In a four-part series starting today, Patch examines the impact on Rockland County of four female political leaders who are being honored by the Rockland Women’s Political Caucus on Sunday for their roles in the community.
These women often keep a low public profile and do not get their names in the news very often. However, their common goals are working on issues that impact the residents of their areas and helping their party’s candidates get elected to office. They are all honored to be recognized together. Patch finds out what motivates them.
Today: Meet Nicole Doliner, chair of the Clarkstown Democratic Committee.
Nicole Doliner was raised in a politically active family on Long Island.
“I grew up in a household where we were taught to pay attention to what government does,” said Doliner, the leader of the Clarkstown Democratic Committee. “I was taught to get involved not sit back and complain. This is what I was exposed to my entire life – to give back.”
It comes as no surprise to her or her family that Doliner continues to do just that. Elected as the committee chair two years ago, Doliner had worked with the committee in various capacities.
“I’ve been a candidate in campaigns (she was a candidate for Clarkstown Receiver of Taxes in 2001), run campaigns and served as committee secretary," she said. Doliner worked on Clarkstown Councilwoman Shirley Lasker’s campaigns and for the successful "Open Space" referendum in Clarkstown.
The early discussions at home led her to majoring in English with a double minor in Political Science and Education at the State University of New York at Albany, where she earned her bachelor’s degree. Her goal was to become a teacher and she did. After Doliner completed her student teaching her first classroom turned out to be in Kenya. Doliner decided to join the Peace Corps and spent two years in northwest Kenya.
“I was an English teacher in an all boys’ high school in rural Kenya,” she recalls. “It was an amazing experience. When I look back on it now I gained so much as a person.”
Doliner shares an added connection with the Peace Corps; both celebrate their 50th birthdays this year.
She embraced the culture in Kenya and was enriched by it. Next she traveled in the Far East and was astonished at the differences in people’s lives. There was a lack of roads and no running water in many areas.
When she returned to New York, she worked on Wall Street but found it was too extreme for her.
“My heart was in public service,” she said. So she returned to school and took accounting courses. Her first job in government was during Mayor Ed Koch’s administration in the budget office of the New York City Parks Department. When she left six years later, her title was budget director. Since 2003, Doliner has been the legislative fiscal analyst for Rockland County Legislature in New City.
In 1993, she, her husband and young son moved to New City. A daughter was born several years later. Soon after moving to the county, Doliner got interested in the controversy surrounding the application to build the then proposed Palisades Center mall.
“Sometimes it takes an issue to get you involved again,” she said. That was the situation with her. She began learning who the officials were and attending Clarkstown Planning Board meetings and hearings. “I decided it was time to get involved in the Clarkstown Democratic Party,” she said.
Doliner was elected committee chair in September 2008 and re-elected in September 2010.
She has specific ideas about the direction of the Democratic Party. “I feel a large part of what the Democratic Party should be doing is a grassroots effort to make sure people are aware of what’s going on,” Doliner said.
She acknowledges the current financial situation makes government’s job tough because people want to cut expenses to reduce taxes that are already high. “We can’t lose sight of the fact we live in a community with amenities. It comes at a cost,” she said.
Doliner does see change coming and points to the fact this is the first time in Rockland’s history that so many women have been elected committee chairs. “I was the first woman of this group elected town chair in Rockland. I would go to meetings with the town supervisors and committee chairs and I was the only woman," Doliner said.
She expects the increased female presence at the political meetings will have a positive affect.
“I think it’s starting to bridge the gap between the various towns in Rockland," Doliner said. "We can work collectively to get things done. That’s something we haven’t seen for a long time.”
There is plenty of work to still be done. Only two of the 17 county legislators are female (Chairwoman Harriet Cornell of West Nyack and Legislator Connie Coker of South Nyack) and more young people need to be involved in the political process, Doliner said.
“The Rockland County Young Democrats are doing an excellent job of reaching out to young people," Doliner said. "They’re trying to draw them in to become part of the process.”
She looks forward to more young adults participating and becoming interested in politics.
The female political leaders are being honored at the Quisqueya Sports Club in Haverstraw from 3 to 5 p.m. on Sunday. For more information about the event, which also features keynote speaker CBS Correspondent Nancy Giles, or to make a reservation contact Emily Dominguez at email@example.com or 845-947-8532.
Coming up next, a look at:
Friday — Kristen Zebrowski Stavisky of West Nyack, who is Rockland County's new Democratic Party chairwoman.
Saturday — Toni Fallon of Orangetown
Sunday — Mona Montal of Ramapo