Early returns show Jackson County voters supporting the county library system by almost 55 percent to 45 percent.
Troubled for years by up-and-down federal funding and budget woes at the county level, the libraries were facing closure due to county budget cuts. The new district, if the vote holds, would operate and fund all libraries in the county, starting July 1.
With the first batch of votes from all 54 precincts counted, the library measure was passing 24,365 to 20,126.
The campaign manager of Libraries for All, former Ashland Mayor Cathy Shaw, was exuberant.
"It was completely awesome," she said. "We'll never have to run another library campaign ever. It's how democracy is supposed to work, not with TV and radio, but with neighbors talking to neighbors. Nothing is as powerful as that. This is how we used to run campaigns."
The library measure would tax property up to 60 cents per $100,000 of assessed valuation and establish a five-member board, independently elected, removing authority and funding from the Jackson County government. The members are on today's ballot, but if it fails, the board would not be formed.
— John Darling