clearly have no interest in doing the job, and that comment proves it. You have made it 100% clear that John Demaro is the only legitimate candidate in the Estates election.
john ertle January 28, 2013 at 11:44 PM
They tell residents that they are concerned with taxes and the future of GC but do not attend the capital budget meeting or even know that the first responsibility of a trustee once elected is to vote on the budget. Even if they were not going to vote on the budget this year, any serious candidate would be interested enough to take the time to attend, listen, ask questions so that they were aware of how the tax dollars are spent. Them not attending is further proof that their agenda is completely different than they claim.
John Davis January 28, 2013 at 11:51 PM
You assure us you will be prepared 8 weeks from now. You have had how many months to plan and run your campaign? You should be prepared right now, we vote tomorrow!
Jack O'Niel January 29, 2013 at 12:07 AM
Maybe they were both at a CSSP meeting with Watras.
Reed Marcus January 29, 2013 at 12:22 AM
Mr. Blair this is not just as simple as you not knowing a basic responsibility of the job, but it begs to ask why you would not think you should attend, for many reasons. The first of which is that Trustees are responsible to monitor and hold administration members accountable for spending against their budgets; secondly, since you have never been involved in the budget process nor the detail operations of the village that you claim needs your expertise to change, how can you do that if you do not sit through a budget meeting that is a critical part of the overall process, and the basis for much of village’s needs. This lack of knowledge and understanding is the type of thing that cannot happen if you were to become a Trustee. And to merely brush this off is rather reckless. Even your solution is presumptuously dismissive given that the Department members will now need to "meet with you" on something that was your responsibility to do when everyone else was doing it. Where is the efficiency in that? You have also told us that you were too busy campaigning (convincing people to vote for you). You do realize that the people you are encouraging to vote for you expect that you will do what you are supposed to do without "residents" explaining the job, department members repeating presentations that should have been dealt with when scheduled. Mr. Blair, there is just too much basic knowledge you lack about the Village. You require more than just basic “catching up”. You need to spend time observing and learning. Given your lack of prior involvement, I am neither surprised that you assumed you did not need to go to this meeting, nor that you can solve it by just meeting with department members on your own schedule to “settle in” on this less than complex budget (compared to your business experience). What does surprise me is that you would comment as you did above without thinking through your answer, and then come up with the closing comment , ”Residents like you are a great resource”. Is that really your response? Lastly, how could the supporters who have asked you to run and convinced you that you are qualified have failed to tell you the importance of the Capital Budget Meeting as well as how to consider the importance of you commenting on your absence? It should be quite embarrassing for you. You might want to reconsider your response. Do you think you have the election all wrapped up? Voters are still reading this exchange. If they are not, people will point them to it.
john ertle January 29, 2013 at 12:58 AM
On Mr. Blair's Facebook page he asks his supporters to contact friends an let them know what's at stake. Now that's vague, maybe not!
Greg Blair January 29, 2013 at 01:59 AM
Regardless of tomorrow's outcome, we are all going to have to work together - let's please try to keep this in mind. The village budget is less complicated than my business budgets. I'm not being arrogant, it's simply the nature of the beast - significantly fewer variables and less volatility in major mover categories. I will not disappoint my neighbors on my ability to understand this budget, ask the questions that need asking and vote responsibly. I invite the candidate you support to share his budget views with the voters.
Reed Marcus January 29, 2013 at 04:32 AM
Sorry Mr. Blair, you can say that you are not arrogant, but when you say all the things that you say and state so matter-of-factly that you can do what all the other board members (past and present) have done without any experience in the specific field of Village Governance (volunteer or professional), it is arrogant. And when you say things like "nature of the beast", you compound that message, because you really did miss the boat by not attending the budget meeting. A little humility would have gone a long way yesterday before you replied. All you had to do was say that you missed it, it was an error in judgment and you realize now how important it is. To make excuses and claims that residents should not worry because you can make up the time lost by using others’ time (insinuating that their time is not as important as yours), you clearly do not know the nature of the beast here in Garden City. We will all live amongst each other and all the barbs will pass. You really will need to take a step back and understand that you insulted alot of people by making a political game out of what every volunteer and village professional do every day. They dedicate their time to service of the community for the long haul. You simply cannot stand up and claim a seat. And the politics in what you do albeit attractive to some residents is not sincere in that it disrespects the residents by misleading them to think the solutions are simple and that you will bring about all the answers. All issues in Village government are “complex”, or else they would not be so difficult to solve; to say otherwise is to say that the people running it (not individuals, but groups of people) for many years are just not as smart as you. I am not insulting you or belittling your professional experience, I am just telling you like it is. That is the nature of the beast. (I am not any candidate)
Greg Blair January 29, 2013 at 05:45 AM
Manny Velez, thank you for revealing your identity as Reed Marcus. It helps for our neighbors to understand your comments in proper context as Chair of the Estates POA Nominating Committee. As such, no one could possibly expect you to support anyone other than the candidate you nominated. Please do not accuse me of arrogance during a commission of flagrant obfuscation.
Manuel Velez January 29, 2013 at 11:42 AM
This is Manny Velez, and I have been made aware of a situation that apparently needs clarification. I am sure residents who know me and who speak with me know exactly how I feel about qualified and experienced candidates. For those who may not know me, I have posted several times during this campaign clearly stating my full support of John DeMaro. Additionally, I am the Nominating Committee Chairperson. As such, I stand with the Nominating Committee 100% in support of the Estates Nominating Committee Nomination of John DeMaro for Estates Village Trustee. I am not Reed Marcus. Let’s re-focus on the decision at hand today which is completing this run-off election without other distractions. Let’s be sure we vote for the most qualified candidate with the most experience to represent us. Thank you.
