Only one candidate runs in GPL election, four seats are vacant

Elish Melchiade

GUILDERLAND — The public library here is short candidates for the May 17 election but the library’s director, Timothy Wiles, is relieved that citizens who want to ban books haven’t petitioned for a spot on the ballot.

“I’m hopeful that, as a community, we are going to choose freedom,” he told The Enterprise this week, noting that book-banning has become an issue nationwide. “It’s the highest value that our nation was founded on …. To me, everything that’s read or watched makes us a better society …

“This is a core value for me that the reason our society is great is that we don’t try to control the public. And we can look at some major countries in the world right now that do try to control the public, and they’re not doing as well as we are.”

Wiles concluded, “Freedom and diversity are the two things that make us great.”

Only one candidate, Elish Melchiade, who was appointed as a library trustee in February, is seeking election.

At the same time, the board governing the public schools, which follows the same boundaries as the library, has 10 candidates running for four seats.

There are four vacant seats on the library’s board of trustees: two with five-year terms; and two with one-year terms.

Andrew Genovese, who was also appointed in February, is not running; neither is Philip Metzger who has been appointed to the board three times — most recently in November 2021 — but never been elected.

The fourth seat in play is held by Peter Hubbard. He is completing his second five-year term on the board and is not seeking re-election.

Six residents picked up petitions to run for the board, said Wiles, but only Melchiade returned one. Wiles had reached out to several of the candidates and learned at least one felt it would be too much work.

“I’m filled with wonder,” said Wiles that anyone would pursue an unpaid post involving so much work.

The library board is made up of 11 members, each serving a five-year term. However, in some recent years, as in this election, there have not been enough candidates to fill the open seats.

The library board discussed that in the last few months, Wiles said, and decided not to seek a reduction in seats. Trustees felt that, with fewer members, the workload would become burdensome.

However, the board did vote to limit the length of a term from five years to three years in hopes of attracting more candidates.

“Five years is a big commitment in today’s society,” said Wiles. “Three years may be … less daunting,” he said.

The process of changing the length of terms, which has to go through the state’s Board of Regents, will take time, said Wiles.


Elish Melchiade

David Sedaris was at The Egg in Albany last month and Elish Melchiade brought one of Sedaris’s books, “Me Talk Pretty One Day,” for him to sign.

In it, Sedaris wrote, “If you were on my library board I would never again sleep all day in the library.”

Melchiade is enthused about serving the Guilderland Public Library. She moved to town last summer, in the midst of the pandemic and says, “It’s important when you live in a community to positively affect the place where you live.”

She works as a project manager at an international medical-device company, Demant, which makes hearing aids. She has a background in software, human-resources marketing, and event planning.

Melchiade has two children, ages 5 and 7.

She describes the library board as “a very well oiled machine” and is impressed with the “huge capital improvement project” that she says is “serving the community well.”

The board has recently adopted a no-fines policy of which Melchiade approves. She calls the services the library adopted during the pandemic like book delivery and dial-a-story “really cool.”

Melchiade serves on the board’s policy committee and on its long-range planning committee. “We just revamped our mission statement, which will help us move forward with a lot of inclusivity,” she said.

Asked her thoughts on the rise of book-banning nationwide, Melchiade said, “Some of those books being banned are really influential for some people. People find themselves in the characters and they find strength and resonate with certain stories. I think limiting accessibility to those experiences ultimately will hurt people.”


More Guilderland News

The Altamont Enterprise is focused on hyper-local, high-quality journalism. We produce free election guides, curate readers' opinion pieces, and engage with important local issues. Subscriptions open full access to our work and make it possible.