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The following is presented as part of The Columbian’s Opinion content, which offers a point of view in order to provoke thought and debate of civic issues. Opinions represent the viewpoint of the author. Unsigned editorials represent the consensus opinion of The Columbian’s editorial board, which operates independently of the news department.
News / Opinion / Editorials

In Our View: Cheers & Jeers

Vancouver councilor’s selection open, fair; don’t mine near Mount St. Helens

The Columbian
Published: February 10, 2018, 6:03am

Cheers: To the Vancouver City Council. In choosing a new member, the sitting councilors employed a civil and logical process. The result was the appointment of Laurie Lebowsky, a planner with Clark County, to fill the vacancy for Position 1. Scott Campbell had been elected posthumously to the post in November, leaving other council members to choose a replacement.

Starting from a list of 56 applicants, the six council members each chose their top 15 candidates, and that was used to narrow the field to six. Councilors then publicly interviewed the candidates before voting. After the first two nominations fell short of the required four votes, Lebowsky was chosen by a 4-2 count. In the process, council members demonstrated a fair-minded attention to detail that served the public well. Congratulations are warranted for Lebowsky, and cheers go to the other council members.

Jeers: To mining near Mount St. Helens. U.S. Forest Service officials have consented to a proposed mining project adjacent to the national volcanic monument. Approval of permits for mining exploration by Ascot USA Inc. remains up to the Bureau of Land Management, but consent from the Forest Service was necessary for the project to move forward.

While we oppose the project, believing that it would be detrimental to the ecology of the area, the process for approval deserves kudos. Proposals deserve fair consideration rather than an automatic rejection; due process does not mean you always get the result you seek, but that both sides are heard. That being said, we hope the project is rejected in the final assessment.

Cheers: To Washington State University Vancouver. Administrators at Clark County’s four-year university are preparing for the next stage of growth and updating the school’s master plan. Formally established as a branch of Washington State University in 1989, the campus has demonstrated steady growth; it now serves about 3,300 students on its Salmon Creek campus, which opened in 1996.

The most important part of WSUV’s next generation will be the establishment of on-campus housing. This will require approval from Clark County, which needs to alter the zoning designation for the property. Over the past quarter-century, school officials have effectively turned WSUV into an essential piece of Southwest Washington; on-campus housing will be important for broadening its impact.

Jeers: To disenfranchising voters. A computer glitch by the state Department of Licensing resulted in about 7,000 residents being left off voter rolls. Some citizens — including 579 in Clark County — who thought they were registered to vote when getting a new driver’s license after a name change were left out, and state officials say the glitch could date as far back as 2006.

State officials are working with county officials to ensure that voters receive ballots in time for next week’s special election, which includes several school bonds in Clark County. But the fact that the problem was not flagged by officials, county auditors, or would-be voters for years is deserving of jeers.

Cheers: To reduced water usage. In the mid-1980s, customers of Vancouver Public Works used an average of about 185 gallons of water per day; now, Clark County residents use 88 gallons per day. In fact, usage has dropped considerably since just 2010.

With increased attention to conservation and water-saving devices such as modern shower heads and more efficient dishwashers, local residents have cut their consumption. That is good news, but Clark County’s per-capita use still ranks higher than the national average of 82 gallons per day. In other words, we probably can do more to limit our water usage.