Four for Three Seats in John Jermain Memorial Library Board Race

John Jermain Memorial Library Sag Harbor
The John Jermain Memorial Library in Sag Harbor. Michael Heller photo

Sag Harbor School District voters will go to the John Jermain Memorial Library at 201 Main Street on Thursday, September 27, from 10 a.m. to 8 vote “yes” or “no” to raising $2.857 million in tax revenues to support the library in 2019 and choose among four candidates to fill three seats on the eight-person Board of Trustees.

The proposed 2019 budget will slightly decrease the current library tax bill for property owners even though spending will be up 3.8 percent in the amount to be raised by taxes compared to the current year’s spending plan.

If the budget is approved, the school district will raise a total of $1,886,721 in tax revenues to support operations in 2019 and $905,000 to pay for servicing the debt on the library’s $16-million expansion project that was completed in 2016, $10 million of which was funded through a successful bond referendum in 2009. The remaining funding for the expansion was paid for through private donations. Another $64,890 for the 2019 budget will be raised through fundraising and grants.

Proposed disbursements for 2019 include $995,553 for salaries, up 2.6 percent; $435,800 for employee benefits and payroll taxes, up 63 percent; $169,380 for library materials and programs, up 23 percent; $185,478 for administrative costs and office expenses, down 3.7 percent; and $165,400 for building and grounds maintenance, down 27 percent.

The school district has projected the tax rate per $1,000 of assessed valuation to support the budget as $.3642 for properties in the Southampton Town part of the district and $61.0648 with an equalization rate of .57 percent in the East Hampton portion of the district or an effective rate of $.348 per $1000.

Four Candidates, Three Seats

Susan Edwards is the only incumbent seeking reelection to the board. Trustees Craig Rhodes will not seek reelection and Carol Hance resigned on June 30.

The Express asked the candidates to answer a few basic questions about themselves and why the want to serve on the board. Here are their answers as submitted:

Susan Edwards

Susan Edwards

I had the pleasure of serving as a trustee on the library board for the past three years, two of which as treasurer. It has been a rewarding and fulfilling experience, and I look forward to the upcoming term and continuing to work with the excellent staff and leadership of John Jermain.

My family story includes a long history here in Sag Harbor — extending now to several generations of library professionals, educators, and public officials. JJML has been a nice fit for me.

After lifelong summer and holiday visits, my husband and I became permanent residents in 2011. Currently, I am a member of the Board of Architectural Review & Historic Preservation for the Village of North Haven; the chair of the Scholarship Committee of the Horticultural Alliance of the Hamptons; and a volunteer with the Peconic Land Trust, Bridge Gardens, Bay Street Theater and a number of other organizations.

Nicholas Knab

Nicholas Knab

I am 19, I belong to the Knab family and the Bartoli family of Sag Harbor. I grew up in Sag Harbor and have lived here my entire life.

I have attended Sag Harbor Elementary and Pierson High School, and am currently attending, as of the fall, my second semester of college at Suffolk County Community College. I am currently part-timing at SagTown coffeehouse, and also contributing to the store Book Hampton in East Hampton occasionally. I am attending Suffolk for a degree in English, and look forward to a bachelor’s in either English or writing.

My connection to the John Jermain Memorial Library has existed ever since childhood. And though I am still young, my experience with the library and at the library has taught me much about the organization and importance of community in and around our local library. I have had a strong relationship with the library and its staff that has only grown with time.

I wish to serve on the board because of my desire to connect to the local community, and embrace the identity of Sag Harbor in a much stronger way than I have before. I also see this as a great opportunity to learn about the form and function of such vital organizations to the community as the local library, and pursue ways in which to get people, especially young people my age, involved in the library.

Elliot Sroka

Elliot Sroka

After 29 years as executive director of Tilles Center for the Performing Arts at Long Island University, I was delighted to retire here with my wife Karen in 2013 (we had been Sag Harbor homeowners, taxpayers, and local voters since 2003).

Having grown up in Cleveland, I took BFA and MFA degrees in drama at Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh. After earning my Ph.D at Stanford, I taught at San Francisco State University and the University of Delaware, and directed the arts program at New York’s Cathedral of St. John the Divine.

At 68, I hope in my retirement to apply the knowledge and skills I have acquired in education and non-profit arts management to serve the community. As a regular library patron for 15 years, I have been much impressed with [Library Director] Cathy Creedon and her staff, and would welcome the opportunity to support their work as a trustee of John Jermain Memorial Library.  Thank you for your interest and consideration.

Ann Sutphen

Ann Sutphen

I’m 54 tomorrow. I’m the sixth generation to live in our house on Ferry Road [in North Haven]. I grew up in New York City and spent summers out here with my grandparents. My husband, daughter and I have lived here full time for five years. My husband started an engineering firm, and I keep the books. Our daughter is a freshman at Pierson.

I went to school in the city, and then the University of Rochester for undergraduate. I have a master’s in nursing from Yale. I practiced as a nurse midwife in Washington State. We moved to Sag Harbor by sailing our boat from Seattle, through the Panama Canal, and then up the East Coast.

I was on the library board for three years (2014-2017). I’ve always considered the library the center of Sag Harbor. It was an essential part of my summers growing up. When we first reached Sag Harbor after sailing 10,000 miles, my daughter asked if the library was open, and it was the first place we went. I ran the “One For The Books” fundraiser, both while on the board and after I left. We were very proud to raise money both to finish the renovation/expansion, and more recently to fund programming.

I want to return to the board to help work on a long-term plan and ensure the future financial security. Libraries are changing with e-books and our on-demand lifestyle, yet this has made the building even more important. It is through the programming and events that our community comes together. It is in these walls that children find a love for books and learning. I was active in both the policy and fundraising while on the board. I look forward to returning to this work in the future.