County commissioners also placed five other nonbinding advisory votes on the ballot, gauging voter opinion on public transit and bridge proposals. Most of their advisory proposals seemed to be getting the green light from voters on Tuesday night.
Early returns showed 67.5 percent of Clark County voters would like commissioners to approve a resolution opposing every light rail project that doesn’t get approved by a countywide advisory vote. About 32.5 percent rejected the measure.
Voters also appear to support a commission resolution opposing bus rapid transit projects that aren’t first approved by a countywide advisory vote, according to preliminary results. About 62.4 percent voted in favor of that advisory measure, 37.6 percent voted against it.
Stuart said the outcomes of the public transit advisory votes don’t surprise him. Commissioners asked if they can get advice from voters in the future on light rail and bus rapid transit, and many of the voters are saying yes, Stuart said. He noted that county commissioners have less of a say in public transit policy when compared with rules on fireworks.
On bridge advisory votes, 55.9 percent favored replacing the Interstate 5 Bridge, and 44 percent disapproved of the idea, early returns show. About 56.8 percent of voters supported a new Columbia River bridge in east Clark County, while 43.2 percent opposed building a bridge there. A new bridge west of I-5 received 49.9 percent voter approval in early returns, with 50 percent opposed.
The commissioners don’t have sole control over light-rail projects, they don’t act alone in the formation of a bus rapid transit system, and they don’t have authority over a state-to-state infrastructure project spanning the Columbia River, a federal waterway. Commissioners do have three of the nine voting seats on C-Tran’s board.
Placing the six advisory votes on the ballot cost the county a combined $107,000. Madore said Tuesday evening that the advisory votes were worth the expense.
“The No. 1 thing that we as elected officials have the responsibility to do is to represent the people,” Madore said.
Stuart noted that although there was some concern about whether voters would skip over the advisory votes, a vast majority took the time to complete that part of the ballot. Just 3.4 percent skipped the fireworks advisory vote, early returns show. More than 4 percent skipped the light rail advisory vote and more than 5 percent skipped the bus rapid transit advisory vote.
About “95 percent of people gave us their opinion, which is good,” Stuart said.