BY CHERYL SLAVIN
With voter turnout at a record high of over 1,200, candidates Ralph Sabatini, David Zuckerberg and Jeff Sasson won decisive victories as newly elected New City Library trustees. After all the absentee ballots were counted, Sabatini won 873 votes, Zuckerberg 835 and Sasson 812, according to library business manager Jim Collins. Over 1,100 ballots were also cast on the combined New City and West Nyack budget. It passed by a margin of 792 to 303, and does not include any increases.
Previous elections at times did not even reach more than 400 voters in all. “The huge voter turnout reflects the community’s deep interest in the library,” director Mitch Freedman stated in his monthly report. “On behalf of the administration and staff, I will do my utmost to welcome (the new trustees).”
The official count took several days to finalize. The library uses old fashioned paper ballots for its elections, which ends up prolonging the counting process even before accounting for absentee ballots, Collins stated. He hopes that by next year there will be a more modern system in place.
Sasson comes to the library with experience as the president of the Congers Civic Association and a history of family volunteerism. As vice president of Experience Integration at Liberty Science Center he has demonstrated commitment to education, and views the local library as an “educational extension” of the community. He decided to run for trustee after attending many board meetings and seeing the need for a change in leadership.
Zuckerberg, a former trustee of the Ramapo Catskill Library System, also brings his leadership in business, science and education—he is an adjunct professor at Dominican College—to the New City board. As an RCLS trustee, he had the opportunity to visit dozens of libraries all around the region and learn about the assorted issues a library board can face. When he learned that the New City board was experiencing difficulties, he began to attend meetings, and was subsequently inspired to run for trustee when the vacancies arose. He hopes to bring greater transparency to board functions and decisions, and more respectful inclusiveness overall.
The 2011 GOP candidate for Clarkstown supervisor, Ralph Sabatini has “extensive experience in finance, accounting, information systems, purchasing and administration which will be placed at the disposal of the Library Director,” according to his statement posted on the library website. He is a CPA and has served as Chief Financial Officer for three separate companies. He plans to use his background in finance to help keep library costs down even while increasing library programs and services.
With the election of new trustees, many hope that the in-fighting that has characterized the board for the past few years will be over. All three winners had been endorsed by the New City Library Watch, a private organization created to publicize the actions of the library board and increase participation in the election of trustees. After reviewing the credentials of all of the nominees, according to member Maryann Bloomfeld, the Watch selected these three candidates as the most qualified, bringing a combination of expertise in business, finance, education, the arts and civic service.
“When over 1,200 people come out on a cold, wintry day to vote for trustees, you know that their library is very important to them,” the Watch stated on its website.
The officers for the new board will be selected at the December 19 meeting, which is open to the public. The new trustees will not participate in the selection. They will be officially seated at the January 16 2014 meeting. The departing trustees are Jeff Greenberg, Matt Mulrooney and Board President Tom Ninan.