Measure 24-468 was defeated by a 55%-45% margin in Tuesday’s election. If approved the measure would have added a $2.50 per month fee to city services bills to fund a public library.
Currently Keizer residents have the all-volunteer Keizer Community Library, housed at the Keizer Cultural Center.The $2.50 fee would have generated about $400,000 per year which would have funded a professional librarian and a children’s librarian.
The unofficial vote totals shortly after 8 p.m. Tuesday night were 6,030 against and 4,952 for.
What was planned as a victory party by measure supporters was held at McNary Golf Club and was well attended by city officials, library board members and supporters.
The common reaction from attendees was a new plan has to be developed. As one party-goer said, “Keizer’s the biggest city in the state without a library. That’s ridiculous.”
B.J. Toewe, Keizer Community Library board member and a member of the Yes for Keizer Public Library political action committee said, “I find the results very disappointing.”
She said the defeat of the measure was most likely a combination of the current economy, and possibly people not understanding the “incredible benefits a (public) library would bring to Keizer.”
The Keizer Community Library will continue to operate, at least through 2023. The city has granted $60,000 in ARPA funds next year to help the library keep its doors open.
Toewe doesn’t see the community library moving toward public status again at this time. “If the city came up with a solution, it might be possible,” she said.
Keizer Mayor Cathy Clark said it took seven elections for Keizer to become a city, but it was accomplished in 1982. “We got some room to do work,” said Clark, regarding establishing a public library. “We need to bring people up to speed on what a library can look like in 2022,” she said. “We’ve got more work to do.”
In a Facebook post the morning after the election, the mayor wrote: “I sincerely hope that ‘no’ votes meant ‘find a different solution’ and not ‘give up.’”
She also asked the community to create that future together. “Keizer is worth investing in ourselves and our community.”
The Keizer Community Library is located inside the Keizer Cultural Center at 980 Chemawa Rd. NE.