Five are finalists for Library Board seat

The Minneapolis Library Board will vote Wednesday, Oct. 8 to fill the seat vacated by George Garnett.

The five finalists are Gregory Gray, Gregory Abbott, Carol Becker, Gary Thaden and Diane Loeffler. Abbott and Thaden are Southwest residents.

The eight-member Library Board has six elected members. The mayor and City Council each appoint a member. Garnett was elected in the fall of 2001 and was to have served through the end of 2005. He resigned effective Aug. 31 and is moving to Duluth for job reasons.

Library Board members face a number of important decisions, including implementing the $140 million Central Library project and dealing with budget cuts that forced community library cuts in 2004.

Garnett has backed Gray of the Near North neighborhood. Gray served as a DFL state representative for District 58B from 1999 to 2003. He works as an independent consultant, doing lobbying, political education and policy analysis, according to information submitted to the Library Board. He has served on the city's Capital Long-range Improvement Committee (CLIC), a citizen's group that helps city leaders prioritize borrowing.

Abbott, a Linden Hills resident, attorney and DFLer, ran unsuccessfully for the 13th Ward Council seat against Barret Lane in 2001. He served on the Linden Hills Neighborhood Revitalization Program (NRP) Steering Committee from 1997 to 2000 and co-chaired the Linden Hills festival in 2002 and 2003, according to information he submitted to the Library Board.

Becker, a Longfellow resident, is a program manager for the Metropolitan Council, according to materials she submitted. She is on the library's New Central Library Implementation Committee and has served on the NRP Policy Board. She has served as staff to former Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton and has a master's degree in public administration.

Loeffler, a Windom Park resident, is a health policy analyst with Hennepin County, serving as a health planning coordinator and legislative coordinator since 1998, according to materials she submitted. She currently chairs Northeast Libraries Supporters and the Northeast Culture and Fitness Task Force. She volunteered on the library's 2000 referendum campaign.

Thaden, a Lowry Hill East resident, is an attorney with Pettersen and Assoc. and vice president of CLIC, according to materials he submitted. He was active on the steering committee for the 2000 library referendum and is a member of the Friends of the Library. Thaden has served on the Minneapolis Charter Commission since 1999.

Garnett said he supported Gray because the former legislator and auditor has a strong handle on budget issues. Further, Gray is a fellow North-sider, an area with some of the city's poorest neighborhoods.

Garnett, the only current North-sider on the board, said, in the context of upcoming budget cuts, his area "needs to feel like it has a reasonable voice in the process. If I am replaced by another North-sider, people will feel that decisions coming out of the process will be a little more legitimate."