Three trustee seats up for election next Wednesday
By Giselle Barkley
Port Jefferson Free Library will soon have a full board of trustees for the first time in a while, after an election on Jan. 13 in which four candidates are running for three seats.
Residents can meet the group at the library on Monday, at 7 p.m., including incumbents Laura Hill Timpanaro and Susan Prechtl-Loper with newcomers Carl Siegel and Joel Rosenthal.
The two candidates who win the most votes will secure seats with five-year terms and the third-place finisher will win a seat that carries a two-year term.
The shorter term is available after former Trustee Harriet Martin vacated her seat on the board, leaving a couple of years left on her term.
Hill Timpanaro, the current board president, has been a trustee for the past five years and is seeking re-election. She heads the library’s planning and building committee and has worked on several projects, including securing grants and modernizing the library to keep up with changes in technology.
“The library is moving into a time of change, not only for PJFL but for the libraries in general,” Hill Timpanaro said in an email. “As technology continues to change patrons’ needs we have the opportunity to create a community cornerstone that suits a diverse clientele and becomes [an] anchor for the community.”
Hill Timpanaro has lived in Port Jefferson for 15 years. Outside the library, she’s also helped secure funds to build a garden at the Port Jefferson elementary school.
She hopes to continue her work on expanding the library in a new term, especially now that the library has acquired two adjacent properties — a residence on Thompson Street and a business on East Main Street.
Fellow incumbent Prechtl-Loper, the board’s financial officer and a member since 2013, is also seeking re-election, with the goal of further improving the library and its services.
She said the biggest accomplishment for the trustees since she first joined was when the library purchased the Scented Cottage Garden property on East Main Street in May, to help satisfy the library’s parking and general needs.
For Prechtl-Loper, a village resident for more than 20 years and a library member for more than 50, the institution is like home.
“I grew up in the library,” she said. “I have really fond memories there.”
Siegel, like the incumbents, is no stranger to the board of trustees. He served from 1994 to 1999 and is hoping to return this year.
During Siegel’s previous tenure, he helped establish the children’s library and an adult reading room, among several other projects. Now that building plans are underway to address a parking shortage and add a room to host live performances, Siegel wants to help execute those projects.
He was an English teacher at the Port Jefferson high school for 23 years before retiring in 1992. Since then, he’s been active in the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Stony Brook University, which offers a variety of courses to its older students. He served as its president in 1997.
For Rosenthal, whose has lived in Port Jefferson Village for 50 years, the election is a new phase. While he’s never been a trustee, Rosenthal is aware of the library’s plans for expansion and would like to work with fellow trustees on the projects.
“With the tremendous changes in technology, [the trustees] should make some informed decisions about the library,” he said in an interview.
Rosenthal is a distinguished professor emeritus of history at Stony Brook University. He was also previously the chair of the history department and took on other administrative roles before partially retiring from the university.
Although Rosenthal said he would prefer the two-year seat to a five-year seat, he would “take what I can get.”
Voting is at the library on Wednesday, Jan. 13, between 10 a.m. and 9 p.m.