Davidge Enters Library Board Race

A fifth candidate – Lyn Powrie Davidge – has filed for one of four open Ann Arbor District Library board seats in the Nov. 6 general election. All four incumbents had previously filed: Prue Rosenthal, Margaret Leary, Nancy Kaplan and Rebecca Head. The filing deadline was 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 14. The four-year terms for these non-partisan positions begin Jan. 1, 2013.

Davidge previously ran for the AADL board in 2010, but was not elected. She has attended the board’s monthly meetings over the past few months and spoken during public commentary. Some of her comments were directed at the issue of the library’s downtown building – she supported renovation rather than replacement of the structure. She also attended an Aug. 8 forum for potential board candidates, though she had not filed at that time. Davidge has worked at AADL as a substitute librarian. Her father, Emerson F. Powrie, served as deputy superintendent for the Ann Arbor Public Schools in the 1970s when the library was part of the school system, and the library director reported to Powrie.

The future of the downtown library, located at the northeast corner of Fifth and William, will be a major issue for the next board. In July, trustees voted to place a $65 million, 30-year bond proposal on the Nov. 6 ballot for construction of a new downtown building. If the project is approved by voters, the board will play a critical role in determining the design and other factors. Located next to the city’s new underground parking structure – the Library Lane Lot – and across the street from Blake Transit Center, the library has the potential to anchor the southern edge of downtown Ann Arbor and influence other development. It is frequently mentioned as a factor in the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority’s efforts to form a framework to guide future development of city-owned parking lots in that same area – the Connecting William Street project.

The library board positions will be elected by voters in Ann Arbor and portions of seven townships that are covered by the library’s district – Pittsfield, Scio, Ann Arbor, Lodi, Webster, Salem and Superior. Those are the same boundaries served by the Ann Arbor Public Schools, with the exception of Northfield Township, which is partly within the AAPS district but has its own library system.