By Joe Sabatini and Olivia Baca
Library bond issues were successful statewide in the 2014 New Mexico General Election. State General Obligation Bond B, providing $10.8 million for public, academic, public school and tribal libraries passed by an unofficial margin of 115,211 votes. With 280,177 yes votes and 164,966 no votes, Bond B won with 62.9% in favor, 0.9 percentage points higher than attained by library bond issue B in 2012. This progress was accomplished through higher margins in all but ten counties, with the greatest margin gains in Lincoln, Taos, Santa Fe, Mora, Valencia and Los Alamos Counties. Only two counties, Catron and Union, rejected the measure. Taos was once again the banner county for support at 77.2% yes, followed by Santa Fe County at 70.8% and McKinley County at 69.8%
Bond B showed the second-highest level of support among the three state bond issues; the $17 million senior citizen facilities bond (A) received 64.9%, with library bond (B) at 62.9%. Bond C, providing $141 million for higher education facilities, passed with a 59.8% yes vote. These are unofficial totals, which will be updated when the State Canvassing Board meets later this month.
In Bernalillo County, library bonds providing $1.8 million to the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Library System passed by a vote of 114,683 yes to 40,313 no, a 74% margin. This margin exceeded the 2013 City of Albuquerque library bond margin of 72% and the 66.3% margin for the 2012 County library bond. Voters in Albuquerque and Bernalillo County have now passed fifty-five consecutive library funding questions dating back to 1892, with an average margin of 68.3% favorable, and totaling $120 million in funding. The drop-off in support in Bernalillo County between the County Library Bond and State Bond B is 7%. The Bernalillo County library bond ranked second highest in voter support among the six bond issues proposed to county voters in 2014.
In Sandoval County, library bonds providing $3.25 million to 15 public and tribal libraries passed by a vote of 20,910 yes to 14,245 no, a 59.5 % margin. The drop-off in support in Sandoval County between the County Library Bond and State Bond B was only 3.4%. The county library bond also ranked second highest for Sandoval County among the four bond issues proposed in 2014. Two of the other Sandoval County bond issues were defeated.
The library community was mobilized to support Bond B through the activities of the Bonds for Libraries Special Interest Group (SIG). Under the chairmanship of Olivia Baca, the SIG met periodically to promote the legislation, raise funds, prepare and distribute campaign materials and place advertising. The SIG used a variety of media to promote passage of Bond B to both library allies and voters who may not use libraries. The SIG website, bondsforlibraires.org, provided updates on the status of the legislation and outreach projects. A radio spot ran on KMGA and KANW leading up to Election Day, in September and October 2014. Other outreach efforts included bookmarks, window clings, buttons and “shelfies”, photos of library supporters taken with a library card or library book. The photos were distributed through social media, including Facebook and Twitter. A display ad was also placed on the state’s leading political blog, “New Mexico Politics with Joe Monahan.”. Bond B was endorsed by the Albuquerque Journal and other newspapers around the state. Our increased level of support in a generally conservative and low turnout election demonstrates that New Mexico citizens understand and value what libraries do for their communities.