Voters in Great Neck and North New Hyde Park will decide who should help lead the Great Neck Library in an election on Monday that could potentially bring a major shift in the Board of Trustees and Nominating Committee.
The library election comes as the library embarks on renovating the Parkville and Station branch libraries, working on the overall book collection and landscaping the Main Library. It also follows the appointment of Denise Corcoran as library director.
Among the issues raised in the campaigns have been how the library is perceived, what programming should be offered and the book collection, which many see as having shrunk since the renovation of the Main Library.
Nine people are listed as the library’s “slate of candidates” for this year’s elections, with seven of them endorsed by the Nominating Committee. Two people – both current trustees – are running as independent candidates.
Of those nine people, three are running uncontested for seats on the Nominating Committee. Its primary function is to vet and recommend candidates for library positions.
Trustees’ responsibilities include developing a strategic plan and budget, overseeing programs and services, and making sure the library complies with local, state and federal laws. Additionally, the Board of Trustees has the power to appoint people and hire – or fire – the library’s director.
Three trustee races appear to be contested.
Robert Schaufeld, an attorney and board president, is running independently to finish Francine Ferrante Krupski’s term, which is January 2019 to 2020 and ongoing library projects like a landscaping project at the Main Library and renovations of the branch libraries.
This puts him against Nominating Committee-endorsed candidate Scott Sontag, a project manager for Morgan Stanley hoping to boost involvement in the Great Neck Library and foster partnerships with other institutions.
David Zielenziger, a journalist and Nominating Committee-endorsed candidate for the seat of Joel Marcus, is facing off against Trustee Chelsea Sassouni, who was appointed earlier this year to fill a vacancy on the board.
In his candidate statement, Zielenziger said he is running to “restore comity to the board, end merry-go-round directors, protect facts and truth, reach out to newcomers and encourage lifelong reading in the Great Neck/New Hyde Park community.”
Sassouni, in her candidate statement, said the library system has offered her “countless opportunities to learn, connect and grow” and she is hoping to bring the library into the modern era.
“Despite e-books and search engines, our libraries are relevant as ever: they are the physical anchors of our communities,” Sassouni said. “In continuing my role as a Trustee, I hope to help translate a library’s purpose – to nurture every individual’s capacity for learning – into the 21st century.”
The Nominating Committee endorsed Liman “Mimi” Hu, a third-year law student and member of the Great Neck Chinese Association board, for the seat currently held by Schaufeld. It carries a four-year term.
In her campaign statement, Hu described the library as “not only a resource hub and learning center, but also a cultural hotbed which promotes arts, literature and diversity.”
“In this digital age, I find a library’s physical space crucial for residents in a community to develop meaningful bonds with each other,” Hu said. “It is my top priority that our library maintains and continues to develop outstanding events and programs that suit our community’s needs.”
Hu has also expressed interest in increasing the amount of foreign language books and spurring greater community involvement with the library.
There is also a write-in campaign targeting Hu by Qiping Zhang, a professor at LIU Post.
Josie Pizer, an education consultant who previously served as a library board trustee for two terms, is running uncontested for what was once Doug Hwee’s seat on the library board. She would serve from January 2019 to 2021.
“I am asking for your support to continue to give back to the Great Neck Library that aided my academic and career successes,” Pizer said. “I am committed to working cooperatively and energetically with my neighbors and fellow trustees to present our entire community with a library that is forward-thinking, diverse and committed to the growth of our system.”
Pizer also noted that she would “provide stability, continuity, expertise as well as experience.”
Francine Ferrante Krupski, a retired school teacher and former board trustee, is running uncontested for the Nominating Committee seat once held by Howard Esterces.
In her candidate statement, Krupski cited her experience as a trustee.
William Gens, a writer and tennis coordinator for Parkwood Tennis, is running uncontested for the Nominating Committee seat currently held by Donald Panetta.
Gens, in his candidate statement, described the library as a “hub of activities, not just a place to read and check out books.”
Both of these positions have three-year terms.
Siu Long “Alex” Au, a director for payroll tax reporting and compliance, is running uncontested for the remaining two-year term of Nominating Committee member Samuel Gottlieb.
Au, in his candidate statement, said he values “enabling excellent user experiences and listening to the needs” of people in the Great Neck community.
Elections will be held on Monday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Residents living north of Northern Boulevard vote at the Main Library, located at 159 Bayview Ave. in Great Neck, while those living south of Northern Boulevard vote at the Parkville Branch, located at 10 Campbell St. in New Hyde Park.