To be a successful elected official requires more than just doing your homework, showing up at meetings, deliberating with other politicians and casting votes. To be truly successful requires interacting with voters — especially during campaigns — to make clear your views on major issues and, in the case of incumbents, explain your voting record.
Pat Campbell this year chose to avoid campaigning and let his service on the Vancouver City Council speak for itself. For that and other reasons, Campbell is now a lame duck city councilor. Challengers Bill Turlay (34.6 percent of the votes) and Anne McEnerny-Ogle (33.2 percent) advanced to the Nov. 8 general election while Campbell (31.3 percent) is left to wonder why he has now come up short in five of six elections.
But it’s not that hard to figure out. No one said Campbell had to play a banjo while wearing a fake arrow-through-the-head, but it’s hard to generate much appeal to voters if you hibernate during the campaign. And it’s more difficult if, after your sole electoral win, you tell folks that your role in public service “is not fun.”
So, congratulations to Turlay and McEnerny-Ogle and other candidates who advanced beyond Tuesday’s primary. That election will arrive sooner than Nov. 8 … literally. Ballots will be mailed on Oct. 19, which means voters can start participating in the vote-by-mail process almost three weeks before election day.
If you were frustrated to not receive a ballot for Tuesday’s primary, we hope you understood that it was because there were no primary races in your area, and that only about half of registered voters locally received ballots. In the fall, though, every registered voter in the county will be mailed a ballot. In addition to five statewide ballot measures (three initiatives and two proposed amendments to the state constitution), there will be traditional races for city councils, school districts, fire districts, cemetery districts, sewer districts, and port commissioners. And a high voter turnout can be expected because of the appearance on the ballot of a C-Tran ballot measure that will propose a 0.2 percent sales tax increase to preserve current bus-service levels and meet the projected growth of bus and C-Van services.
Then again, you might encounter a separate frustration in the fall because many local races — especially for school boards — are uncontested.
Voters in the 49th Legislative District will be able to participate in a rare odd-numbered-year race for the Legislature. Democrat Sharon Wylie was appointed to replace Democrat Jim Jacks, who resigned abruptly on March 26, and she is opposed by Republican Craig Riley. Wylie is a former state legislator in Oregon. Riley ran in the 49th District last year, pulling in 46.4 percent of the votes as he lost to incumbent Democrat Jim Moeller. The winner of this race will only serve out Jacks’ unexpired term, with all state-rep races appearing on the 2012 ballot.
One interesting aspect of the Nov. 8 election: It will be the last statewide election before redistricting, which occurs every 10 years after the U.S. Census is calculated.
As the books are closed on Tuesday’s primary, the voter turnout was about 22 percent, a little below projections but still above other turnout percentages in several previous off-year primaries.
Voters are encouraged to closely follow candidates and ballot measures as the Oct. 19 ballot mailing and the Nov. 8 election draw near.