Hundreds lined up at the on Friday to get a glimpse of former President Bill Clinton, who was in his hometown to promote his new book, Back to Work: Why We Need Smart Government for a Strong Economy.
“I think he’s a great man, a great leader,” said Mary Kelly, a Mount Vernon resident. She also attended Clinton’s book signing , so she was able to pick up a copy of the book for both herself and her boss.
Wayne Tilker came all the way from Colts Neck, NJ, to see the former president.
“This is beyond my expectations,” he said.
New Castle Town Councilman John Buckley, who has met Clinton before at previous local events, volunteered to help the library with the logistics.
“We’re just very happy he’s able to make this opportunity for the residents of town,” he said.
More than 500 books were sold, according to Roy Solomon, co-owner of in Pleasantville, which had the exclusive distinction of selling them at the library.
For Solomon to get the opportunity, it came with a chance meeting with the former first couple.
"The president and the Secretary of State [Hillary Rodham Clinton] the Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend and as they were checking out, my wife Yvonne [van Cort] asked if it would be possible to set up a signing and President Clinton said, 'I bet it would be nice to do that before the holidays,'" Solomon recalled.
The planning was on a compressed timetable, with just about two-and-a-half days, according to Solomon.
At a press conference with local reporters, the former president was supportive of doing the signing locally, and praised the Chappaqua Library.
“I support it. It’s a great library," he said.
Talking with the reporters, Clinton lamented the loss of book stores in the area, including Borders in Mount Kisco.
“I miss it terribly, and it was one of the most profitable stores anywhere in America,” he said, stating it just tanked because it was part of a chain.
Clinton was asked about local issues, including the series of new businesses that have opened up in downtown Chappaqua this year.
“Well, for years I didn’t like the changes, because every empty space was taken up by real estate or nail shops," he said, adding that he tries to patronize local businesses "on a regular basis."
"I’ve got nothing against real estate and nail shops, but you want a diverse business environment," he said, noting a majority of economic growth has come from small businesses. (To learn more about Clinton's thoughts on his hometown business picture, click here for an interview he did during the fall with the local public access channel, NCCMC).
Clinton expressed support as well for neighboring businesses in Mount Kisco and Pleasantville, where he also shops.
The former president also responded to reporters' questions about national issues. He supports doing more to upgrade infrastructure and promoting energy efficiency to help the economy, and expressed support for the overall message of Occupy Wall Street, which has focused on income inequality between the wealthiest one percent and the rest of America.
He said, "Since 1980, the only time that there’s been anything like parity, shared prosperity, was in my second term, because in the second four years I was president, we had so many new jobs, the labor market was tight and the jobs we were creating were disproportionately involved in information technology and in exports, that the bottom 20 percent of income earners saw their earnings go up in percentage terms as the top 20 percent.”
Locals were all smiles as they emerged from the library's theater with signed copies of the former president's latest book.
Said Joan Kuhn, the library's event coordinator—"He lives here and everyone's really excited to have him come."