Written by Pat Grace Friday, 09 April 2010 00:00
In years past “apathetic” would aptly describe the community’s involvement in their library trustee elections. But residents are not solely to blame—the elections are always uncontested. The pattern has often been that a trustee leaves mid-term and a replacement is appointed who eventually runs as the incumbent. It is common knowledge that an incumbent has an advantage, however, if no one decides to compete for the position, what does it matter? Apathy is reflected in the budget hearings as well. Held prior to the budget vote, they draw, on a good year, maybe six residents.
In 2005-06, the year the budget failed by 7 votes, a total of 477 residents voted. That year the board consisted of library director Marian Robertson, library director for over 20 years, president Senetta Koch, vice president Carol Ascrizzi, financial secretary Frank Hone and trustees Seval LaRocca and James Pelzer. That year Jim Pelzer ran uncontested for trustee and received 356 votes.
This year Pelzer’s term expires, he has decided not to seek another 5-year term, has announced his decision before the actual vote, and for the first time in many years, four neighbors are vying for the position. Current candidates for trustee had the option of declaring for the 5-year term being vacated by Jim Pelzer or finishing the 2 years remaining on Frank Hone’s term to which Joseph T. Vogel had been appointed. All individuals selected the 5-year term, thus Vogel is running uncontested as the incumbent for that trustee position.
So Manhasset has a contested election. In the past five years, while neighboring communities have often held robust elections with many candidates, the Manhasset Library trustee elections were perfunctory.
The 2006-07 budget passed by 41 votes with a total of 1,379 votes cast. Richard Tortora received 1,011 votes for library trustee replacing Senetta Koch in an uncontested election.
In 2007-08 there were 645 votes cast and the budget passed by 157 votes. Francis J. Hone was re-elected library trustee. He received
515 votes. Following the April elections in 2007 Carol Ascrizzi, at that time a trustee, tendered her letter of resignation effective June 19, 2007, at the close of the library board meeting. To complete the term of office vacated by Ascrizzi, at the library board meeting on July 10, 2007, the trustees appointed Heidi McNamara for a term that would expire June 30, 2008.
In the 2008-09 budget vote and trustee election 534 votes were cast and the budget passed by 178 votes with incumbent Heidi McNamara receiving 446 votes. That year library trustees were James E. Pelzer, president; Seval LaRocca, vice president; Francis J. Hone, financial secretary; Richard Tortora, trustee and Heidi McNamara, trustee.
The 2009-10 budget season and trustee election again had one open trustee position. That year trustee Seval LaRocca submitted her resignation in July, after which it was said the board approached several individuals to fill out her term, but, while interested, the individuals did not have the time to dedicate to the position. Feb. 9, 2009 the board appointed Elisa Paone to complete LaRocca’s term, and Paone ran in April as the incumbent trustee. That year, trustees, with dates their five-year terms expire were: James E. Pelzer (2010); Richard Tortora (2011); Frank Hone (2012); and Heidi McNamara (2013 For the 2009-10 vote, 490 votes were cast and the budget passed by 172 votes. Elisa Paone received 407 “yes” votes and 83 “no” votes.
Which brings the 2010-11 library vote and trustee election into focus. Trustee Frank Hone moved to Port Washington making him ineligible to continue as a library trustee, and Joseph T. Vogel was appointed to fill the remainder of Hone’s term. The library honored Hone with a champagne toast in the Community Room of the library on Sunday, Nov. 22, 2009 for his many years of dedicated service.
The “Meet the Candidates” evening is scheduled on Monday, April 19 and the actual vote occurs on Wednesday, April 21, therefore, the Manhasset Press cannot report on the event as the paper will be delivered after the vote on Thursday, April 22. Mark your calendar to meet the candidates and ask your questions on Monday, April 19.
And don’t forget to vote on April 21 in Manhasset’s contested library trustee election!