Call it a change sandwich: two slices of status quo in local and federal politics, but tucked in between there are monumental modifications at the state level.
That sums up the 2012 election for Clark County residents. For all the energy and excitement, the two slices are in some ways pretty much plain bread. At the local level, the incumbent congresswoman was re-elected, no incumbent legislator lost (although one is locked in a fierce struggle), there still is no funding mechanism for light-rail maintenance and operation, and Vancouver’s parks remain mired in financial woes. Not much change there. At the federal level, we’ll have the same president for another four years, Democrats kept control of the Senate, and Republicans remained in control of the House. Not the sea change many pundits predicted.
But look at the historic change in Washington state: Both same-sex marriage and marijuana use are well on their way toward legalization. That’s unprecedented change in America. We’re glad to see Washington leading the way for what ought to be a national conversation on both issues.
More than half of local ballots have been counted, with a turnout of 56.8 percent expected to climb over 80 percent by the end of the week. Congratulations to the winners, and we’ll start with Republican David Madore, who defeated incumbent Clark County Commissioner Marc Boldt, another Republican. Madore holds a commanding lead of 7 percentage points. How successfully he can convert that victory into thwarting the Columbia River Crossing remains to be seen. More likely would be progress on Madore’s other declared desire to “open the floodgates” on new jobs in Clark County.
In the other county commissioner’s race, incumbent Republican Tom Mielke holds a narrow, too-close-to-call lead over Democrat Joe Tanner.
The most exciting local race — one that has drawn statewide attention — remains undecided. Democrat challenger Tim Probst has a slim lead (less than 1 percentage point) over incumbent Republican state Sen. Don Benton in the 17th Legislative District, but that could change as more ballots roll in. Also in the 17th, Paul Harris appears on his way to a second term as state rep while newcomers Julie Olson and Monica Stonier are running neck-and-neck. In the 18th, Ann Rivers coasted to victory as state senator, with Brandon Vick and Liz Pike cruising to easy triumphs as state reps.
In the 49th, no surprises. Three Democrats are well on their way toward victory: rookie state Senate candidate Annette Cleveland and incumbent state reps Sharon Wylie and Jim Moeller.
Among major Clark County ballot measures, two Proposition 1’s were summarily disposed of by local voters, both good decisions in our view. The request to create a parks district in Vancouver was thrashed by a 2-to-1 margin (as of Tuesday night), and C-Tran’s proposal to fund light-rail M&O and a bus rapid transit system on Fourth Plain is trailing by more than 7 percentage points.
One fundamental fact remains secure: Clark County is very much an unpredictable swing county. Early returns show disagreement with the rest of the state on the marijuana and same-sex marriage issues, but agreement is seen in races for senator and president.
The biggest undecided race is Probst vs. Benton. We endorsed Probst, and he’s got a narrow lead, but ballots counted later often swing to Republicans.
Kudos to all local voters for what appears to be another heavy turnout. There’s plenty of both patriotism and politics in Clark County.