In Our View: Voting Really Matters

Odd-year elections hit close to home; a recap of our recommendations

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Clark County voters have a little more than two weeks to mail or drop off ballots before the Nov. 7 election. But why wait? The Columbian urges all eligible residents to partake in the civic duty that forms the foundation of our representative democracy.

Convincing the electorate to get involved is becoming increasingly difficult, and the last odd-year election — 2015 — saw turnout of 34 percent in Clark County. That is 34 percent of registered voters. Not 34 percent of all residents or even 34 percent of all adults, but barely more than one-third of citizens who had signed up to receive a ballot. In other words, 85,541 people actively made decisions that impact a county of more than 460,000.

This lack of interest in voting undermines our political system and pulls at the fabric of our civilization. As Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman told The Columbian’s Editorial Board a while back: “The thing that’s frustrating is that voters turn out in droves for the presidential election, for a whole host of reasons. The president of the United States doesn’t really affect your daily life that much. But the people who do — the port commissioners and the city council members and the school board directors — are literally making decisions that affect your daily life, from the quality of your roads, the books your kids read in school, to how fast a first responder gets to you. Those decisions are made in these elections and, ironically, these have the lowest turnout.”

Forgive us for repeating that quote, but it remains one of the best explanations we have heard regarding the importance of odd-year elections. While voters get to select a president and state executives every four years, and while they get to choose congressional representatives in even-numbered years, it is the odd-year elections that hit closest to home.

This year’s ballot includes a high-profile race for Port of Vancouver commissioner, a contest for mayor of Vancouver and three city council spots, and several school board positions in the area’s two largest districts. The Columbian’s Editorial Board has interviewed candidates for each of these positions and has provided recommendations for voters. Videos of the interviews (http://tinyurl.com/yb56lpte) and editorials providing our recommendations (http://tinyurl.com/gmjon38) are available at Columbian.com.

As always, these are simply recommendations. The Columbian urges voters to examine the candidates and the issues before casting an informed vote. Here is a recap of our suggestions for the Nov. 7 election:

• Port of Vancouver Commission, Dist. 1: Don Orange is clearly the strongest candidate.

• Mayor of Vancouver: Anne McEnerny-Ogle. Opponent Steven Cox has withdrawn from the race but remains on the ballot.

• Vancouver City Council, Pos. 1: Candidate Scott Campbell died on Sept. 17, but we cannot in good conscience recommend his opponent. If Campbell wins, council members will decide who fills the seat.

• Vancouver City Council, Pos. 2: Alishia Topper is a clear choice.

• Vancouver City Council, Pos. 3: Linda Glover.

• Evergreen school board, Dist. 1: Julie Bocanegra.

• Evergreen school board, Dist. 5: We recommend Ginny Gronwoldt, but Park Llafet also is a worthy candidate.

• Vancouver school board, Pos. 2: Mark Stoker is a clear choice.

• Vancouver school board, Pos. 3: We recommend Heather Christiansen, but Wendy Smith also is a worthy candidate.