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This year the Port Washington Library will be filling three seats on its board of trustees. Two of the positions are for the five-year terms, which expire in June, of Lee Aitken and Andrea Watson. Ms. Watson will not seek re-election, but Mr. Aitken will run again. The other available seat is the one left vacant by the passing of Trustee Everett Brenner earlier this year. That will be a four-year term. The library budget vote and trustee election will be held Tuesday, April 11, from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the Port Washington Public Library, One Library Drive.

Port News asked all of the candidates to send us their bios and asked them to tell us why they're running and what kind of a difference do they feel they could make if elected. Here's what they wrote.

Lee Aitken

I am a Port Washington attorney and a two-term member of the board of trustees of the Port Washington Public Library, first elected in 1996. As a lifelong resident of Port Washington, I am actively involved in community and civic affairs, having served as president of both the Cow Neck Historical Society and the Lions Club of Port Washington.

I consider reading my favorite form of entertainment and walking to the library from my Mackey Avenue home my favorite form of exercise, but my principal reason for seeking another term is my strong belief in the broad service the library provides to Port Washington residents. The library is the center of cultural and intellectual life of Port Washington as well as a basic educational resource. It has served me and my family well throughout the years; I consider it a great privilege to help the library continue to play a leading role in community life.

I was admitted to the New York State Bar in 1976 after graduating from Brown University and Albany Law School. I have maintained law offices in Port Washington since 1978 and am a principal of Ressa & Aitken, 33 Main Street, Port Washington. I continue as a trustee of the Cow Neck Historical Society and Port Washington Lions Club. I am also a member of the New York State Maritime Preservation Historical Committee.

Myron Blumenfeld

I think we have a great library, really a community center, with its art gallery, concerts, senior activities as well as children's and teen programs. The support the library receives from the "Friends of the Library" and the volunteers on the five library council boards is an enormous asset. All of these are enhanced by a dedicated and knowledgeable staff of professionals who stand ready to assist the community. But even a great library can be made better.

As chairman of the library Children's Advisory Council, I have urged that the open space to the west of the library be made safe and accessible to the children's library and the public auditorium. I have a plan of how this could be accomplished without raising taxes. The council has added many new children's programs and workshops using private funding. I founded the library Health Information Council in 1998, so I know the senior health activity programs should be expanded to accommodate all who wish to participate.

As a senior citizen on a fixed income and a member of the Port community and a library activist for 40 years, I am especially aware of the need to control and limit any increase in our tax burden.

I graduated from Syracuse University and received a master's degree from NYU. I founded Residents for a More Beautiful Port Washington and I am now chairman emeritus.

Nancy Comer

The Port Washington Public Library has played a significant role in our family life during the 30-plus years we have lived in Port Washington. We've benefited greatly from the resources and programs offered by this cultural and educational hub of our community and enjoy showing it off to all and sundry. Why not give something back?

I've served on two library committees, gaining insight into the organization's strengths and into areas where I could contribute to that strength. I'm committed to maintaining and adding to the high quality and depth of services offered by our library - without placing an undue burden on the taxpayer. I was instrumental in conceiving and implementing a special reading program targeting developmentally disabled adults, with the able and enthusiastic support of the library administration and staff. Called "Books for Dessert," the program is largely funded by grants. If elected, I anticipate developing similar self-sustaining programs for other underserved segments of our community. At the same time, through my professional background and experience serving on other not-for-profit boards, I have learned many ways to keep costs under control and develop creative methods to fund projects.

Professionally, I own and run a magazine consulting group that is now test-launching, an online magazine for sophisticated, educated women. Our company's clients include The New York Times, for which we've produced a number of special sections, including their major holiday supplement, The Best of the Season. As the founding managing editor and health editor of Mirabella magazine, I received the American Medical Association's President's Award for an article I wrote on women and smoking. I was also editor-in-chief of YM magazine; executive editor of Self magazine and a senior editor and feature writer at Mademoiselle. I am past chair of the board of directors of the Greater New York City affiliate of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation and served on the advisory board of the Eating Disorders Task Force for the U.S. Office of Women's Health. A resident of Port Washington for 33 years, I'm a member of the Port Washington Public Library's Health Advisory Council; co-founder and advisory board chair of the library's "Books for Dessert" program for developmentally disabled adults; co-founder and co-chair of the Baxter's Pond Foundation; co-founder, Port Washington SEPTA (Special Education PTA); a member of the long-range planning committee and the business advisory council for Community Mainstreaming Associates; and former board member of the Town of North Hempstead Community Development Agency. I earned a B.S. in Fine Art and Art Education from Skidmore College and my husband and I raised our three children in Port Washington - and in the library.

Robert Ferro

I have worked in the publishing industry for the past 30 years with experience on the financial and operational side of the business. In the past five years I ran the leading art technique, photography and performing art book publisher. Prior to taking on the operational experience I was the financial vice president of a billion dollar magazine company. I have been battle tested by serving on the Port Washington School Board for three years.

I do not believe that any one person makes a difference on a board because it requires a majority to get things done.

I have lived in Port Washington for the past 12 years with my wife of 20 years and four children. I have experience both on the financial and the operation end of publishing. I have 30 years of publishing experience from developing new magazines to running a book company.

John O'Connell

The library is the heartbeat of Port Washington. The library board of trustees has faced many challenges and made many tough decisions in the 10 years I have lived in Port Washington. It oversaw an ambitious but thoughtful building expansion. It planned and delivered a badly needed parking lot enlargement. And it has deftly handled increases in things like fuel costs and state-imposed employee-retirement mandates over which it has had no control, yet still found the wiggle room to increase the budget line for books while keeping overall budget increases low. Not everything it has done has pleased everyone, of course, but it is my firm view that the board has consistently listened closely; deliberated carefully; responded thoughtfully; and acted responsibly.

As a frequent user and neighbor of the library - and the only candidate (other than our incumbent) who attended all of this year's public budget hearings - I am very familiar with the challenges that face the board today. I also am a member of the library visioning committee, which is working with the library staff to develop a long-term plan for the library's future. I am grateful for the role the library plays in my life, as well as that of my wife and three school-age children. It would be an honor to serve the community through our great shared resource, the PWPL.

I am well-prepared and qualified to continue the efforts of the current library board while seeking to fine tune the crucial role the library plays in our community. I am an attorney who currently works for a major financial services firm. I also spent six years in the information technology field before attending Columbia Law. I believe I can bring my legal, business, financial and technology backgrounds to bear as library trustee. I am a strong problem-solver, listener and negotiator who currently manages more than 50 people. I understand what it means to design a budget and then live within it.

I am an Attorney and Vice President with Goldman, Sachs & Co.

Mike Pollack

I am an avid consumer of numerous library services. I am running for trustee because I believe it is vital to the community that the library trustees ensure that the library maintains and enhances the outstanding services currently provided while remaining sensitive to the financial concerns of Port Washington residents.

If elected as a library trustee I would encourage community input and apply my skills as a good listener, problem-solver, team player and consensus builder to help the library meet its upcoming challenges.

I am a 33-year resident of Port Washington and have been an officer and/or board member of six different national, state, and local not-for-profit entities including the presidency of two of the organizations. I was a corporate executive and legal counsel for more than 35 years, including 23 years as a general counsel. During the past year I served on the Library Planning Committee, arranged for a free six-session retirement program at the library and I am working with Executive Director Nancy Curtin to secure foundation funding for a planned Lifelong Learning Program. Logo
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