Historic Local Elections In Westbury School District

Seven candidates vied for an open seat on the Westbury Public Library Board of Trustees. Candidates are pictured at a debate night hosted by the League of Women Voters. (Photo by Frank Rizzo)

In the time span of a little over a month, residents in Westbury Union Free School District participated in two particularly important elections that were historic, albeit for different reasons.

On April 12, community members went to the polls to vote on a budget for the public library and to select one candidate for trustee on the board. On May 17, the public approved the operating budget for the 2022-23 school year and returned three incumbents who sought reelection as trustees to the board.

The library board elections are typically low key, uneventful, and public interest is often lacking; on the other hand, there is always a bevy of activities surrounding the school board elections in that the landscape is often dotted with lawn signs promoting respective candidates, followed by door-to door in-person appeals from the candidates themselves. This was not the case this year; there were seven candidates contesting one available seat on the library board, and a very robust “meet the candidates” night attended by all seven contestants who fielded questions from the public.

Lawn signs, fliers and personal appeals from the school board candidates were virtually non-existent this year; there were no need to because all three candidates were unchallenged. It is an interesting and fascinating dichotomy because on the one hand it tends to dispel the notion that the public is apathetic with regards to local interests, and on the other it seems to confirm this belief. One could also construe that it signals a vote of confidence when incumbents go unchallenged even though there is a sparsity of public attendance at board meetings. It remains to be seen if this is signaling the beginning of the new normal in this community.

I certainly hope this will not be the case because it was rather refreshing and encouraging for me to observe that among the seven candidates for the library board, there were two young millennials, equally divided between the genders; one of whom was victorious. I congratulate Ms. Tyeisha Marshall, and encourage Mr. Bryce Mack to continue to make his presence known in this community. I also encourage our stalwart politicians to make room for our young people; mentor and encourage them to become the stalwarts that you are so that we can ensure continuity of the public service that you have provided.

One thing I learned from the unusual publicity of the library board election is that trustees term on the board is for a period of five years instead of the average three-year term that is customary in most governing bodies.

I expressed my alarm to the board members at the meeting on May 19 and implored them to take steps to rescind this provision and move towards a three-year limit thereby encouraging greater participation in the process and making it easier for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in our public affairs to be achieved.

Chester McGibbon

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