John Drukker would like to finish the job he started. For the past 4 years, Mr. Drukker has served on the seven-member library board, which has given him an opportunity to learn the nuts and bolts of providing guidance and oversight in running a modern library. The library's Nominating Committee has endorsed him for another term. He says that he was a regular library patron who simply decided that after his retirement, he would like to do something meaningful for the library.
Mr. Drukker says, "Libraries today are about more than just books. In 1970, when the current library was built, computers were not a part of everyday life. In addition to providing computer space for research, now we have books on tape, DVDs, courses and lectures, story hours for the children...our needs have grown."
He firmly supports the board's unanimous decision to offer a renovation and expansion plan to the community for referendum that was the most ambitious and expensive of the three choices that were developed. He says, "Plan number one was a band aid approach to our problems." He goes on to explain that while the second plan was good, but did not go far enough to anticipate future needs. Mr. Drukker concluded, "Plan number 3 is a plan for the 21st century and in the big picture is not much more expensive for the individual taxpayer than plan number 2."
Mr. Drukker says, "We're waiting for a green light from the DEC so that we can go forward." No date for a referendum has been set because the library is still awaiting approval for the plan from the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) which regulates construction near designated wetlands. After that an approval must be granted from the Town of North Hempstead and then the date for a referendum can be decided.
Mr. Drukker's professional background is in advertising and marketing. He worked for seven years for General Foods in both their international and domestic branches developing strategies for products ranging from cosmetics to cereals to citrus fruits. He was employed by Chemical Bank for 14 years in a marketing capacity, primarily in the international division and he also consulted for savings and loans markets as well.
He was born and educated in England attending Christ Church, Oxford, where he majored in French and minored in German. After four and a half years in the British Army, where he served for two and a half years in the Middle East, he immigrated to the United States in 1947 and became a citizen in 1950.
He has lived in Great Neck for 48 years where he and his wife, who recently passed away, raised two daughters. In addition to his board work at the library, he has taught Basic English and English as a second language for the Literacy Volunteers of America.
Mr. Drukker is a member of a variation on a book discussion group. Every month, he and several other men meet for lunch at Café Rustica and a lively discussion on an agreed upon topic. For example, this month the subject is the history of the robber barons and each member will have read a different book and will bring different perspectives to the discussion. So while libraries change, offering many avenues to learning, for Mr. Drukker reading a good book remains a genuine pleasure.
(Editor's note: Plan One called for an increase of 6,000 square feet at a cost of $8.5 million; Plan Two had an increase of 16,000 square feet at a cost of $12.6 million; and Plan Three, which was adopted by the board, would add 23,500 square feet at a cost of $15.8 million. Fees for the architectural firm, financing, asbestos abatement, relocation, a new material security system and furniture would add $3 million to the costs of each plan.)
When Norman Rutta was a boy growing up in Queens, every Friday afternoon he and his mother would walk the 10 blocks to the Laurelton Library to pick out books for the weekend. As the family did not watch television on Saturday, these books were the highlight of his weekend entertainment taking him many worlds away from the ordinary. Knowing the importance that a library can play in the life of an individual and the life of a community, he became interested in learning more about the workings of the Great Neck Library board. He is running as an independent candidate.
Mr. Rutta decided to run for the board because he thinks that the board in its deliberations could benefit from a more diverse membership. He says, "With my professional background as a C.P.A. and experience as a commercial real estate developer, I think that I would be able to offer constructive help on fiscal and construction matters especially during this time in which the board is seeking to expand and renovate the main library." He also believes that as a father with young children, he would broaden the perspective of the board by representing the needs and concerns of young families.
In regard to the library expansion, Mr. Rutta notes that at this point the public will make the final decision. He did express some concern that recently the board voted to approve spending $50,000 for a site plan that, if the referendum were defeated, would be lost money. He says, "I would like to see a little more debate on decisions being made; more questions being raised. In attending meetings, I have noticed that when different points of view are raised by members of the audience, the board does not always appear to be responsive." He adds, however, that he is not operating from a negative standpoint and is not looking to just find fault. "I really believe I have something to offer that may be helpful to the board and to the community," he declares.
Mr. Rutta is the founder and managing partner of Rutta & Company, LLP, an accounting firm that has been in business for 17 years and is located in Great Neck. The firm provides services to mid-size businesses and non-profit organizations. He is the owner, developer and manager of commercial real estate on the Island.
Mr. Rutta holds a B.S. from Touro College. He is a member of NYS Society of Certified Public Accountants, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, Great Neck Estates Civic Association and the Great Neck Synagogue.
Mr. Rutta and his wife Michelle have two children, Rebecca, 7, and Ethan, aged 3. Recently, Rebecca received her first library card. Mr. Rutta enjoyed watching her excitement remembering his feeling of being a trusted member of society when he got his first card. He says, "Before I could have a bank account or a credit card I had a library card. Occasionally when I returned a book late, I was responsible for the late fee. Through this structure, I had my earliest sense of being part of a larger group with both privileges and responsibilities."