UMATILLA COUNTY — Voters will have an opportunity to cast their votes for three candidates for the Umatilla County Special Library District Board of Directors.

A trio of three candidates — incumbent John Thomas, Caleb Barron and Sharone Pettus McCann — are each vying for a four-year term. Two candidates from the field will gain a seat on the board.

The other board position currently on the ballot is the remaining two years of the term previously held by Kara Davis, who left Dec. 31, 2020, when moving out of the area for a new job. Candidates for that single position are Jubilee Barron, Gaby Gonzalez and Fatima Machado.

John Thomas

Thomas is just finishing up his first term on the district’s library board. He served as board president in 2019-20 and was selected as vice president in January 2021 when Davis resigned her position.

A Pendleton resident, Thomas has resided in Eastern Oregon since grade school, except while pursuing his undergraduate degree in the early 1990s. A licensed clinical social worker for the Oregon Health Authority at a facility in Pendleton, Thomas also provides private therapeutic services through the BetterHelp platform.

Over the years, Thomas has served on a number of appointed commissions for mayors Phillip Houk and John Turner, including the Pendleton Airport Commission and Arts Commission of Pendleton. Thomas is proud of the work of the libraries throughout Umatilla County. He’s especially pleased with their creativity in going above and beyond in helping meet people’s needs in the midst of a global pandemic.

“I want to continue to be a part of that, no matter what challenges the future may hold,” Thomas said.

Caleb Barron

A Umatilla resident, Barron has resided in Eastern Oregon for 23 years and is currently a private security officer. Running for the special library district board is a way for him to get more involved in the community.

“I value what the public library achieves: encouraging literacy and lowering the barriers to knowledge for all members of the community,” he said.

As an avid reader, Barron said he’s capable of assimilating information and making reason-based decisions with that information. He also said he’s skilled at interacting with various age groups.

Sharone Pettus McCann

McCann has lived in Stanfield for more than 40 years. This is her first time running for an elected position.

“I am an avid reader and interested in promoting libraries and their services in our communities,” she said. “Our libraries build community and promote education.”

McCann, who is retiring this year, has taught in the College Prep Department at Blue Mountain Community College for 36 years. She recently agreed to serve on the district’s budget committee and hopes to gain information that will assist her in becoming a knowledgeable board member.

She views serving on the library board as “the perfect place to begin my retirement.”

Jubilee Barron

Barron, who lives in Umatilla, has been in Eastern Oregon for 18 years. While she has never ran for previous boards or political offices, she has good memories growing up going to the library. She views serving on the board as a way to give back to the community.

“I would like kids to have the same opportunities to experience the feelings of reading a good book or meeting the friendly librarians,” Barron said. “I believe that librarians can change your life.”

Currently, Barron has a lawn mowing and odd jobs business. She enjoys crafting, writing and reading, including out loud to others.

Gaby Gonzalez

A resident of Umatilla, Gonzalez has been an Oregonian for approximately 18 months. She is currently a property manager, overseeing two apartment complexes in Hermiston.

While this is her first time running for this type of position, Gonzalez said she is excited for the opportunity to grow. In addition, she hopes to become a part of the board where she can share new ideas.

“I am bilingual, love to learn new things and I’m very passionate about community outreach in the bilingual/Spanish speaking community.”

Fatima Machado

Machado, who resides in Pendleton, has lived in Eastern Oregon since 2002. While she hasn’t been elected to a board previously, she has knowledge of libraries through her work as an academic librarian at Columbia Basin College. She holds a master’s degree in Library and Information Science.

“I work predominantly in the academic library space, but I have always wanted to extend my knowledge to public libraries,” Machado said. I’m interested in serving on the UCSLD board to learn more about (and be a part of) rural public libraries and its work and contributions to our communities.”

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Contact community writer Tammy Malgesini at tmalgesini@eastoregonian.com or 541-564-4539.

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