Former Mayor Scott Strauss Starts New Chapter
Much has changed on the Mineola Village Board since the March 15 election. Deputy Mayor Paul Pereira has just moved to the mayoral seat as former Mayor Scott Strauss will have his last day on April 4. Trustee Janine Sartori, who was officially elected after being appointed, and trustee Jeffrey Clark are settling into their seats and soon there will be another seat once Pereira chooses someone to finish out his term.
Strauss was happy to see the team that Pereira is mustering, and he knows that there’s a great opportunity in front of him. “There’s no doubt he’ll seize that,” Strauss added.
“Paul Pereira is a fantastic individual,” Strauss said. “He’s going to do great things. He has good ideas and a great support network. The Village of Mineola is going to do nothing but grow.”
Strauss, so far, has had quite a history in public service, serving the New York City Police Department until he retired in 2004 and volunteering for the Mineola Fire Department since 1981. After retiring, he began working with Northwell Health, then LIJ Health System, currently serving as their vice president of security. Strauss, along with his wife, works with the Boy Scouts of America and Strauss’ two sons serve on the Mineola Fire Department.
Strauss credits both of his parents for inspiring him to serve his community.
Strauss said he’s unsure what his next steps would be, but for now he wants to thank all the residents for giving him the opportunity to serve them as their mayor. “We started the revitalization of our downtown and had Mineola recognized locally and nationally for doing that,” Strauss said. “We put several millions of dollars into our aging infrastructure and our parks, building a new fire house, we are building a new water administration building and we’re staying well-ahead and surpassing state-mandated regulations, keeping our water clean and safe. We built a fantastic amphitheater and had dozens of free concerts and all of this was done keeping taxes in check and low.”
Out of the village’s increasing tax bills here in Mineola, the village gets about $1600 a year from the average homeowner.
“I think our residents get a tremendous amount for that,” Strauss said.
In a week before his last day, Strauss agreed that leaving this position is bittersweet.
“I don’t know what the future has in store for me, but whatever lies ahead, whether it be personal challenges or another role in community service, I’ll take them on and go at it with everything I have,” Strauss said. “That is something I’ve always done and will continue to do.”
And everything he’s done as mayor couldn’t have been done without having a great team, Strauss said.
“I’ve very fortunate,” Strauss said. “Every elected official should be as lucky as I’ve been. Everyone from our fellow trustees and our department heads to our employees have been absolutely wonderful to work with. Nobody can do the job alone and I’ve been extremely fortunate to have been surrounded by such a dedicated team.”
As Strauss steps out and Pereira steps in, Pereira said he has “big shoes to fill,” between Strauss who served as mayor for 11 years and former Mayor Jack Martins, who served for eight years.
“Both of them were highly regarded, highly respected and had some ambitious plans,” Pereira said. “I hope I can live up to those standards for sure, but as for me I would like to certainly bring some new ideas and a new perspective to village government and be bold and think for the next stage of the village’s development.”
Earning trust and respect, as Pereira and the village board manages the taxpayer dollar, is a priority as well.
“We have spent the better part of the last decade investing in our infrastructure, our aging infrastructure; such as water, sewer and of course undertaking the building of a new firehouse and rehabilitating most of our wells,” Pereira said. “All of those things are needed. Some of those things are mandated by New York State and of course, we want our residents to have clean water and we want them to be able to enjoy those services that though they may not see, are certainly very important.”
Investing in infrastructure that residents may not see, as the timely and expensive work is done behind the scenes, is something the village has been doing for a good part of the last decade, Pereira said.
“What I would like to do is start to pivot to perhaps, things that people can see and enjoy in a more traditional way,” Pereira said. “I’d like to invest in our parks, in our fields, for our young families and for all residents, really. I’d like to eventually invest in upgrading our pool and I would like to invest in keeping our downtown clean. That is important. We have a lot of construction going on downtown with the third-track project and that has created some conditions that are less appropriate at this time and hopefully when this construction ends later this year, I’m hoping we can continue the revitalization of the downtown.”
Part of that revitalization, Pereira explained, includes paving First Street, Second Street and Main Street, as well as concrete work in those areas.
“Hopefully that would lead to more businesses coming in and filling up some of those empty store fronts,” Pereira said.
And the village board will certainly be able to take on these projects, as Pereira agreed that, like in the case of Strauss, he and the trustees make a good team.