Woodstock Library voters will choose from nine candidates running for five trustee slots and vote yes or no on a budget carrying a 3 percent levy increase for the next year, on Library election day, noon-9 p.m., with voting taking place at the Library, 5 Library Lane.
Four of the nine candidates are running to remain as trustees, while the fifth seat is held by President Doris Goldberg, who is not seeking re-election. Four are relatively new to the board.
Below are their backgrounds, skills and wishes for the coming year. In the interest of fairness, candidates are listed in alphabetical order.
Each candidate was given the same questions and allowed to respond in writing. Some chose to write more than others.
Rebecca Daniels is running for the Board of Trustees for the first time. She is retired and the former owner of a small business called Writers’ Support Service. She has three children and five grandchildren. Born in New York City, she received her Bachelor’s Degree in English from Queens College and her Master’s in Educational Psychology from California State University. Daniels moved to Woodstock in 1974 from Manhattan.
Daniels hopes her communication skills and energy can be an asset to the board.
“When my enthusiasm is applied to a particular project it is contagious, which makes me an excellent PR person,” she said. “When I managed a fundraiser for The Hunger Project, almost a million dollars was raised. I am highly organized and have experience in financial management and volunteer enrollment/training. I am a creative problem solver and work well with others.”
Daniels is already familiar with the workings of the library as a current member of the book committee and as a cashier at the weekend book sales.
She has also given her time elsewhere in the community, having volunteered for WAAM, the Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild and the Woodstock Historical Society. Daniels also used to paint and show her work locally, but writing poetry is now her primary creative outlet.
Daniels said it is important that the board engage the community so that they support the update to the Master Plan, which will address space needs.
“This plan should be affordable, make improvements to the existing structure and provide much needed space for library materials and resources,” she said, adding community services such as children’s programs, adult classes and forums are equally important.
Daniels said she wants to serve on the board because she’s loved libraries since she was a child and wants to give back to the town.
“This is a pivotal time for the library to actually implement some necessary changes,” Daniels said.
“There is a rising tide of interest and enthusiasm for making improvements to the existing structure. Having lived here since 1974, I understand how Woodstock works. I have the connections and communication skills to reach a lot of people and to bring us together with a common vision.”
Daniels said she likes the library’s small-town look with its lawn and gardens.
“I love the librarians!” she said. “I like being able to order materials easily online and pick them up a couple of days later. I like attending forums that are free and open to the public as well as writing classes.”
But there is room for improvement.
Inside, the library feels “cluttered, crowded and a bit dreary,” she said. “More space and better lighting would improve things.”
George Finsrud, appointed to fill a vacant seat, is running for he first elected term. Born in Brooklyn, Finsrud attended the School of Visual Arts and Hunter College. He has lived in Woodstock for 32 years. He is a designer and builder. Finsrud has a son who is a language scholar and studying in Beijing.
Finsrud said he has worked with various sized groups that “brought forth remarkable results” and can bring that experience to the board.
In his free time, Finsrud hosts a weekly conference call for Landmark Worldwide graduates on the work of philosopher Michel Foucault. He is also part of the content development team for the 2017 Conference for Global Transformation in Monterrey, California.
So far, Finsrud is impressed with the work the board has done in his year as trustee.
“We’ve removed the old laundromat at a very reasonable price,” he said. “That area is now flourishing with a healthy lawn along the stream.” He also noted the board has hired a team of architects for the Master Plan update that will look at the library “through the points of view given by the community as to what works and what doesn’t with the aim of putting together a set of plans and options for moving ahead in a coherent manner.”
In the coming year, the board needs to finish the Master Plan process and that it needs to include involvement from the community.
“I like working with people who are committed to something greater than themselves,” Finsrud said when asked why he wants to continue to serve on the board. “I like the people who are associated with the library, both patrons and staff, I like the values that are associated with libraries and I like what libraries make available. I see my job as a trustee to facilitate all three of those likes.”
What he dislikes is when the board gets set in their ways.
“All organizations have a culture or ‘way of doing things’ that becomes entrenched over time,” Finsrud said.
Tamara (Tammy) Katzowitz is running for her first time on the board. Katzowitz, a retired educator and adjunct professor, received her Bachelor’s Degree from Monmouth University and a Master’s in Library Science from SUNY Albany. She has lived in Woodstock for 38 years.
She serves as a volunteer for the annual Library Fair.
Katzowitz hopes to use her knowledge of libraries to “encourage trustees to work together.” The top priority for the coming year is to “encourage focusing on what is good for the community,” Katzowitz said.
She said she wants to serve on the board because she is dedicated to her community. She likes that the library is the “nucleus of the community,” but feels it is too small for the needs of its patrons.
David (Dave) Lewis was also appointed to fill a vacant seat and is now running for his first elected term.
Lewis, a high school science teacher, is married to Loida and has four children, Keyla, Vicky, David and Grace.
