Just one week prior to election, incumbent trustee and candidate Susan Merrell threw her support behind the other trustee candidates vying for one of the three open seats on the John Jermain Memorial Library Board of Trustees.
“I realize that it is too late to withdraw my name from the ballot, but I am writing to throw my support behind the remaining candidates for the upcoming election,” wrote Merrell in an email to fellow board members and library director Catherine Creedon on Tuesday morning. “While I am extremely proud to have been one of the first three elected trustees of the John Jermain Memorial Library’s Board — proud to have been chosen, proud of what we accomplished, and proud of what the future holds — I am, in a word, tired.”
Merrell went on to write that while the past three years have been “truly gratifying,” she needed a break from her duties to focus on family and professional commitments over the course of the next year. Merrell added that she does not rule out the possibility of running again in the future, and has no intention of stepping away from fundraising for the library.
“And now, with experienced trustees such as Christiane and Tippy, and ‘new blood’ like Craig, I feel extremely comfortable stepping aside at the end of the current year,” she wrote.
The announcement came just seven days before the Tuesday, September 16 budget vote and trustee election for the John Jermain Memorial Library and just one day before a planned budget and trustee forum at the library, which was held last night, Wednesday, September 10.
Merrell’s departure leaves three candidates — current library board president Christiane Neuville, current trustee Theresa (Tippy) Ameres and newcomer Craig Rhodes — vying for three seats. Despite throwing her support towards the other candidates Merrell’s name will remain on Tuesday’s ballot.
It also marks the second trustee in the last month who has chosen to step aside in the face of mounting commitments elsewhere. Last month, Kate Evarts resigned from the board saying professional commitments will keep her on the West Coast and unable to fulfill her duties here. Last year, Evarts was elected to fill the remainder of Deborah Wilson’s unexpired term with 59 write-in votes.
Evart’s term was due to run through December 2009. Unlike Evarts, Merrell will serve the rest of her term — through the end of this December. Evart’s seat is not one of the three up for grabs with this election.
On Wednesday, Creedon said she was unsure of what the board’s options would be should Merrell be re-elected to the board, despite preferring residents give their votes to the remaining candidates. Creedon said she believed the board could have the same options it has with Evart’s seat. In that case, the board can choose to not act and instead wait until elections are held in September of next year, it can hold a special election 60 days after the September 16 election or appoint a new trustee to fulfill the remaining term. The three seats up for grabs on next week’s ballot are all for three-year terms.
“I loved working with her,” said Creedon of Merrell on Wednesday. “She is vibrant and smart and a real asset for the library. I am thrilled she will be with us the remaining three months.”
Merrell is an author who has worked at a number of publishing houses and is currently in the process of earning her master’s degree in writing. One of the first three members of the board to be elected, rather than appointed, Merrell has chaired the fundraising committee for three years, raising a quarter million dollars — a feat she noted this week was indicative of the generous support the library has received despite the economy.
In addition to the trustee seats up for grabs, Sag Harbor School District residents will also vote on the proposed library budget for the coming fiscal year. This year’s budget is proposed at $989,580, a 9.26 percent increase from last year’s approved spending plan of $905,700. The vote and election will be held from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the John Jermain Memorial Library, 201 Main Street, Sag Harbor. Residents in the Sag Harbor School District who have registered to vote are eligible.Â
Photo by R. Odell-Shapiro