Great Neck Library candidates introduce selves to voters

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Library candidates
Library candidates Cheng "Carey" Ye, Weihua Yan and Dr. Barry Smith addressed potential voters at a forum on Wednesday night. Sam Gottlieb could not attend. (Photo by Janelle Clausen)

Three of the four remaining library candidates for Great Neck Library leadership positions fielded questions from residents on Wednesday night, as the Oct. 30 elections draw near.

The two races for trustee seats and two races for nominating committee seats are all currently uncontested.

Each of the library candidates present – one for each trustee position and one for a Nominating Committee seat – expressed support for investing more in the children’s room, books and department.

They also noted the importance of the completed library renovations, maintaining books, and communication to support existing programs.

“I’m not going to come in as a tornado,” said Dr. Barry Smith, a medical director and professor seeking to fill Michael Fuller’s expiring trustee seat. “I’m coming in to be part of an organization, that is a good organization, that I can make better with my ideas brought to the table.”

There is also a “steep learning curve” to find out what the community wants and needs, he added.

The event, which was hosted at the Great Neck Library on Wednesday, Oct. 18 from 7:30 to 9:00 p.m., was moderated by the League of Women Voters.

It comes as the library plans on implementing a landscaping plan, comes to terms with finished renovations of the main library, and searches for a new library director following Kathy Giotsas’ termination.

Trustees are responsible for all appointments, developing a strategic plan and overseeing management of the library and its programs.

Members of the Nominating Committee, meanwhile, vet and recommend library candidates for trustee positions, but do not have the power to appoint them.

Weihua Yan, who is running for Marietta DiCamillo’s seat, said he has spent his career “developing enterprise technology” and co-founded start-ups. But he quit his full-time job three years ago to be a “full-time dad,” he said, and his family has a vested interest in the library.

“I believe the library is an important part of our community and it fosters and encourages lifelong learning,” Yan said. “It’s also a magnet to attract people, come together and share their experiences.”

Cheng “Carey” Ye, who seeks Marie Franzoni’s position on the Nominating Committee, said that some people may know her already through her work on the Saddle Rock PTA, Great Neck Chinese Association or Boy Scouts.

Having first come to the United States around a decade ago for her master’s degree, Ye said she has since considered herself a Long Islander.

“Most importantly, I am an honest citizen and concerned community resident who wants to contribute my time and expertise to make our community even better,” Ye, who is married to Yan, said. “And I look forward to the opportunity to give back to our library.”

Ye was originally slated to go against Josie Pizer, but Pizer dropped from the race for an undisclosed reason, Interim Library Director Tracy Geiser said.

Sam Gottlieb, a financial advisor and lawyer who is going for Omer Soykan’s expiring Nominating Committee seat, could not attend due to a work engagement.

But in a statement, he said the library system is “one of the most important institutions in Great Neck” and that he would carefully review potential board members.

“I will devote my energies to nominating those candidates who I believe share the vision of continuous progress in improving the Library, not merely those who simply want to maintain the status quo,” Gottlieb wrote.

Residents living north of Northern Boulevard can vote on at the Main Library at 159 Bayview Ave. in Great Neck. Residents living south of Northern Boulevard can vote at Parkville Branch, 10 Campbell St. in New Hyde Park.

Voting will take place from 10:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. on Oct. 30, with a board of trustees meeting following at the main library.

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