Thursday, March 4, 2021
March 4, 2021

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Cheers & Jeers: Elections soar; leaders fall short

The Columbian
Published:

Cheers: To secure elections. Minus the drama seen in other states, Washington’s election results have been certified with little fanfare. Secretary of State Kim Wyman declared the results official two days before the deadline, saying, “Throughout this election season, voters were energized, engaged, and eager to make their voices heard.”

While President Donald Trump has lobbed ridiculous accusations in questioning the election results in several states — at last count, his campaign had been successful on one of 41 court challenges — Washington residents have remained confident that our long-established vote-by-mail system resulted in a free, fair and secure election. Cheers go to voters who participated, but also to the offices of Wyman and the county auditors who protect our democracy, including Clark County’s Greg Kimsey.

Jeers: To Eileen Quiring O’Brien and Gary Medvigy. When the Clark County Board of Health passed a resolution declaring racism a public health crisis, two members of the county council were nowhere to be seen. Quiring O’Brien and Medvigy did not attend the meeting and therefore did not vote on the resolution.

It was an act of cowardice for two councilors who have disputed the existence of systemic racism in our community, and it demonstrated a lack of leadership. As county councilors, they are members of the health board and should be expected to attend meetings, particularly when significant issues are on the docket. If Quiring O’Brien and Medvigy do not believe racism is a public health crisis, they should be willing to put those opinions on the record.

Cheers: To flu shots. As the coronavirus pandemic surges in record numbers, health officials also are concerned about the coming flu season. As a story in The Columbian explains: “This year it will be a secondary focus behind COVID-19, but it’s still a virus that has the ability to further jam hospitals and kill older populations.” Officials say the mitigation strategies for coronavirus — social distancing and mask-wearing — could help reduce the impact of influenza this year, but that remains to be seen.

Public health officials recommend flu vaccinations — which are available for free from many local outlets — particularly during a year when COVID is top of mind. “I’m concerned we could have both of them circulating at the same time,” Clark County Public Health Officer Dr. Alan Melnick said.

Disappointing: Justice delayed. Clark County courts have suspended all jury trials at least into January, following a surge of coronavirus cases throughout the region. Superior Court hearings will be held via Zoom.

Jeers go not to justice officials who made the necessary decision, but to our community’s inability to get the COVID-19 pandemic under control.

Cheers: To the Mill Plain Vine. A recent Columbian articlestory detailed the benefits of C-Tran’s Vine route on Fourth Plain Boulevard in advance of a similar route along Mill Plain Boulevard. Since the Bus Rapid Transit route debuted in 2017, ridership has increased and the average time spent at each stop has decreased.

The results are encouraging for a $50 million project to convert C-Tran’s Mill Plain route between downtown Vancouver and east Vancouver. Construction is scheduled to get underway next year, with federal funding paying for about half of it. Improved access between the city’s most concentrated employment centers, with stops near hubs such as PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center and Clark College, will benefit local residents.

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