Preserve the Will of the Majority. Vote Claridge, Hossick for Deschutes Library Board. ▶ [With Video] | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon

Preserve the Will of the Majority. Vote Claridge, Hossick for Deschutes Library Board. ▶ [With Video]

Surprisingly, this library board election really matters. Read our take on two key races that will decide whether voters' support for a Central Library is upheld.

Video interviews with the candidates appear below.

Library board elections have not been a high priority for us in the past — but this time around, there's a good reason for all of us to be paying closer attention. Our Editorial board remains disappointed in the process surrounding the demise of the Robal Road location for the Central Library, and the delay this has caused in construction of a Central Library in general. However, after conducting interviews for library board members, we are now deeply concerned that even the new proposed Stevens Ranch location is threatened. Surprisingly, this library board election really matters.

Candidate Ray Miao told us during a recent endorsement interview that he believes we, the voters, didn't know what we were voting for when, in 2020, we voted in favor of designing and constructing a new Central Library location, along with building a new Redmond library and renovating the libraries in Sunriver, La Pine, Sisters and downtown Bend. We think voters are smarter than they're getting credit for.

To recap, the language of the last bond, in regards to a Central Library, read, "the bond funds would pay for the design and construction of a Central Library that would provide a discovery center for children to learn and play; substantial space for an expanded book and materials collection; flexible community and small-business spaces for learning, creativity, and collaboration; space for larger programs and events; and an efficient book/material processing and distribution center to serve all of the libraries in Deschutes County..."

Over 63,000 people in Deschutes County voted in favor of that vision, but Miao, along with library board candidate Tony Oliver, have an alternative — an unfunded notion of community libraries; small libraries dotted around every corner of Central Oregon. The notion of community libraries that everyone can access on foot or by bike is a decent one on its face – but there are two major considerations to remember that make it not appropriate to this present circumstance: money, and the will of the people.

While they sound nice, this district does not have the funds to fulfill such a vision. Building a brick-and-mortar in every corner of every town is expensive – expensive both to build and expensive to maintain, and places that have done it are now closing down branches. The Deschutes Library Board of yore contemplated such a model and then did extensive research that revealed it was not the ideal model. The majority of that board voted in favor of a different model to put forward for the 2020 bond. This was after a period of six-plus years of community input and visioning.

The second consideration: the public voted for the vision of a Central Library. Miao, who stood fast for that community-library model, lost when this went up for a vote among the board. Surprisingly, this fuzzy vision of smaller libraries is still threatening the success of the Central Library project.

An elected official who doesn't respect the will of the voters and hopes to subvert that majority. Does this sound familiar? It's the same type of behavior we're seeing on a national level. Voters should reject it.

In this election cycle, voters will need to be vigilant. Thus far, those opposed to a majority-vote for the last library bond have been quite successful in creating chaos for this process. Candidate Oliver, who's running against incumbent Cynthia Claridge, expressed a fear that there's not enough money from the bond to complete the current projects on the bond list. That's false. The projects remain on budget. Oliver said she supports community libraries in Redmond, but construction is already underway on Redmond's new library, and any further construction of more libraries would need to come by asking voters to fund more bonds.

Members of the Bend City Council rejected the Central Library's first proposed location, citing the need for an Area Plan for that site on the north end of town. That location on Robal Road is now the site of much construction activity, thanks to the transportation bond that passed during the same election cycle. It would have been an area ripe for a Central Library.

Due to present circumstances, the library has, wisely, retained that Robal Road plot, but now endeavors to build the Central Library that voters supported on the east side of Bend, at Stevens Ranch. There's a time for deliberation and for the various stakeholders in a project to weigh in and to gather information before moving forward. That time, when it comes to the Deschutes Library bond, was well ahead of the 2020 vote.

We're guessing that if Miao wins this election by 50.0001%, he'll find himself respecting the will of the majority and persisting in his position on the library board. Similarly, he and other community members who are continuing to pursue a misguided and unfunded mission of changing the scope of the bond should respect democracy, humble themselves and move forward implementing what the people voted for in 2020.

During the May election, voters should support Marisa Chappell Hossick (Zone 4) and Cynthia Claridge (Zone 1) for Deschutes Public Library District. Both candidates support the vision already set forth, and thus respect the will of the majority.

Watch our interviews with these candidates

Marisa Chappell Hossick, Ray Miao (Zone 4) & Cynthia Claridge (Zone 1):

Tony Oliver (Zone 1):

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