Hu, Lancman narrowly elected to serve Great Neck Library board

Hu, Lancman narrowly elected to serve Great Neck Library board
Great Neck Library board President Liman Mimi Hu (left) and Rory Lancman (right) were declared victorious in a contentious library election on Monday. (Photos courtesy of the candidates)

Great Neck Library Board President Liman Mimi Hu and Rory Lancman were victorious in a contentious election against a pair of candidates who filed challenges and a subsequent lawsuit over a handful of absentee and proxy ballots.

Hu defeated challenger Jessica Hughes 1,760-1,753 for another four-year term on the board, while Lancman defeated Rusu 1,683-1,626, according to certified election results. Fellow trustee candidate Karen Hirch Romero received 154 votes. 

Nominating Committee candidate Kim Schader defeated challenger Sara Rivka Khodadian 1,688-1,667, according to the certified results. The committee seat lasts for three years.

The counting of votes from the Halloween election was challenged by Hughes and Rusu, who also filed a legal complaint against the library and their opponents. The vote counting was set to resume Nov. 21, but was delayed a week due to COVID-19 exposure.

The lawsuit, which cited concerns about the legitimacy of absentee ballots that had not been counted prior to Monday, resulted in the filing of a stipulation of discontinuance last week. A team of qualified officers from the Nassau County Board of Elections resumed the counting of votes before releasing the certified results Monday evening.

The three victors said they were “honored” to be elected to their positions, grateful for the community support and respected their opponents for expressing their ideas on the library throughout the race.

“We thank everyone who voted — regardless of who they voted for — and thank everyone for their patience as we fought to ensure that every vote was counted,” a joint statement said. “We thank Jessica Hughes, Christina Rusu, Karen Hirsch Romero, and Sara Rivka Khodadadian for putting themselves and their ideas forward to the voters. The Great Neck Library is a special place for all of us. We seek your input and your support for keeping the Great Neck Library a place of free expression, enrichment, opportunity, and growth.”

Hughes and Rusu previously filed objections to halt the count of proxy ballots. Ultimately, officials canvassed an additional 51 ballots resulting in victories for Hu, Lancman and Schader. 

The challenges made by the two included ballots that had non-original signatures or no signature at all, incorrect dates and were handwritten or lacking time stamps, according to court documents.

Court documents said the machines’ results showed that Hughes led Hu by 250 votes, Rusu led Lancman by more than 150 votes and Khodadadian led Kim Schader by more than 190 votes.

Lancman and Hu, in a prior statement, said the approximately 300 proxy ballots that were counted as of Nov. 2 resulted in Lancman leading by 22 votes, Hu’s deficit being reduced to 28 votes and Schader’s deficit reduced to 18 votes.

Lancman and Hu had criticized the lawsuit, while Hughes and Rusu said they launched the complaint to ensure election rules were being enforced and consistently applied.

“This lawsuit is a slap in the face to voters, library users, taxpayers, and the library’s professional staff.” Lancman and Hu said. “It is an extension of the vitriolic, disrespectful, scorched earth campaign which has been waged both in this election and, truth be told, against our civic institutions.”

“The rules of any election should be strictly enforced in order to avoid disenfranchisement of voters,” Hughes and Rusu said. “By seeking to have an unbiased review of the voting procedures conducted in this election we are seeking to protect voters and ensure that the democratic process was followed.”

The library district stretches from the Great Neck peninsula to North New Hyde Park and is comprised of the Main Library on Bayview Avenue along with the Lakeville, Parkville and Station branches.

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