A Democratic Primary election is being held on Sept. 12 and for the first time in a long time, candidates for Glen Cove City Council will be included on the ballot. Thanks to the efforts of Marsha Silverman, voters will choose six out of seven candidates to appear on the ballot for November’s general election.
Silverman, a registered Democrat and treasurer of the Glen Cove Democratic Committee, was not selected to be on the slate with mayoral candidate Tim Tenke—a decision that she said surprised her—and felt she had enough community support to pursue a primary election.
“When I heard that [I was not on the ticket] and the feedback from residents, I chose to advance a primary because of what I have to offer,” Silverman said.
In order to do this, she had to get signatures from registered Democrats in Glen Cove without the support of the party. Her name will appear along with the other six candidates, councilman Roderick Watson, Gaitley Stevenson-Mathews, Annie Phillips, Marcela De La Fuente, Andrew Bennett and Reverend Roger Williams.
A financial data analyst, Silverman cites one of her main reasons for running as helping to steer the city’s finances in a “better” direction.
“Nobody else has any finance background,” she said of the other candidates, both Democratic and Republican. “A lot the problems with Glen Cove’s finances are due to very short-sighted planning.”
Silverman has been regularly attending public meetings for the last four years, including city council, precouncil, planning board, zoning board and IDA meetings, and as a result has gained an in-depth understanding of how the city operates.
“I want to put fiscal discipline in the city planning and budgeting so that it helps all residents and all citizens, because that’s not being done today,” she said.
She said she wants to see more integration among the city’s boards and agencies because she’s seen direct conflicts.
“I have the finance background to help, I know the issues and I see so many opportunities of where things could be done better, not just across the city, but also in the community,” said Silverman. “I would love to create a community council where we have community members from different areas of the city. Since different neighborhoods have different needs, I would like to see the city representing everybody, equally.”
Silverman first started attending public meetings about six years ago, shortly after she moved to Glen Cove and learned about the Villa Development on Glen Cove Avenue, a project that directly affects her neighborhood. Many residents are aware of her and her wife, Roni Epstein, because of their efforts to stop that development from moving forward and later, for bringing lawsuits against the developer and the city for the Garvies Point Development.
“Going the litigation route was a last resort,” Silverman said. “We exhausted every route before that—speaking at public meetings, bringing an attorney to meetings, basically spelling out for the city and planning board what they had not done to follow the proper rules and regulations and where they broke the law.”
She acknowledged that many people ask her about the lawsuits and whether that poses a conflict to being on the city council.
“With the Villa, the developer is paying the legal fees, so it’s not costing the city money,” said Silverman. “When the city does not properly follow the law, somebody has to stand up and say, this is not right. It might be in my back yard, but it’s not just me, it’s the neighborhood and it’s everybody who drives on Glen Cove Avenue, everybody who uses our schools and our infrastructure that it will strain and it’s a precedent for other areas. So yes, today it’s in my back yard and the city is lucky to have somebody like Roni and me who will stand up for what we believe in.”
She stressed that she is not anti-development or running to stop the development, but objects to the way these projects have proceeded and the financial impact they could have down the line. She noted that, should she be elected and a vote were to come up that posed a conflict, she would recuse herself.
“These decisions that the city has been making on these big residential developments are driven, in my eyes, by the financial position of the city,” she said. “I think we should use our assets, our land, in ways that will help the community. Bringing in only high density residential is not the best way. It’s not going to improve Glen Cove economically.”
Regardless of the outcome of the primary, Silverman will appear on the November ballot as a member of the Reform Party. Last week, she submitted petitions to the board of elections to form a new party, Glen Cove First. Campaigning, she said, has not been easy, but it has been rewarding.
“I have met so many amazing people and so many different people. And I find that underneath, we all have commonalities and that’s why we’re all here,” she said. “I think we have more to do for the people, and that’s why I’m doing this. Somebody has to do this to make it better for the public and if not me, who else?”