Tony Bevelacqua January 29, 2013 at 12:23 PM
I would like to make a few points on this patch. Reed Marcus is right. Village trustee is just to important. It is important that we have the same people taking this important role ("guiding the ship") because other people could not do it and then property values would go down. John Skarmko and Jack O'Neil and Neil' O'Malley are right that if you do not attend all the meetings then you can never be trustee. That is how our democracy works. For instance, I am just a simple man and I know that I could never do this and so I leave it to men like candiadate Demaro who has figured it out and knows how to do it. How dare anyone who is not Candidate Demaro or Reed try to run for office. You could never do it. It is impossible. It is only possible for Candiadate Demaro. Good luck to everyone in today's election. I will be voting.
GCRes1 January 29, 2013 at 12:33 PM
The single biggest issue facing the Village (and all municipalities) is the rising cost of workers' pensions and benefits, stifling work rules, hiring/firing rules, binding arbitration mechanisms, etc. The job of the Board Of Trustees is the RESIST that enormous pressure, through contract negotiations, to continue to provide Village services without allowing our tax rates to explode. Question: How does Francine Ryan expect to be an aggressive negotiator on behalf of her fellow citizens when she is relying on union firefighters to hand out literature and otherwise support her campaign? its an embarrassing conflict of interest that disqualifies her for service as a trustee.
Gerald Cadigan January 29, 2013 at 01:44 PM
Mr. Donnelly, Mrs. Ryan "did not" have the paid firefighters and their union "members" out campaigning for her today. That's innacuarate and misleading to the readers. There was only “ONE” Professional Fire Fighter out campaigning for Mrs. Ryan today and that was me and I happened to be at the Garden City train station. Trustee Episcopia saw me there as he was there also campaigning for you. Although I am a fire firefighter I wasn’t there representing Mrs. Ryan as a firefighter I was there because I too am a resident of Garden City and I live in the eastern section of the village. The Professional Firefighters are not publicly supporting any candidate for trustee and never have. There was an ad in this weeks Garden City News supporting Mr. Donnelly and Mr. DeMaro, which reads “Paid for by Firefighters for Responsible Government.” I have never heard of that group but I do know it was not from the Professional Fire Fighters Association of which I belong. The only other fire organization in the village I’m aware of are the volunteer fire fighters and if it’s them supporting these candidates in that ad well that’s their right as it’s my right to support Mrs. Ryan. I have been a firefighter for this village for over 38 years having served as both a volunteer and as a career professional firefighter for 31 years. For the past 14 years I have served as a Deputy Chief for the Nassau County Fire Academy as a Fire Safety Specialist in the Public Education Division. Many people throughout Garden City know my family as my parents have been residents of Garden City for over 62 years and raised 7 children in this village. My family had a serious house fire late at night in 1966 when we were all asleep. The quick response from the firefighters stationed at the Clinton Rd firehouse around the corner, to our house on Brook Street prevented the damage from being much worse than it could have been. My father always said he was so grateful that the firehouse was so close. Over the past few weeks’ people have been giving their opinions about Garden City’s fire service, many claiming to be experts and many whom I know are not. That’s why in this country we all have the right to support whom we want and say what we want without retribution or criticism. It is my personal and professional opinion that taking the career firefighters out of the fire stations at Clinton Rd and Edgemere Rd. during overnight hours as the village board voted to do is unsafe for residents and for our fire fighters both career and volunteer.. Mr. Blair and Mrs. Ryan are also not in favor of removing the career firefighters from firehouses during overnight hours and that is why I am supporting her. Mrs. Ryan has also told me personally that she does not want to replace the Garden City Police with the Nassau County PD. I was at the EPOA town meeting and I didn’t hear her make that statement. I have also contacted other residents who I saw at the meeting and they too have said she never made that statement. If she did I would not support her. Others have and will disagree but again we are all entitled to our opinions. That's what makes America GREAT!
Jack O'Niel January 29, 2013 at 01:50 PM
Come on, she only supports the firehouses because it's opposite what her opponent has said. She has to make the distinction somewhere so that it's not so easy to see past her St. Paul's agenda.
GCRes1 January 29, 2013 at 04:54 PM
Mr. Cadigan: No one has suggested the paid firefighters do not have a right to support a candidate in this election. But then, every voter has the right to consider whether that support means Ms. Ryan has a conflict of interest when it comes time to negotiate with your overpaid, overstaffed, over-overtimed, over-everything union. I think she has a conflict that disqualifies her from service.---------- I would also point out how conflicted YOU are in describing for us your opinions regarding staffing, work rules, pay or any other issue. All of your opinions coincide with your receiving more pay, more overtime, better union-favored work rules. When a municipal union employee starts talking about my family's safety, I grab for my wallet.
Gerald Cadigan January 29, 2013 at 06:01 PM
GCRes1...If you're too coward to post your name on your post as are many of the cowards who like to rant and give their opinions you're not deserving of a response. But since you are a supporter of Mr. Donnelly maybe you can enlighten the readers her as to why Mr. Donnelly removed this post that he put up around 11am this morning,after I answered him? dennis donnelly 3 hours ago I see that Mrs. Ryan has the paid firemen and their union members campaigning for her this morning. If elected will Mrs Ryan stand up to the unions or negotiate sweetheart deals for her supporters?
dennis donnelly January 29, 2013 at 06:19 PM
Mr. Cadigan I think if you check with the editor Carisa you will find I did not remove anything
Matthew Hogan January 29, 2013 at 07:01 PM
Folks, The comment was deleted by me. Accusations are against our terms of use. Please keep things civil on this comment thread and all other comment threads relating to the election. Thank you. -- Matthew Hogan Associate Regional Editor Nassau County
Gerald Cadigan January 29, 2013 at 07:29 PM
Thank you Matt for correcting me. I think that's a wonderful policy!