Mitch Pally will retire as CEO of the Long Island Builders Institute at year’s end, he announced.
Pally has led the trade group of more than 600 home builders and remodelers in Nassau and Suffolk counties since December 2010. LIBI has a staff of six and yearly revenue of $1.5 million.
However, the region’s chief housing-industry lobbyist is probably best known for his 14 years as a member of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's board. Pally was a staunch advocate for Long Island Rail Road customers until being replaced at the behest of then-Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in 2019, Newsday reported at the time.
“It’s time for me to place the torch in the hands of the next individual,” said Pally, 70, of Stony Brook, referring to his leadership of LIBI.
“We’ve raised the credibility of the organization, so people don’t look at us as just wanting to pave over Long Island … We want to build housing for all residents,” he said in an interview.
LIBI board president Steven Krieger, a partner in the real estate development company Engel Burman in Jericho, said Pally “has been at the center of virtually every important discussion regarding the future of our island — from mass transportation to energy.”
Krieger said on Tuesday that LIBI "has retained a recruiting firm to identify and welcome potential candidates [to succeed Pally] who understand the complexity of our economy, its government-affairs environment and the various challenges and opportunities the region is facing."
LIBI and the Association for a Better Long Island, a group of commercial real estate developers, have long collaborated in lobbying the federal, state and local governments.
ABLI executive director Kyle Strober said “because [Pally’s] style has been to quietly seek progress through reasoned consensus, while allowing others to take credit, few know of his professional achievements — from drafting our nation’s first seat-belt law, to attracting and retaining Long Island’s businesses, to advocating for diverse housing options, to fighting for Long Island commuters.”
Pally worked on the state law that requires seat-belt wearing during his nine years as an attorney for the Senate transportation committee and Legislative Commission on Critical Transportation Choices, both in Albany. He left the state capital to work for the Long Island Association business group for 21 years. He then spent 4½ years at the Weber Law Group in Melville, where he specialized in real estate and land-use cases, before being hired by LIBI.
In 2005, Pally was nominated by then-Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy to represent the county on the MTA board and subsequently was appointed by then-Gov. George E. Pataki. Pally would go on to serve under three more governors.
“There have been times that Long Island’s interests were overshadowed by the interests of New York City,” Pally said. “I thought it was important that there be somebody with an independent voice advocating for Long Island.”
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said on Tuesday, "As Suffolk’s representative on the MTA board, Mitch was a fierce advocate for all commuters. Not only did he fight for fair and reliable service, but he worked to push forward projects that were critical to the sustainability and growth of our region."
Pally said he hasn’t yet decided what he will do in retirement beyond spending more time with his family, including nine grandchildren.
"It's time to relax and take things one day at a time," he said.