Former state Assemblyman Lancman running for G.N. Library board

Former state Assemblyman Lancman running for G.N. Library board
Former state Assemblyman Rory Lancman is running for a seat on the Great Neck Library Board of Trustees. (Photo courtesy of Rory Lancman)

Former state Assemblyman and new Great Neck resident Rory Lancman announced he will be running for a trustee in the library’s Oct. 31 election, saying that a library should not be a battleground for the culture wars.

Lancman, who served as a state Assemblyman representing the 25th District and as a member of the New York City Council, moved to Great Neck last year with his wife, Mojgan, the first Iranian-American to be elected as a state Supreme Court Judge.

He and Mojgan got married 27 years ago at Temple Israel, so Lancman said he always felt as if he was an “honorary Great Neck resident.”

He also serves as an alternate on the Village of Great Neck’s Planning Board and was involved with Board of Education Trustee Donna Pierez’s campaign for re-election this year.

He will be running against Karen Hirsch Romero and Christina Rusu for a vacant seat on the board.

Lancman, in his short time as a Village of Great Neck resident, said he was “surprised” to see the Great Neck Library at the center of ongoing internal litigation and in the peninsula’s cultural division.

“I cannot say how disturbing it is that you have one faction of the library board and nominating committee suing another faction and then another faction is suing them back,” Lancman said in a phone interview. “Any normal person in the Great Library District would view that as an absurd waste of time and money.”

After individuals filed a legal complaint over the way its Board of Trustees filled a board vacancy late last year, the trustees submitted their own complaint claiming they acted within their authority.

Lancman said his experience working with a variety of different stakeholders coming from a multitude of backgrounds and upbringings through his time serving the public would be beneficial for the library moving forward.

“I know how to work with a group of people who have diverse interests and agendas and backgrounds to address the problems that are better in front of us in a civil and rational way, and arrive at a result,” Lancman said.

Organized and structured discussions, he said, are the best ways to accomplish what needs to be done throughout the library district.

Working as a member of the New York City Council, Lancman said, he was part of a group that oversaw the funding and operations of the New York Public Library, Brooklyn Public Library and Queens Public Library. He said this experience showed him how a library system should function.

“With those libraries, we’re talking about hundreds of millions of dollars, providing vast programs and services to many diverse communities,” he said. “There’s no reason that the Great Neck Library can’t provide learning and enrichment for everyone without all of the drama.”

Lancman said he has heard from patrons of the Parkville branch, which serves a portion of people in the greater New Hyde Park area, that they would like more attention to be focused from officials on improvements to their branch.

Establishing an advisory committee for each branch, he said, would be one of his top priorities, if elected.

Improving community engagement and input with regards to programs and services, he said, is another goal he wishes to accomplish, along with engaging the schools more and potentially working more hand-in-hand with them.

“People come to Great Neck because of the schools, the educational opportunities for kids and the enrichment opportunities for older adults as well,” Lancman said. “The library is an integral part of our educational cultural system here. There just needs to be better coordination and more regular collaboration with government and community organizations.”

Lancman also expressed his strong desire to help end the cultural divisiveness throughout the library community and the library’s internal strife by working with every one of the board members if he is also elected.

The election is scheduled for Oct. 31 from 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

The voting site for those residents living north of Northern Blvd. will be the Main Library, 159 Bayview Ave., Great Neck 11023. Residents living south of Northern Blvd. will vote at the Parkville Branch, 10 Campbell Street, New Hyde Park 11040.

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