REDMOND, OR -- Library board elections are not typically exciting. But the race for Redmond’s seat on the Deschutes County Public Library Board is heating up. At a Friday candidate event at the Redmond Senior Center, the two women running for Redmond's seat on the board voiced strong opinions about the voter-approved 2020 library bond.
Challenger Tony Oliver (pictured left) told the audience, "We passed a bond. Redmond did not support it. Neither did any of the outlying areas. The only ones that supported that bond were Sisters and northwest Bend." She went on to explain she thought the bond meant a second Redmond library, "We weren’t going to have a library that was torn down; there was nothing about ‘replace, remove, demolish’ of our library."
In her statement, incumbent Cynthia Claridge (pictured right) said there was a lot of public discussion about the plan, "I wrote an article prior to several other people [who] wrote an article about the fact that we were going to be replacing the library." She admits demolishing the historic Jessie Hill school building is a loss, and said she tried to preserve some of its legacy, "I asked them if there was some way to save some of the aspects of the interior of the building. And they said that the engineers came back and said they could make that attempt. But they said the materials that had been designed back in 1929, they were not the quality of material that they could move." But Claridge said the larger library is important for the community, "We’re going to have a 40,000 square-foot library that is going to have more materials, it’s going to have various meeting rooms spread throughout the building."
Oliver also took issue with the size of the new Central Library in Bend, "I am all for a central library, and we should follow everything that is expected from that bond. However, it never said anything about a 100,000 square foot library to go out on Stevens Road; and that’s very expensive." Claridge noted the library bond covers the cost of the construction projects and renovations now underway.
Listen to both statements: