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Meet the Candidates for the IT Library Trustee Positions

On Tuesday, April 27 from 1 to 9 p.m. residents of the Island Trees School District will vote on the Island Trees Public Library budget as well as choose two trustees for the two open positions. One trustee position is for a one-year term, the other is for a five-year term. The election is at-large and the candidate who receives the most votes will attain the five-year position and the candidate with the second most votes will hold the one-year position.

The Levittown Tribune asked the incumbent trustee Donnalee Dugle, and the other two candidates, John Mikulin and Gerald Schmotzer the same questions. Their answers are below in alphabetical order.

Tribune: Why are you running for trustee?

Dugle: I have been a trustee for the past 12 years, and have been committed to providing the best possible library services our community can afford. I have worked hard to guarantee transparency and accountability in our decision-making. I have made every effort to keep the cost to the community as low as possible, even before these hard economic times. ITPL has one of the lowest budgets in Nassau County, while providing outstanding services and continually responding to the changing needs of our community. The development of an employee union, and current contract negotiations could significantly impact the library’s finances. The experience and knowledge I have acquired as trustee, is advantageous to the negotiation process. I look forward to the opportunity to continue to protect the taxpayers’ interests.

Mikulin: I am running for trustee because the Island Trees Library is the hub of our community and I want to give back to the institution that has given so much to me over the years.

Schmotzer: I now have the time and feel I can be of some small service to my community.

Tribune: What background do you have that you feel will make you an asset to the library?

Dugle: I have spent the last 25 years volunteering in my community. I have become skilled at working with others to set, and accomplish realistic goals, plan for the future, work within economic constraints, with government regulations, and representatives and above all protect the interests of our community. I have developed an extensive knowledge of our budgetary process as well as the civil service laws and regulations, which will give me an advantage at the negotiation table.

Mikulin: I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science and government, cum laude, and am finishing a master’s degree in public administration; both from St. John’s University. This background in government will make me an asset to the library because I understand how the library relates to the State of New York.

Schmotzer: I started as a fire safety director and security chief in a very large office building in Manhattan. I worked my way up to assistant building manager and then building manager. I had a large staff. I was responsible for the cleaning and maintenance staff. The security and office personnel were also my responsibility. I know how a building should be run. I know how an office should be run. I had to stay within my budget guidelines and feel my input along these lines would be helpful.

Tribune: Have you ever held a library position before, whether at Island Trees Library or any other?

Dugle: I have been a trustee of the ITPL for 12 years. I am proud of the advancements I have worked for, such as expanding hours of service, providing programs for our school age children (non existent prior to 1998), promoting the development of our young adult collection and program, revamping our employee policy to better reflect the current job market, while keeping salaries affordable as well as attractive.

Mikulin: I have never held a paid position before but I have volunteered at the library and been a patron, which means that I uniquely understand how the library functions.

Schmotzer: I had a clerk’s position at the Island Trees Library for about six months (five years ago). I worked Monday and Wednesday evenings from 5 to 9 p.m. Being a regular patron, I saw the sign at the front desk saying they needed a clerk. I thought I would enjoy this as I spend so much time at the library. I did enjoy the interaction with the patrons and other members of the community. Being around books, talking about books and other things library related. It was a pleasant experience and only further enhanced my love of library. I’ve never had a bad day at the library. Some other commitments came up and I had to leave. It gave me a feel for how the library is run and the idea that I could help.

Tribune: What are your goals should you be elected trustee?

Dugle: I will work with the newly established employee union to develop a contract that our community can afford. I will continue to work with our director and staff to make sure we are meeting the needs of our community responsibly, and affordably.

Mikulin: My goals are as follows: Add Internet sites to help members of the community do more effective research, control spending, saving taxpayer dollars, coordinate with other agencies to eliminate duplication of services and add e-training services for residents.

Schmotzer: Start a volunteer program to bring books to our housebound seniors. Instill a love of reading in our children and grandchildren in a safe environment. Keep costs down while finding ways to improve services.

Tribune: Where do you live?

Dugle: Levittown

Mikulin: Bethpage.

Schmotzer: Bethpage.

Tribune: Anything you would like to add (briefly).

Dugle: Last year less than 200 of the more than 16,000 residents of Island Trees came out to vote. I have worked long and hard to protect the interests of our community. This vote directly affects your pocket book. I am asking for your support so I can support you. Your vote is your voice.

Mikulin: We need a fiscal watchdog on the library board. For far too long, our library has offered limited services at an increased rate of taxation. It will be my number one priority to keep my eye on our tax dollars, especially those we already have. I will do this as our new library trustee; effectively stretching our hard-earned money spent on the library.

Schmotzer: I am a parent, homeowner and resident of Island Trees for 35 years. I’m an avid reader and lover of books. In these trying economic times I feel we can maintain our library programs for those who need them. Enhance some programs without raising taxes and holding the line on expenses. The devil is in the details and you have to look for the small ways to save money so we don’t lose the big things that make this a wonderful library.