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Best Bear Election

Vote for your favorite literary bear at the West Linn Public Library


by: REVIEW, TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Merrick Clifford, 3, of West Linn fills out his ballot for the bear elections at the West Linn Public Library.Political rhetoric is on full display at the West Linn Public Library. The library is scattered with political slogans that tug at the heartstrings of families. Its Facebook page is marked with partisan political videos. Red, white and blue campaign posters — modeled after Barack Obama's iconic “hope” poster — adorn the walls.

Only this election is for bears. The hopeful candidates include children's literary greats Winnie the Pooh, Corduroy, Paddington Bear and Mama Bear from The Berenstain Bears. Voting in the Best Bear Election is open to children and adults alike now through Nov. 6 at 4 p.m. A winner will be announced Nov. 7.

Competition amongst library staff members — each bear has a campaign manger and volunteers — is stiff. Winners will receive bragging rights.

“I wanted to do a display that tied in with the election year and to get kids involved,” said children's librarian Carson Mischel. “I saw the idea on a library listserv. I think we've taken it quite a bit further. Staff members have embraced the election beyond my wildest dreams.”

by: REVIEW, TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - West Linn librarian Julie Blake took the teddy bear from her grandchildren's room and handmade his little outfit. 
Each bear has color and activity pages in the children's library. Mama Bear supporters wear little quilting patches on their lapels. The Winnie the Pooh campaign has stickers, posters and bookmarks and Corduroy's lost buttons are hidden throughout the library.

“Probably all of these bears have had an affect on this community,” said West Linn Mayor John Kovash. “May the best bear win.”

Kovash already cast his ballot in the Best Bear Election. Initial library polling claimed he voted for Mama Bear, as he not so subtly mentioned that The Berenstain Bears were among his granddaughters' favorite stories.

by: REVIEW, TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - West Linn Mayor John Kovash casts his ballot in the Best Bear Election. The West Linn Public Library — in addition to the 24-hour drop box at city hall — is a ballot drop location. Voter registration forms may be picked up in the library.

“Voting is very important to all of us,” Kovash said. “Everyone should participate.”

Registration forms must be postmarked on or before Tuesday, Oct. 16, in order to vote in the November election.

“Kids and parents seem to be really passionate about choices,” Mischel said. “These characters are so beloved."

“My own grandchild is not voting for my bear!” said librarian Julie Blake.

“I think this election can equate to how creative and diverse this library is," said library director Diane Satchwell.

Satchwell said discussions about other elections are loosely under way. Characters from teen literature, hippopotamuses and pigs are on the discussion table. Library staff said library assistant and Winnnie the Pooh campaign manager Shasta Barnes has been the most aggressive campaigner.

“I kind of wanted my campaign to be a little tongue in cheek,” she said. “I wanted my campaign to focus on the kids and parents that are coming in.”

Competition aside, Barnes said the Best Bear Election is positive for the children and community of West Linn.

“We're focused on getting kids excited about voting,” she said. “There are a lot of negative messages out there, it's good to see a positive campaign and have a lot of fun. ... Take a minute and remember back to your childhood. I know you will make the right decision.”

Mama Bear

Campaign slogan: A vote for Mama Bear is a vote for mamas everywhere.

Cuteness factor: She's not really concerned with looking cute. This mama is mature and wise.

Reason for running: Mama bear is all about family.

Corduroy

Campaign slogan: Push my button, vote Corduroy.

Cuteness factor: He's cute because he's wearing handmade clothing sewn with love.

Reason for running: Corduroy wants to share his friendship with anyone and everyone.

Paddington Bear

Campaign slogan: Cute, fuzzy and determined.

Cuteness factor: He's very stylish and finishes each ensemble with a hat. He is prepared for the Oregon weather.

Reason for running: Paddington is a cultured world traveler who will bring this experience to office.

Winnie the Pooh

Campaign slogan: Pooh cares 2012

Cuteness factor: Red T-shirt, belly full of honey. Enough said.

Reason for running: Pooh is focused on friendship, small business and local resources as demonstrated by his love of honey and getting industry going in the Hundred Acre Wood.