Born in New York City, Lewis received his Bachelor’s in Natural Resources from Cornell University and his Master’s in Science Education from Columbia University. Lewis moved to Woodstock in 1988, then left to serve in the Peace Corps.
Lewis said he brings a fresh perspective as he is the only member of his generation serving on the board.
“As a professional educator, I am already familiar with the Board of Regents who governs both high schools and libraries. I am also bilingual, so I would be able to translate library materials to Spanish,” he said.
He is also interested in bringing more technology into the library. “Many libraries are creating maker spaces that include programs, such as robotics and coding,” Lewis said. “I am currently heading a robotics club at the school that I work for and would be interested in seeking funding to create a similar program at our library.”
In his free time, Lewis plays guitar, bass, and drums. “I write my own music and I am currently collaborating with other local musicians to start a funk band,” he said. Lewis also enjoys hiking, camping and attending church.
Lewis said he has enjoyed working with the new library director, Janet Dymond, “who has impressed me with her creative ideas and her dedication to our library.”
But he said there is some amount of discord.
“During the first few meetings I attended, there was considerable tension between several board members that prevented the group from being productive. I have seen, however, an improvement in the tension during recent meetings,” he said.
The top priority for next year is the financial audit included in the proposed budget, he said.
“The library’s finances haven’t been audited for seven years, and, as I was informed by the Mid-Hudson Library Services New Trustee Workshop, financial audits should be undertaken on a yearly or biyearly basis,” Lewis said. “In fact, yearly financial audits will soon be considered to be a minimum standard for all Mid-Hudson libraries.”
Lewis said he wants to serve on the board because he wants to “represent the views and opinions of Woodstockers from my generation, since we have been unrepresented on the board for a long time.”
Added Lewis, “I’d also like to see Woodstock move forward with its library projects by creating a feasible master facilities plan that represents both the values and aesthetics of the town.”
Lewis likes that the library offers many free services such as book and DVD lending, story time, library forum presentations, and internet access to patrons.
But Lewis said the space is too small and cluttered for all the activities.
Lewis said he is flattered by a recent endorsement from the Committee for a Better Library’s endorsement but wants to make it clear he is running an independent campaign and has not endorsed any other candidates.
John Ludwig, who was elected to a one-year term last year, is seeking re-election. An electrical engineer with IBM for 38 years, Ludwig was born in Detroit and has a Master’s in Electrical Engineering from the University of Michigan. He has lived in Woodstock for 38 years. Ludwig served on the Planning Board for 12 years with the last three as chairman.
Ludwig hopes to continue to use his experience at IBM collaborating on many projects to benefit the board. Ludwig said his service on the Planning Board “gave me an appreciation for the value and importance of good planning to any project, large or small.”
Ludwig said he wants everyone to have a voice in how the library serves its residents.
In his spare time, Ludwig cultivates tropical plants from “bulbs that flower in the winter without water or soil, and then spend half their lives in the ground during the summer,” something he learned to appreciate from his father, who gave him a bulb in 1978 that has reproduced plants each year.
Ludwig said he was satisfied that the board adopted a smoke-free policy.
“It’s been many years since ‘smoke-free environment’ became the norm at schools, libraries and government buildings, so why are we not smoke-free?,” he said. “I was pleased that the (policy) committee and the whole board adopted a smoke-free policy for the library with little debate earlier this year.”
The top priority for the next year is to complete the Master Plan “that will carry the library through the next 20 years,” Ludwig said.
Ludwig said he wants to continue to serve because “volunteering with any local organization is a good way to feel connected to the community.”
Ludwig said he likes that the library has a “rich history in the community that everyone appreciates.”
However, the air quality is an issue, he said. “Public buildings should have efficient air circulation systems.”
Joseph (Joe) Mangan is running for his first time, but is no stranger to the library board’s process. Mangan served on the Facilities Task Force and before that, attended many board meetings during the tumultuous time when a proposed annex on the former laundromat parcel was hotly debated.
Mangan, a retired professional engineer, was born in Newburgh and has two grown children. He has a Bachelor’s in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Clarkson University. He has lived in Woodstock for 38 years.
Mangan hopes his experience as chief engineer, chief operating officer and member of the board of directors of a large architectural and engineering firm can bring a “wealth of experience in master planning, construction expertise and financial management of building renovation as well as new construction.”
In his free time, Mangan likes to go biking on rail trails, read, travel, manage investments and “occasionally play the banjo badly.”
Mangan said the top goal for next year is “developing as much consensus as possible regarding the library’s mission for the next 10 to 20 years and creating a facilities master plan to support that mission.”
Mangan said he wants to serve because he now has the time. His work schedule had prevented serving on local boards in the past.
Mangan said the staff is “great” and the programs and energy are “admirable.”
The negatives are the building’s condition and lack of space, he said.
Barry Miller is the longest-serving member of the board, having amassed 15 years. He is the board treasurer and co-chair of the Policy Committee.
