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Gov. Kate Brown Spares Holly Theatre, Vetoes 2 Other Medford Projects

The Holly Theatre restoration project has survived a threatened veto of state funds.

An outpouring of community support has led Oregon governor Kate Brown to reverse a decision to veto state funds for the renovation of the historic Holly Theatre in Medford. But she followed through on veto threats for two other projects championed by Medford’s state representative. 

Supporters of the Holly Theatre restoration rallied around the project after Governor Brown announced last week she intended to strip funds for that and two other Medford-area projects from a House budget bill.

Holly Theatre Executive Director Randy McKay told JPR, "We asked our community to step up and let the governor know how much this project means for southern Oregon, for southern Oregon economic revitalization, southern Oregon jobs. And the community did all of that and more.” 

In a veto notification letter, Brown noted that she’d received “extensive input from the southern Oregon community” on the importance of the project, and had decided not to veto that $1 million appropriation. She did, however, follow through on her veto threat of funds for a local irrigation project and improvements at Harry and David Field.

Brown is using the vetoes to punish Republican Representative Sal Esquivel. In exchange for funding for the projects in his district, Esquivel agreed to provide a key vote on a bill Brown wanted passed. But he later joined an effort to overturn that bill with a public referendum.

Esquivel insists he held up his end of the bargain, and that later budget provisions passed by the Democratic majority caused him to join the referendum campaign.


Liam Moriarty has been covering news in the Pacific Northwest for three decades. He served two stints as JPR News Director and retired full-time from JPR at the end of 2021. Liam now edits and curates the news on JPR's website and digital platforms.