Julia Shumway
The Bulletin

Name: Ray Miao

Age: 75

Residence: Rural ­Deschutes County south of Bend

Profession: Retired cancer researcher

Name: ­Betsy Tucker

Age: 39

Residence: Bend

Profession: Finance ­manager

A rare contested race on the Deschutes Public Library Board features a founding member of the 20-year-old board and a young government employee who describes herself as the library’s biggest fan.

Longtime board member Ray Miao, 75, is seeking reelection in a zone that covers southeast Bend, part of downtown and rural areas south of Bend. Betsy Tucker, 39, is a first-time candidate who recently joined the library district’s budget committee.

The board is nonpartisan, but both candidates are registered Democrats. Miao is the county Democratic Party’s endorsed candidate in the May 21 special district election.

Cynthia Claridge, who represents the Redmond area, and Ann Malkin, who represents much of Bend, are running uncontested races for reelection.

Ray Miao

Miao is a retired cancer researcher who has served on the library board since the mid-1990s, when it was still a county-appointed commission. When voters decided to turn the library into a separate taxing district in 1998, Sunriver-­area voters elected Miao to represent them.

More than 20 years later, Miao doesn’t want to stop serving on the library board any time soon.

“It’s interesting, it’s fun, and we get things done,” he said. “Bend is still small enough to make a difference. That’s what the library board allows me to do.”

The biggest challenges the library district faces are population growth and demographic changes, he said. The population groups that are expected to grow the most are people older than 65 and younger than 19, and the groups have different needs, Miao said.

Younger people, who are growing up in the digital age, expect digital access, and that means the library system needs to continue growing its e-book collection and keep up with changes, Miao said. Meanwhile, wealthy retirees moving to the area have different expectations of what they want libraries to look like.

“More and more, they’re a center for the community,” Miao said. “Libraries build communities. Strong libraries build strong communities.”

Betsy Tucker

Tucker now works for the Bend Park & Recreation District as a finance manager. She was previously an accounting technician for the city of Bend.

After graduating from Oregon State University with a bachelor’s degree in economics last May, Tucker decided she wanted to increase her public service because she had more time available without having to balance classes. She chose the library board because she’s loved libraries since she was a child, saying her grandfather, a librarian, sparked of love for books and libraries.

“Visiting the library really was a family activity,” Tucker said. “My mom really did a lot to fuel that spark.”

Growing up, Tucker visited the Lompoc, California, library each week. Now, she takes her 11- and 12-year old daughters to the library every weekend.

She’s running in part to demonstrate what civic engagement looks like to her daughters. Tucker said she didn’t want to change much because she thinks the current library board is doing a “phenomenal” job, but she said she’ll bring a new energy.

Tucker described the library system as a relay race. The current board has run the first leg and built a strong system, and she’s been preparing to grab the baton and build on what they’ve done.

“I’m of a different generation than the current board,” she said. “I’ll be thinking 10, 20, 30 years from now.”

She said her experience working in government finance will be helpful in growing the library system on a strong foundation. Tucker said she also wants to continue the library’s work of advocating for library programs that don’t have financial barriers.