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United Way of Lancaster County


Commissioners appoint three newcomers to Library System board

Lancaster County’s board of commissioners. From left: Alice Yoder, Chair Josh Parsons, Vice Chair Ray D’Agostino. (Photo: Tim Stuhldreher)

Lancaster County’s two Republican commissioners voted Tuesday to seat three new members on the Library System of Lancaster board; declining to reappoint two incumbent members, including the board’s only professional librarian.

“I’m looking for a fresh perspective on the Library System,” Commissioner Ray D’Agostino said before proposing that Theia Hofstetter, Tess Vo Wallace and Andrew Welk be named to the board.

The three names were among nine candidates for the board. Commissioner Josh Parsons seconded D’Agostino’s picks without offering further comment. The two then voted for their slate, 2-1, with Democratic Commissioner Alice Yoder voting “nay.”

Hofstetter and Welk will serve three-year terms, while Wallace will serve the remaining two years of a three-year term that ends in April 2026.

Hofstetter is a county Republican Committee member and has been an active citizen participant in Elizabethtown Area School Board meetings. She has advocated against the inclusion of sexually explicit material in the school library, such as the controversial book “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl.” Last year, when the county piloted electronic poll books, she raised concerns that it would foreclose the possibility of using signature matching as an election integrity check.

Wallace, a nurse, ran unsuccessfully last year as a Republican for the Manheim Township School Board. LNP has reported that Wallace appears to be a Moms for Liberty member, but that she has not responded to requests to confirm her affiliation.

Welk, a Republican, was elected to the Lampeter-Strasburg school board member in 2021. He donated $500 to D’Agostino’s re-election campaign in October, LNP reported.

Hofstetter, who lives in Elizabethtown, would add geographical diversity, D’Agostino said; while Welk, a Realtor, could be helpful to the Library System because it is planning to relocate its offices.

Yoder said she would favor picking from among four of the other candidates instead: Cody Diehl and Alexandra Godfrey, who are existing board members seeking reappointment; and either Carrie Rampp or Michael Foley.

The Library System had proposed Diehl’s and Godfrey’s reappointment, she said, noting that the commissioners have historically taken such recommendations into consideration. Godfrey is a professional librarian; Diehl is director of operations at Elizabethtown Brethren in Christ Church.

Rampp is Vice President and Chief Information Officer at Franklin & Marshall College and previously was Bucknell University’s director of library services and instructional technology. Alternatively, Yoder said, the board could pick Foley, an attorney with experience in corporate governance.

The Library System of Lancaster County is a nonprofit that provides administrative, IT and logistical support to 14 member libraries.

The county is providing $2.1 million toward the system’s budget this year, roughly two-fifths of its budget; it also is providing $225,000 through the system for its member libraries.

During the recent controversy over Lancaster Public Library’s planned drag story hour — which was ultimately canceled due to security threats — D’Agostino and Parsons said they would consider pulling funding, saying the library was violating public and professional standards. Mountville Borough and East Hempfield Township have both suspended their library donations because of the issue.

Library System Executive Director Karla Trout declined to comment on Tuesday’s board appointments. Library System board President Dale Hamby had supported the reappointment of Godfrey and Diehl, but expressed confidence to LNP that the new board will work “to support the system and its mission.”

The Library System is essentially a “back office” operation — the libraries it serves are independent entities and make their own operational and policy decisions. As such, board members would not be expect to weigh in on library programming, such as the drag story hour; or on member libraries’ choice of books and other materials.

Before the vote on the appointments, LNP reporter Tom Lisi asked the commissioners if they had done any political work with any of the candidates; and if it would be appropriate to recuse themselves if they had.

Yoder said she was not aware of any ties to the candidates beyond casual acquaintance, but that she would consider recusal if there were. Parsons and D’Agostino said they knew some of the candidates socially; they declined to answer further, with Parsons instead going on the offensive, and suggesting Lisi recuse himself instead.

Parsons has vehemently and regularly criticized LNP, accusing it and its leadership of partisanship and left-leaning bias.