Sunday, September 20, 2020
Sept. 20, 2020

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In Our View: Cheers & Jeers: Democracy requires participation

The Columbian

Cheers: To voters. It appears that about 50 percent of registered voters in Clark County took part in Tuesday’s primary election. As of midday Friday, county officials had reported results from 132,470 ballots, with an estimated 22,000 left to count. There are a little more than 300,000 voters in the county.

While 50 percent is nothing to brag about, it represents a marked improvement over the 2016 primary — the year of the most recent presidential election — when turnout for the primary was 30.6 percent. Combined with an increase in the number of registered voters, nearly twice as many ballots were turned in this time around. Increased political engagement likely played a role in the increase — along with people probably having more time to vote because of the coronavirus pandemic. Regardless of the reasons, increased voter participation strengthens our democracy and is worthy of cheers.

Jeers: To closed minds. Washougal City Council members have passed a resolution rejecting calls to “defund the police.” The resolution reads, in part: “the meaning of such calls is not clear with some advocates stating ‘defund the police’ means reallocating resources to mental health and social services while others are calling for an outright elimination of police departments.” It then explains that crime will continue and police are necessary.

We agree about the importance of police departments, but summarily rejecting any discussion violates the purpose of local government. If “the meaning of such calls is not clear,” leadership requires listening to decipher that meaning. With questions about police practices rising across the country, ignoring the issue will not make it go away.

Cheers: To graduates. Evergreen Public Schools held a drive-through graduation ceremony this week for the Class of 2020. Students and their families drove through the parking lot at McKenzie Stadium and students hopped out of their cars, walked across a red carpet and stage, and posed for photographs.

It was an unusual ceremony, one dictated by the COVID-19 pandemic, but it was a worthy acknowledgement of a notable achievement. As a headline in The Columbian put it: “Circumstance dictates pomp of a different sort.” Cheers go to graduates in Evergreen and other local districts, along with those who missed out on traditional college graduations.

Jeers: To a crime spree. Bottles of Moosehead beer helped lead to the arrest of a suspected burglar in Bellingham. At 2:47 a.m. Thursday, officers responded to a report of a residential burglary, with the victim saying thieves stole $200 in cash, a cellphone, and two 12-packs of beer.

Two hours later, reports of a car prowl and another residential burglary led to the apprehension of an 18-year-old. Police found a backpack that included six bottles of Moosehead; they charged the suspect with a variety of crimes.

Cheers: To keeping dams in place. A federal study released this week recommends maintaining four dams along the Lower Snake River. The decision will continue hydroelectric production from the dams, assist with flood control, help irrigation for Washington farmlands and help maintain the Washington economy.

Environmentalists have sought removal of the dams, arguing that they hamper salmon reproduction in the region and, therefore, Puget Sound orcas that feed on salmon. Those are, indeed, important concerns, but the decline of salmon can be attributed to many factors. Removal of the structures would be devastating to the region’s economy and quality of life.