Library levy nearing 30 percent turnout

Votes continue to come into the Jackson County elections office for the Ashland's library levy. As of this morning, 29.8 percent of registered voters' ballots had been counted.

Because it is an off-year election, the measure must receive at least a double-majority, meaning that it fails if 50 percent of registered voters don't vote. Ashlanders are voting on a tax levy that would charge $.20 per thousand dollars of assessed property to increase hours, wages and services at the Ashland Library.

Jackson County Clerk Kathy Beckett said the unofficial results should be posted on Jackson County's Web site by 8 p.m. Tuesday, the last day voters have to hand in their ballots.

In the meantime, the Committee to Open Ashland Library, a grass roots organization that is campaigning for passage of the levy, has its work cut out for itself. Pam Vavra, co-chairwoman of COAL, said volunteers will be making phone calls to people who haven't voted yet to urge them to do so.

She said local businesses have donated their phone lines, and library supporters will be calling people between 5 and 8 p.m. until election day. This weekend, they will also canvass neighborhoods where voters have yet to decide.

"I'm optimistic because it's tracking about the same as the last election," Vavra said, noting that in the last election had 62 percent of Ashlanders voted.

One positive sign for Ashland library supporters is that Don Rist, who campaigned against the previous county-wide library levies, donated "$200 to $300" to this campaign.

"I have nothing against libraries," he said. "My concern was having 15 of them when we can't afford it. Four or five around the county would be enough."

Rist doesn't live Ashland, so he won't vote, but he says he supports Ashland's right to expand its hours of operation.

"If they want to pay for it," he said, "more power to them."

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