This year, three candidates emerged for one position on the Milton Public Library board of trustees: Incumbent Tom Frank, plus newcomers Beth Bouchard and Lisa Barron.
We asked the candidates three questions and asked them to provide a short bio with their responses. They were each given 400 words to split between the three questions:
1. Why are you running for library trustee, and what qualifies you for this position?
2. What would be your main priority if elected?
3. Although the board of library trustees crafts the library’s budget, the selectboard has final say on the bottom line. As a trustee, how would you maintain a balance between advocating for the library’s needs and being mindful of the board’s wishes and taxpayers’ ability to pay?
Editor’s note: Biographical information only edited for length, style and format. Responses edited only for AP style.
- Married to Kevin Barron
- Graduate of Milton High School
- Lived in Milton since 1981
- Daughters also attended Milton schools
- I’m currently working toward my master’s in human relations and organization development
1. I am running for a couple of reasons. One, I care about the community and I want to help the library be all it can be. Two, I love books and love to read and have always wanted to be involved with the library in some way. This seems like a great way to get involved. I remember when the library was in one tiny room over on Main Street, and it’s come so far from that! I am qualified for this position because I have 20-plus years of working in business behind me. I have performed all sorts of business roles such as payroll, bookkeeping, customer service, quotes, claims, human resources, interviewing and training new employees as well as reading and writing policies. I bring a lot to the table.
2. My main priority is to find my role within the trustees group and work with them to further the library’s goals. I don’t know all the library’s future plans at this time, but I will carefully consider the information and make informed decisions. I’m not bringing an agenda with me.
3. Obviously, there is a fine line between what taxpayers can pay and what the library would like to accomplish. I know that I always think about that when I’m voting.
I would pay attention to helpful feedback by being attentive to the taxpayers through listening them, as well as soliciting information from concerned citizens. I’m sure the library trustees must meet with the selectboard at some point and that would be the time to work together. I believe in general, the community has a very positive view of the library and wants to see it become a vital hub of Milton.
- Milton resident since 2001
- Married to Tom Fondakowski, with two children Ben Fondakowski (19) and Meghan Fondakowski (14)
- Education: B.A. in biology, Smith College; Ph.D. in cell & molecular biology, University of Vermont
- Professor of biochemistry at the Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont
- Board member, Milton Ski & Ride Club, 2013-2016
- Volunteer for the American Heart Association
- Judge, Milton Middle School Science Fair (2015, 2017)
1. My mother instilled a love of reading in me at a young age, and I have fond memories of my hometown’s library. Over the years I have watched the Milton Public Library grow from a small public library to a vibrant center for community gathering and learning. Observing this evolution has been exciting and has motivated me to explore ways that I can become involved. Serving on the library board of trustees will allow me to have a positive impact on this ongoing growth, and also on the community members who use its resources. I am well qualified for the position of library trustee and will add a unique perspective to the board as an educator and research scientist. Besides the MSRC, I have served on many committees at UVM working with others to achieve a common goal. I have fundraising experience through my involvement with the ski club, and am a top fundraiser for the Vermont affiliate of the AHA. I have extensive experience applying for and administering grant funding to support my research laboratory at UVM. My experience will be an asset to the library and the board, and I will be committed to ensuring that the library achieves its goals.
2. With the recent resignation of the library director, the trustees will be charged with hiring her replacement. It is important that the library continue to evolve and grow to support the needs of Milton. This can only be achieved by keeping the library updated and relevant. Not only must the library maintain its current programs and assets, but it must also increase its holdings and implement innovative, new programs. I look forward to the challenge of finding a director who is committed to this process.
3. I visualize the library’s budget as being composed of “needs” and “wants.” Needs (e.g. staff salaries and benefits) are non-negotiable and have to be included in the budget’s bottom line. I am familiar with balancing my laboratory’s needs with its wants on limited resources, and I will work with the other trustees and selectboard to craft a budget that is fiscally responsible but does not compromise the financial wellbeing of the library. If the library’s wants cannot be supported through the money allocated from the town, the trustees and director have to be creative in obtaining additional dollars through fundraisers and grants. As a trustee I will actively seek out other mechanisms of support.
- Lived in Milton for 10 years
- Milton Public Library trustee for five years
- Bachelors and masters degrees in educational communications
- President, board of directors: Vermont Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired
- Member: Vermont Special Services Library advisory committee
- Married to Janet Dooley who brings Cleo the Therapy Dog to the library every two weeks
- Claims representative with Social Security for the past 17 years
1. As the only male trustee, and a blinded veteran, I feel I bring a unique perspective to developing library policies and procedures. In each of the three towns I have lived in since moving to Vermont in 1982, I have joined organizations that promoted community improvement. In Barton, I was president of the parent teachers organization and was active in Post 76 of the American Legion. In Waterbury, I worked for the Vermont Assistive Technology project, helping bring computers and other devices to children and adults with disabilities. Now, living in Milton, I feel I can best give back to my community by supporting our magnificent library. And on a very personal note, between my wife and me, we have six children and 14 grandchildren, half of whom live in Milton and regularly use the library.
2. Along with the other trustees, finding, hiring and supporting a new library director is my immediate priority. Once that task is accomplished, I will continue promoting technology and access to online services.
3. I strongly defend the independence of the Milton Public Library set forth in the Vermont Constitution. Our state’s founders knew that a democracy can flourish only when there is a free and unrestricted access to knowledge and information. But, as a taxpayer, I understand that the library must balance the needs of Milton’s residents to have a vital library along with our ability to support our schools, parks and infrastructure. We have a strong, vibrant library that all of us can be proud of. As a trustee, I will work to help expand and modernize our library to meet the needs of all Milton’s residents now and in the future.