Jennifer Juengst wins seat on North Shore library board by one vote

Jennifer Juengst, shown in a May 14, 2013 Jennifer Juengst, shown in a May 14, 2013 file photo, won a five-year term on the North Shore Public Library board of trustees, defeating Charlotte Karp-Fritts, 269-268. Photo Credit: James Escher

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A single vote decided the race for a seat on the North Shore Public Library board of trustees last week.

Jennifer Juengst won a five-year term on Tuesday, defeating Charlotte Karp-Fritts, 269-268. Juengst will succeed trustee Steven Losquadro, who did not seek re-election.

Voters also approved the Shoreham-based library's budget, 308-162. The $3.8 million spending plan will raise taxes by 0.9 percent, or about $4 a year for the average taxpayer.

Library district residents voted four days after a state audit was released that criticized the district's budgeting methods.

Auditors from the office of state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said the district stockpiled nearly $14 million in surpluses over six years, or 66.4 percent of the district's $21.04 million in operating funds during that period. Library officials said the surpluses were intended to fund employee retirement benefits.

Juengst, 49, of Shoreham, an attorney, said she planned to address what she called "the transparency issues" raised by the audit. The state report said the library board failed to disclose the surpluses to library trustees and taxpayers.

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"I'm definitely going to focus on the accountability to the public on the budget issues," Juengst said, adding that she would request regular budget reports.

The surpluses were "something many, many people in the district do not know about," she said.

Board president William Schiavo did not respond to a call seeking comment.

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Juengst's campaign was her first run for a seat on the library board of trustees. Last year, she ran unsuccessfully as a Republican against incumbent Suffolk County Legis. Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai).

Juengst said her one-vote victory in the library race "should be a lesson to all of us about why it's so important to get to the polls."

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