Katz seeks Great Neck sewer district seat

The Island Now

Great Neck resident Patty Katz will be the only person on the ballot in next month’s Great Neck Water Pollution Control District election for outgoing Commissioner Deena Lesser’s board seat.
Katz was the lone candidate to file a nominating petition by Friday’s deadline, according to a sewer district official, and barring a write-in campaign will run unopposed.
“If there’s something that I think I could do to impact our community and residents, I firmly believe that it’s the most important thing you can do,” she said. “I am passionate about the environment and it seems to be a good fit. I certainly hope I can serve in this capacity and represent the residents.”
Katz said she was raised in Great Neck, and after leaving for a few years after she graduated from college, returned to the peninsula about 14 years ago.
She was very involved in community and environmental efforts with the Great Neck school district and Great Neck Park District, she said.
About 10 years ago, Katz said, she joined Reach Out America, a nonprofit group that advocates for the environment, voting rights and world peace, among other issues. She currently serves as its vice president.
She said she noticed at the time that Reach Out America had a number of committees, but no environmental committee.
After proposing an environmental committee to the group’s executive board, Katz said, she founded the group’s Green Committee.
She chaired the committee for nine years and helped  create initiatives that placed recycling bins throughout the park district and held seminars on how to properly dispose of unused medication.
Former North Hempstead Town Supervisor Jon Kaiman appointed her to the town’s Ecological Commission, of which she is still a member.
Katz is also a member of the town’s Environmental Legacy Fund for Land Preservation.
Although she has done a lot of work in the local community, Katz said she has also organized fundraisers to install borehole wells in underprivileged regions of Africa.
She said that effort included bringing a warrior elder from the Maasai people, an ethnic group based in southern Kenya and northern Tanzania, to Great Neck to discuss the need for a fresh water source.
“I was very proud of that because we grow up in this society with blindfolds on, we take so many things for granted,” Katz said. “Here was somebody who lived in a place that didn’t have the simplest thing, which is fresh water.”
She said that seeing the circumstances that underprivileged people had to endure made her more passionate for protecting her local environment.
“We need to take care of our resources and be grateful for what we have and also protect what we have,” Katz said.
She said she has known Lesser, who will retire at the end of year, since she is also a member of Reach Out America, and would like to continue the work that the outgoing commissioner has accomplished.
“It’s like a passing of the baton. She’s done such a tremendous job not just at the water pollution control district, but throughout the community,” Katz said. “For me this is such a great honor to, in some ways, carry on her legacy.”
The sewer district’s election will take place on Dec. 13 from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Residents of the district can vote at Great Neck House,  at 14 Arrandale Ave., or at the Great Neck Social Center,  at 80 Grace Ave.
The Great Neck Water Pollution Control District is located at 236 East Shore Road and serves the villages of Great Neck, Great Neck Plaza, Kensington, Thomaston and Saddle Rock as well as parts of Manhasset.

By Joe Nikic

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