Traditionally, The Columbian has supported local parks and endorsed ballot measures pertaining to parks funding. In 2005, we supported a property tax levy (voters narrowly passed it) that created parks in unincorporated urban areas. On Nov. 6, voters inside Vancouver city limits face a decision about parks.Times have changed for the worse and the city is abdicating its responsibility to make difficult choices. For these two fundamental reasons, we recommend voting "against" the parks measure, Proposition 1. (A pro-con package of opinions is presented on the facing page.)
When The Columbian first endorsed legalized gay marriage more than eight years ago, we acknowledged that many polls showed as much as two-thirds of Americans opposed to such a dramatic shift in custom.Times change, but our opinion hasn't. Washington's Legislature legalized same-sex marriage earlier this year, and a recent poll showed 56 percent support statewide, with only 38 percent opposition. And our support of Referendum 74 -- which would uphold that legislation -- is rock solid.
Unresolved variables in the Columbia River Crossing -- plus the incongruity of raising taxes during an economic crisis -- lead The Columbian to oppose Proposition 1 on the Nov. 6 ballot. The measure, which goes before voters in the C-Tran service district, calls for a sales tax increase of one-tenth of a percentage point (1 cent on a $10 purchase) in the district, with the resultant $4 million to $5 million in annual revenue used for operation and maintenance of light rail in Vancouver and some costs of a bus rapid transit system on the Fourth Plain corridor.Some folks may vote against this measure and still be in favor of light rail, but many people will vote against it because it's their only opportunity to voice opposition to light rail. Still, Prop. 1 simply asks voters: Do you want to increase the sales tax for these purposes?
For several judicial races, the Aug. 7 primary is not a primary at all but a decisive event. Different rules apply in these races. Those rules are complicated and vary between local and state levels. But basically, any judicial candidate who receives a majority of votes in this primary (ballots were mailed Wednesday) will be declared the winner of the election. With that in mind, here are The Columbian's endorsements for judicial races:Superior Court Judge, Dept. 2: By his conduct in and out of the courtroom, Judge John Wulle's self-inflicted wounds have rendered him unworthy of being returned by voters to the bench he has occupied for 12 years. Challenger David Gregerson offers a composed demeanor and enough experience as a judge pro tempore to earn The Columbian's endorsement.
Jaime Herrera Beutler continues to strengthen her political bona fides as she nears the end of her first term in Congress. An independent streak that enables her to occasionally step beyond the Republican Party consensus has been refreshing in the bitterly partisan Congressional arena. Her laser focus on "what's best for the people of the district" reminds her constituents in the 3rd Congressional District that they are her boss.The Camas Republican is The Columbian's lone endorsement in the Aug. 7 primary because of her strengths, plus her two opponents' weaknesses. Neither Jon Haugen, a Vancouver Democrat, nor Norma Jean Stevens, an Ocean Park libertarian, is gaining any meaningful traction in this campaign.
Replacing Brian Sonntag will be a difficult task for the next state auditor. The retiring Sonntag leaves a legacy of independent accomplishments that is admired by conservatives and liberals alike. During 20 years as state auditor, he consistently championed open government and performance audits to the extent that, last Sept. 29, we editorialized: "Washington taxpayers have no greater friend than Brian Sonntag."Fortunately for voters in the Aug. 7 primary, replacing Sonntag is facilitated by the emergence of two impressive candidates. One — outgoing state Sen. Craig Pridemore, D-Vancouver — has broad legislative experience and keen insight into government's auditing responsibilities. The other — Kirkland businessman James Watkins — has an extensive private-sector auditing background.
Joe Tanner and Ron Barca know a lot about Clark County. Tanner served in the Legislature during the 1980s and was the first director of the Columbia River Economic Development Council. Barca has served 13 years on the Clark County Planning Commission and understands key issues such as growth management and agriculture.They're both driven to public service for the best reason: to make a great community even better.
Solid experience in state and local government strengthens the candidacy of incumbent Clark County Commissioner Marc Boldt. Fresh ideas and thorough preparation enhance the qualifications of newcomer Roman Battan.Those qualities lead The Columbian to endorse Republican Boldt and Democrat Battan in the Aug. 7 primary. Ballots will be mailed Wednesday. After the primary advances the top two vote-getters from this four-man race, we'll announce a single endorsement for the Nov. 6 general election. But already we're impressed with Boldt's little bit of the old and Battan's little bit of the new.
For more than a decade, residents of the 18th Legislative District have been served by Republican state Rep. Ed Orcutt. That seat in the Legislature is now open, although Orcutt has not decided to leave the Legislature or move from Kalama. Essentially, the 18th is leaving Orcutt.The decennial redistricting process redirected Orcutt into the 20th District, where he's running for re-election, and reduced the 18th District to the confines of Clark County, including most of north county, plus Felida, Camas and Washougal. With Orcutt's shift northward comes two strong candidates, each making a first run for the Legislature and both listing a wealth of community service as preparation for the job.
Although politicians of all partisan stripes chant "jobs, jobs, jobs" as the three most important issues of 2012, it is difficult to overlook education as a key issue in one particular local race for a state representative's post.
Remember Election Day? For that matter, remember the Edsel? Both are relics in history’s dustbin. These days we’ve got Election Season, and it’s officially under way now that voters are receiving ballots by mail.
In Clark County, 226,302 ballots were mailed Wednesday, presenting an interesting array of races ranging in marquee appeal from state legislator to commissioners of cemetery and recreation districts. All but the state legislators’ races are nonpartisan races, with no political party affiliation declared. Important statewide and local ballot measures also are presented to voters.
The three big stars on the statewide elections stage this fall are Initiative 1125 (regarding transportation spending), Initiative 1163 (training and other requirements for long-term care workers) and Initiative 1183 (privatizing state liquor sales and distribution).
However, two Senate Joint Resolutions (SJR) also are on all ballots in the state. Here’s how The Columbian feels about those two ballot measures:
Incumbent Vancouver school board members Dale Rice and Edri Geiger share much in common, not the least of which is a passion for improving schools. For 20 years and six years, respectively, Rice and Geiger have helped steadily improve the district even in the midst of an economic crisis (more than $9 million was cut from the Vancouver schools budget this year alone). Public opinion of the district’s performance was reflected, in part, when voters last year approved a maintenance and operations levy by a 2-to-1 margin.
But in their campaigns for re-election this fall, they face different struggles. For Rice, it’s not much of a struggle at all. His opponent — political newcomer Bob Travis — became unelectable when The Columbian reported he had posted inappropriate photos on his personal website. Travis said it was “a stupid idea,” and both the local teachers’ union and the Building Industry Association of Clark County revoked their endorsements of Travis.
Bill Ward’s 2007 election as Port of Camas-Washougal commissioner was a clear message from voters: Stabilize the controversial port management after a misguided detour toward waterfront development. Ward defeated his opponent by 18 percentage points.
Four years later, the port’s management is on solid ground and Ward has helped increase transparency in the decision-making process. His challenger on the Nov. 8 ballot — professional pilot Neil Cahoon — possesses a wealth of knowledge about the port’s airport operations. Cahoon seeks new direction for the port, and this is one of those races where voters benefit from candidates who are genuinely motivated and highly motivated on multiple issues.