Library election, budget vote on April 2

The South Country Library will host its annual budget vote and trustee election on Tuesday, April 2. Interested voters can cast a ballot from 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the library Community Room. Applications for absentee ballots are available online. Every voter must be registered, as with any election, either in person at Suffolk County Board of Elections, by calling 631-852-4554 to request a voter application, or by downloading a form from http://www.suffolkvotes.com.

The budget vote will either approve or reject a $2,639,157 appropriation for the library. There are three seats open for trustee and three candidates are running. Winning candidates are installed at the May 16 board meeting. The term is three years.

The following statements were submitted by each candidate and have only been edited for clarity and length.

June A. Johnson

I am currently a trustee of the library. I have lived in East Patchogue since 1973. My children attended the schools in the South Country School District. I worked as a school social worker in this district and retired in 2006. From when the library was a small house on Bellport Lane to its present building on Station Road, the library has been a “jewel in the crown” for us and all users. Because of this, I decided to run for a trustee position years ago. It’s a position that I am proud of and from which I have learned much regarding the role of a library in an active, vibrant area that is rich in ethnic and socioeconomic diversity. I think of the South Country Community as a microcosm of large cities throughout the United States. Over the years I have seen the evolution of the library as a community center that brings children, teens and adults together in various programs, workshops and entertainment not offered in other venues. It is no longer that place where one has to tiptoe, stay silent and look for information and/or book sought.  It is no longer the place where one just goes, if need be, for research. Our library is vibrant with activity(ies) throughout the year. As a board member, I have been part of the hiring of the current director and assistant director. As a board member, I have worked collaboratively with wonderful, intelligent and kind colleagues. The library is a large “business” operation that needs constant attention and care. I look forward to meeting with other trustees as we talk and present our ideas for ongoing best practices in library services to the community.

Joann Neal

I am currently a library trustee and board president with nearly 30 years of experience and involvement with the library board. I received my degree in psychology after raising a family and working as a caseworker at St. Christopher-Ottilie Children’s Services. I have been the recipient of former Sen. Tom Croci’s Black History Month award and have also been honored as the Long Island Advance’s Woman of the Year. I have served on multiple boards including the Bellport Hagerman East Patchogue Alliance, South Country School Board and South Country Education Foundation. I also helped establish the Bellport Boy & Girls Club Steel Drum Band and have worked with the Habitat for Humanity family selection committee, the Bellport community garden and I am also an active member of our local Pilot Club.

I have remained steadfastly dedicated to excellent library service for all of the district’s residents.  I am committed to expanding the multiple levels of library services including technology, programs, workshop, materials and community outreach to all of the South Country population.  I am extremely proud of the positive contribution that the library has made to the community during my tenure as a trustee and I look forward to working with our excellent current library administrators to continue these vital contributions.

Jack Nix

I worked at the South Country Library for nearly five years — starting as a page, moving up to circulation clerk, and then running the outreach program to assist our community’s homebound population. I am a graduate of St. Joseph’s College with a B.A. in sociology and political science, and a member of the Pi Gamma Mu International Honor Society in Social Sciences. During my time at St. Joseph’s College, I developed a thesis that I then presented at the New York State Sociological Association in Rochester, N.Y., the Eastern Sociological Society in Philadelphia, Pa., and the American Sociological Association in Montreal, QC. In 2017, I ran for the South Country Central School District Board of Education, and was elected to a three-year term, which I am currently serving. On the school board, I have made it a priority to advocate for students, teachers and the community as a whole. Bringing live-streaming to the board meetings, increasing communication, and working to advance the perception of the school district have been goals that I have accomplished and continue to work passionately on during my year and half on the board. I am running for the library board to work with the current trustees in continuing the greatness of the South Country Library, and to bring it to new horizons. It would be my great pleasure to return to the library from a different point of view, and help make the South Country Library the best it can be for our community.

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