Voters to determine library trustee race

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Voters next Wednesday will determine whether to re-elect Manhasset Public Library Trustee Donald O’Brien to a second five-year term or select one of two challengers to replace him on the board.

O’Brien, the board’s treasurer, is being challenged by Bill Harvey, a commercial real estate professional, and Gloria Su, an associate professor at Columbia University Medical Center in Manhattan.

Voting will take place at the library from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. 

The candidates last Tuesday participated in a forum sponsored by the Port Washington-Manhasset chapter of the League of Women Voters. 

All three candidates said they would seek to maximize developing technologies while maintaining fiscal responsibility and cautiousness as the economy continues its recovery. They also acknowledged a lack of available parking during highly-attended library events was also a major issue facing the board.

O’Brien, elected to a five-year term in 2010, helped establish the library’s building reserve fund for various repairs and refinance about $17 million in bonds issued in 2004 for the construction of the library.

“The library is a very important institution in our community, providing resources for a lifetime of learning and personal growth,” said O’Brien, who is also a Manhasset-Lakeville Fire and Water District commissioner and is active with the American Legion Post 304 of Manhasset.

If elected, Su said she would look to stretch available spending dollars – about 80 percent of the library’s operating budget is comprised of employee salaries and benefits – while seeking to invest in technology.

Su has participated in the Shelter Rock Elementary School Decision Making Team, the Manhasset School District’s Citizens Advisory Committee for Finance, the Chinese American Association of North Hempstead and the Manhasset School Community Association’s Education Committee.

“I realized I wasn’t very good at coaching Little League or the soccer team, so I thought to serve the community on as many boards as I could,” Su said.

Harvey, a Munsey Park resident for the last six years who has brokered deals with the New York Genome Inc. and the Big East Conference, said that for the library to thrive in the future, the board must base its decisions on children being an equal demographic being served, as they make up a major component of the library’s programming.

“Look, the library is always going to be about books, but we have to think about where we’re going to be in the digital age,” he said. “I have DVD here in front of me. Ten years ago, it was a videotape. Books are on CD, 10 years ago they were on tape.”

Reach reporter Bill San Antonio by e-mail at bsanantonio@theislandnow.com, by phone at 516.307.1045 x215 and on Twitter @ Bill_SanAntonio. Also follow us on Twitter @theislandnow and Facebook at facebook.com/theislandnow.

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