Miller, who was born in Brooklyn, is a graphic designer by trade and was also an art therapist. He had his own leather craft business, designing and making leather goods for 25 years. He worked for Kingston City Schools as a substitute teacher for 15 years and taught full-time in the subjects of art, special education, architecture, industrial arts, video and technical drawing.
He has used his graphic arts expertise to design many of the event flyers for the library.
He has a Bachelor’s from Parsons School of Design and Master’s in Education from SUNY New Paltz. Miller has lived in Woodstock for 35 years.
Miller said he has a broad knowledge of how libraries work and what 21st Century library should be. Miller produces a monthly show distributed on YouTube that highlights events at the library and features interviews with local writers and avid readers.
In his spare time, Miller likes to play music with friends. He also enjoys photography, graphics and videography.
Miller’s favorite experience on the board was as liaison to the Friends of the Library when he designed the Library Fair posters and was in charge of the fair’s music. But those 15 years aren’t all rosy.
“An experience that I’m not too happy about is the barrage of attacks at the library by community members who want things changed the way they want it without any real knowledge of how libraries work,” Miller said. “Backseat drivers can be disruptive. Opinions are fine but facts and details are more important.”
Miller said the Master Plan is top priority next year so the library has the space it needs for the programs to serve its patrons.
Miller said he wants to continue to serve on the board because “I have always loved books and libraries. I believe all my life experience and work experience has given me very important skills that I have used, can use and will use to help the library become a better library for our community.”
He likes that the library “is a friendly place to go to. It has an enormous range of programs from things for Toddlers to events for seniors. The Woodstock Library has a very friendly and helpful staff.” The need for space, he said, is his only complaint.
Kenneth (Ken) Panza, a former town councilman, is running for his first time for the library board.
Panza was born in Somerville, Mass., and has two grown children and one grandchild. He has a Bachelor’s in Electrical Engineering and a Master’s in Business Administration from the University of Illinois. His wife, Marcia, is the nurse at Woodstock Elementary School. They have lived in Woodstock for about 40 years.
Panza believes his background in finance and project planning can make him a “strong contributor to the library reaching its goals.”
Panza said he fully supports the recommendations of the Facilities Task Force, which said the library should update its Master Plan.
“Next year will be an important year for the Library Board to commit to improving and renovating the Library,” Panza said. “Now, more than ever, it’s important to have a board that supports the Facilities Task Force recommendations and is willing to work with the public to create a Library Master Plan.”
Panza noted many surveys, focus groups and meetings that have concluded “The Library should take care of what we already have.”
Panza has attended most library board meetings since 2014 and said he has an understanding of how the board operates.
Elizabeth (Liz) Rosen is running for the board for the first time.
Rosen, a retired CFO of the Morgan Library in Manhattan, was born in Westchester County and attended St. Francis College and Long Island University. She has lived in Woodstock for 16 years.
She is president of Staying in Place, a peer self help group for seniors who wish to remain in the community.
Rosen served as treasurer of Friends of the Library for more than 10 years.
At the Morgan Library, Rosen managed accounting, management information systems, human resources and merchandising with combined budgets of more than $2 million. She was in charge of benefits and payroll for 130 employees.
The top goal next year is to “restore civil discourse about the Library’s future, with and between all three constituencies, community, board, and staff,” Rosen said, and “agree upon future goals and complete master plan in order to proceed to the next step — implementation.”
Said Rosen, “public Libraries are as central to our democracy as a free press.”
Libraries, at one time, were only for the elite. It wasn’t until the end of the 19th Century that they became available to all, she said.
“I feel it’s an institution to be treasured and nurtured.”
In addition to choosing trustees, voters will be asked to approve a $599,616 spending plan that calls for a 3 percent tax levy increase.
Spending is down by 5 percent, but the levy is up because trustees decided not to use the fund balance, or money left over from previous years, to offset taxes.
Under the proposed budget, employees will receive a 2 percent raise, but that cost is offset in other areas, such as asking staff to contribute more to health insurance costs.
About $6,000 is built into the budget for a comprehensive audit, something the library hasn’t completed since 2010. It’s expensive, but is seen as a transparency issue, according to Director Janet Dymond.
The spending plan also includes more funds for newer books and more materials for adult programs. More money will go to cleaning contractors to patrons have a better experience.
The proposed tax levy is $565,566, an increase of $16.378, but as Dymond and trustees point out, the difference amounts to $3.67, or about 31 cents per month, for a home valued at $300,000.
Voting is Thursday, September 1 from noon to 9 p.m. at the library. Remember it is on a Thursday, as opposed to most other elections, which are held on Tuesdays.
All registered voters in Woodstock are eligible to cast a ballot in the library election.
Based on recent data, Woodstock has about 4,400 registered voters. Over the last several years, the library election has averaged just shy of 400 votes, or less than a 10 percent turnout.
People can reverse that statistic and have a say in how their library runs by casting a ballot next Thursday.