Fate of library’s Nominating Committee in the hands of the voters

Robert Pelaez
The Great Neck Library's annual election will take place on Oct. 25. (Photos courtesy of the Great Neck Library)

Residents of the Great Neck peninsula and parts of New Hyde Park will head to the polls on Monday to cast their votes for members of the Great Neck Library Board of Trustees and Nominating Committee, along with a proposed law that would eliminate the committee.

Kim Schader and Donald Panetta are running for the seat currently held by board President Weihua Han, who is retiring from his position. Schader is a social media content creator while Panetta, a former member of the Nominating Committee, is a retired financial and sales analyst.

Schader, during a “Meet the Candidates Night” held by the library two weeks ago, touted the “new energy and perspective” she would bring to the board. She also said that “the library created a meaningful connection” with the community during the coronavirus pandemic.

Panetta, who was endorsed by the Nominating Committee along with former committee members and trustees, said he feels his endorsement is reflective of the entire library community, rather than just the five-member committee.

“…the Nominating Committee is a subsection of the library, therefore I assume that the library endorsed me,” he said during the event.

Panetta also touted his work as a financial analyst as to why he would make an effective trustee .

Incumbent Trustee Barry Smith is running for re-election against independent candidate Douglas Hwee. Smith, who was also endorsed by the committee, is a hospital physician and instructor of emergency medicine. Smith, during the event, said he will seek to be the president of the board if re-elected. Working with the Great Neck school district and continuous work on capital improvement projects will also be of importance to him.

Smith also said he will look to strengthen the relationships within the library, its departments and th​​e community it serves. Smith also touted the diversity throughout the community and stressed the need to stop the division that is sometimes felt.

“I believe that trust and transparency between members is crucial for success, for without this we fail not only to ourselves but also to the Great Neck community that has entrusted us with this task,” Smith said. “I will seek to promote a better relationship between the director, the administrative staff, the library staff and the Board of Trustees. I believe that as a community we deserve it to each other for us all to work together for common goals.”

Hwee, who is employed by the Williston Park Department of Public Works, said he wants to “assure fiscal responsibility and better transparency with public and private funds” if elected. He said that he would push to expand the library’s STEM lab and increase arts and crafts programs for children.

Hwee, a former library trustee, was removed from his position following a vote by the rest of the board in 2017 for undisclosed reasons.

For the Nominating Committee positions, Kate Berman is being challenged by independent candidate Sara Rivka Khodadaian, a preschool teacher’s assistant, for the seat currently held by William Gens. Josie Pizer, an education consultant, is running unopposed for Francine Ferrante Krupski’s post. Gens and Krupski are also retiring.

In addition to the slate of candidates, there is a proposal to amend the library by-laws to eliminate the Nominating Committee. Advocates of this change want to shift the selection of trustee candidates from the panel to the overall community.

For residents who live north of Northern Boulevard, in-person voting will take place on Monday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. at the Main Library located at 159 Bayview Ave. For residents who live south of Northern Boulevard, voting will take place at the same time at the Parkville Branch at 10 Campbell St. in New Hyde Park.

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