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Watras Elected Garden City Mayor

Former police/fire commissioner

becomes 45th village head

John Watras was elected Garden City’s 45th Mayor on March 19 during the general village election. He will be sworn in on April 1 at village hall. Watras, who won the February run-off election when challenged by fellow trustee Laurence Quinn, was unanimously selected by the Western Property Owners Association’s (POA) nominating committee.

A veteran of village politics, he has18 years of service under his belt with the Western POA having served as a village trustee for the past ten years. As trustee, Watras has held various positions including, Finance Chairman, trustee liaison to the Garden City Historical Society, the Garden City Public Library, Board of Cultural and Recreational Affairs, Zoning Board of Appeals, senior citizens, and the Environmental Advisory Board. Prior to his election to the village board of trustees, Watras served as President and held several director positions.

Watras has the distinction of being the only trustee to have served as fire and police commissioner simultaneously. Since April 2011, he has been serving as deputy mayor. Along with fellow Western Section trustee Gerry Lundquist, he also established the volunteer Citizens Budget Review Committee.

As trustee liaison to recreational Affairs and senior citizens, he spearheaded the roller rink project at Community Park and has supported the expansion of space for senior citizens.

Kevin Ocker, chairman of the board of commissioners of cultural and recreational affairs for Garden City has worked closely with Watras. “I’m excited to work with John in this new capacity,” said Ocker. “He has been extremely helpful as liaison to recreation affairs and has been instrumental in bringing to the forefront the expansion of the senior recreation center. Seniors are a growing population and he has recognized that. Additionally, St. Paul’s community garden was John’s idea and many residents including Boy and Girl Scout troops have benefited from this new feature.”

A graduate of Hofstra University with a business administration degree, Mr. Watras has been involved in the securities industry since 1986, and is a past director of The New York Stock Exchange. He is currently a partner and managing director for a brokerage firm. During his career, his responsibilities have included institutional sales and money management for corporations, and he held compliance and principal responsibilities on the trading desk for Blackford Securities Corp.

A Garden City resident since 1994, Mr. Watras serves as chairman of the development committee for Little Village School, and is a member of the board of directors of the Tanners Pond Environmental Center.

Regarding his new position, Watras said, “I’m pleased to be elected mayor and I’m eager to work with both village staff and my fellow trustees to move the village forward. My goals are to maintain levels of service, be fiscally responsible and do the right thing for all of the citizens of the village. I will work to move the senior citizen center ahead, market the villages’ facilities better and work to get more citizens involved and engaged in the community.”

When asked about his goals for St. Paul’s, a polarizing issue for many, Watras advised his goal is to seek a resolution on the fate of the historical structure.

Many citizens are familiar with Watras’ work as a fervent volunteer. Garden City resident Betsy Andromidas shared: “I’m so glad that John Watras has been elected Mayor of Garden City. He possesses the qualities one looks for in a public official such as honesty. He’s also an independent thinker and has invested so much of his time to make the village of Garden City a better place to live. His heart is in the right place.”