Cooperation Drives Library Board Competition

Cooperation Drives Library Board Competition

By, Crystal A. Proxmire (Nov. 1, 2009 edition)

The Citizens for a Fair Ferndale (CFF) Forum on Oct 18, 2009 introduced residents to four Library Board candidates – each with similar experience and a sincere desire to see the Ferndale Public Library, and the millage money given by the voters to operate it, well-managed and accountable to residents.

“Each of us is dedicated and it’s kind of like musical chairs up here,” said candidate Patrick Dengate.  “Whoever isn’t elected – at least I can speak for me – will continue to be involved in seeing the library move forward.”

Dengate will be competing with Tiffany Gagne and Sara Parmelee for two open 6 year terms.  John Sterritt is the only candidate running for a partial term.  He is unopposed.  All four candidates have experience serving on library committees and have been involved with the library at least since the millage passed in 2007.

Dengate is a former Ferndale City Council member and an active participant in the Library Building Committee.

Gagne is the current Board Secretary who has lived in Ferndale since 1997.  She is raising two sons and is a part-time substitute teacher and Sunday school teacher.

Parmelee is the Chair of the Library Finance Committee who is a stay-at-home mother who has lived in Ferndale for six years.

Sterritt has been here 39 years and has seen two sons raised in Ferndale Schools and Ferndale Library Programs.  He currently serves on the Library Building Committee.

Candidates answered questions form the audience, turned in anonymously on index cards.  Some wondered about the candidate’s position on using union labor to build the new library renovations at the 222 E. Nine Mile Road location.  Dengate, who worked on the Building Committee for 2 ½ years explained.  “We were required to take the lowest bid.  The money we saved on contracts goes back into the fund towards services for residents.”

Candidates all agreed that the process of taking and choosing bids was effective and that they would not have changed anything.  “We had to take the lowest bids, even though some were really close.  … [The bond money] it’s not just for a building.  It’s for more books, more computers… where we could save we did and I wouldn’t change anything,” Gagne said.

Others wanted to know why the Library is temporarily being housed at the old Mongolian BBQ headquarters at 642 E. 9 Mile.  “You’re constrained by space.  Cost is a factor.  You don’t want to move too far away.  You don’t want to loose patrons,” Dengate explained.  Parmelee told of how “just the other day” she spoke with a neighbor who was so excited about the temporary Library that these can’t wait to see what the new one is like.

Another Ferndale resident wondered who is responsible for selecting the items to be put in the Library.  Sterritt answered that the American Library Associate reviews books and that the Library staff chooses which books to order.  Sterritt opposes censorship, recalling “I grew up in an era where some books were behind the desk and you had to ask for them, and you had to be a certain age.”

Although the forum did not bring up any points of contention, viewers may have learned things about the Library they didn’t know before.  The Library has an ever-growing collection of music and data CDs, downloadable resources and computers available for public use.  They are also part of a system that allows users to receive books from other Libraries in the area.  For more information on each candidate, please go to  For more information on The Ferndale Public Library go to

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