Bob Stern has retired as Thomaston mayor, 18 years after he first ran for office, peeved about a plan to remove village sidewalks and the impact that could have on his granddaughter, a young tricycle rider.
Stern, then a retired jeweler, kept winning village elections even though he said he never intended to stay in office for nearly two decades.
Now 89, Stern said it's time to retire again.
"I got old," he said. His resignation was effective Sept. 9.
Officials are to appoint Deputy Mayor Steve Weinberg, 53, as mayor at the village board meeting on Monday. An election for a full two-year term will be held in March.
Stern said he was most proud of his efforts to reduce the size and cost of government for residents of the North Hempstead village of 2,600, one of nine villages on the Great Neck Peninsula.
Stern was an advocate for road improvements and the village is on its second repaving project since he took office.
"I have very large shoes to fill," said Weinberg, an attorney specializing in surety law who works in Manhattan. "The village has been very fortunate and lucky to have" Stern.
Thomaston has 900 homes and businesses, according to the village clerk's office, and is composed largely of single-family homes.
Stern said when he took office, he eliminated nominal salaries for elected officials. The village in 2009 eliminated its village court, saving $22,000 of a $2.2 million budget. That decision was met with some opposition from residents and a trustee, who said the court was part of the village identity.
Stern said he is proud of passing budgets without tax increases for the past five years.
Weinberg said he hopes to continue initiatives started by Stern, such as the road paving project. He said he also wants to beautify the village through plantings, and to see the restoration of the Colonial Road Bridge, which has been a source of noise complaints from residents.
North Hempstead Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth described Stern as a "friend" and "mentor," with whom she worked as a Nassau County legislator and as president of the Great Neck school board.
She recalled securing funding for a salt shed for the village, and the thanks from Stern: a salt shaker attached to a wooden block, inscribed: "You gave us more than a fair shake."
"He's a charming man," Bosworth said. "He'd always find the common-sense solution than try to make things more complicated than they actually were."
Stern said his second retirement will include gardening and plans to renovate his garage, "so my house won't look like an eyesore in the village."
His granddaughter is now in her 20s. "We wanted her to have a sidewalk," Stern says, recalling the issue that started his political career.