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In Saddle Rock, 4 running for trustee seats

Saddle Rock, a bucolic North Shore village of about 300 families, found itself helmed by a new mayor two years ago when former leader J. Leonard Samansky died after 22 years as mayor.

Mayor Dan Levy is running unopposed March 19 for his first full mayoral term.

But two trustee seats are at stake with two challengers saying that, though Levy has brought a breath of fresh air to village leadership, they could add to the wave of change with backing by a contingent of residents who feel underrepresented.

"We were approached by about 100 to 150 people asking us to run," challenger Hamid "Ben" Sharifiazad said. "They wanted to be represented at the board . . . We're running to make sure people are encouraged to get involved."

Sharifiazad, 57, and Shlomo "Mony" Zenou, 49, are running on the Independent Party of the Village of Saddle Rock line. Incumbents David Schwartz, 56, and Mark Collins are running on the Saddle Rock Village Party line. Levy, 58, is also a member of the party.

Schwartz said he and the board have worked hard on behalf of all Saddle Rock residents, "reducing the overhead by fairly dramatic numbers." Snow removal and landscaping costs, as examples, are down 50 percent, he said.

"We've put together a pretty good team," said Schwartz, who runs a financial consulting firm and is vying for his first full term after two years as trustee. "The new mayor, he puts in an immense amount of time."

No task is too small, Schwartz said. "We fix pool pumps," he said. "I was salting a road when somebody's sprinkler system broke on a cold night."

And no task is too big, either. Schwartz, a married father of two, said his background in finance has been useful, particularly in fighting the tax certiorari in Nassau County and trying to reduce taxes on the village's homes.

Schwartz said he also looks forward to further implementing Saddle Rock's five-year roads improvement program.

Collins, a trustee since 2005, did not reply to repeated requests for comment left at Village Hall and with running mates Schwartz and Levy.

Sharifiazad, a mechanical engineer and married father of three, and Zenou, who owns a technology business and is a married father of four, applauded village officials' work but said there is always room for improvement.

Sharifiazad, who ran unsuccessfully for trustee in 2005, said he'd like to upgrade Saddle Rock's recreational area, try to reduce taxes, and make information more readily available to residents to increase interest in and attendance at village board meetings.

"The mayor is doing really well," Zenou said, "and the people are starting to see that if they get involved, they can influence what's going on."

Levy and Schwartz said they have never seen the challengers at village board meetings; Sharifiazad described his attendance as "not that often."

Voting is March 19 from noon to 9 p.m. at Village Hall, 18 Masefield Way.

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