Saturday, October 24, 2020
Oct. 24, 2020

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Cheers & Jeers: 3rd District debate right call

The Columbian

Cheers: To public discourse. Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler and challenger Carolyn Long have agreed to an Oct. 9 debate, giving voters an opportunity to assess where the candidates stand on the issues. The virtual event will be hosted by the League of Women Voters and broadcast on CVTV; it will be co-sponsored by four newspapers, including The Columbian.

In an age when political campaigns are dominated by ads on TV and social media — misleading ads already have been running in this campaign — the opportunity to see the candidates face off is most welcome. Two years ago, when Herrera Beutler defeated Long to retain her seat in Congress, the incumbent declined invitations for a face-to-face debate. That was a disservice to residents of Washington’s 3rd Congressional District. This year’s event, along with a joint interview with The Columbian’s Editorial Board, gives voters a well-deserved opportunity to compare the candidates.

Jeers: To hazardous air. We couldn’t let a Cheers and Jeers editorial pass without commenting on the smoke that has covered our county for more than a week. The result of wildfires throughout the region — including the Big Hollow Fire in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest — the smoke has lingered like a perpetual fog. Air quality in Vancouver has ranged from “hazardous” at worst to “very unhealthy” at best, which doesn’t sound like much of an improvement.

In the short term, there has been little we can do about it — except hope for rain. In the long term, the event is a reminder of the realities of climate change and the effect it has on our forests. Improved forest management is, indeed, needed; but cutting carbon emissions will do more to protect the health of our forests.

Cheers: To increased housing. The La Center City Council has approved an ordinance allowing for cottage-style homes, described as hybrids of single-family and multifamily dwellings. Cottage-style housing typically features small homes on shared or individual lots that don’t face public streets and have a common open area.

Most important, council members apparently did their homework, examining similar codes throughout the state. As a housing crunch continues to put pressure on our communities, all jurisdictions must be willing to adapt.

Jeers: To self-investigations. We don’t know whether Vancouver Mayor Anne McEnerny-Ogle violated the city’s ethics policy when testifying before the Legislature. But we’re pretty sure the city council should not have a say on whether or not to investigate.

When a Vancouver resident filed a complaint against McEnerny-Ogle, the city attorney told city council members that the accusation did not fall under the purview of the ethics policy. Councilors then dismissed the complaint, declining to refer it for further investigation (McEnerny-Ogle recused herself). That might be the correct decision, but council members should not be the ones to make it when a complaint involves one of their members.

Cheers: To football. It can be difficult to find things to cheer during these chaotic times, but how about those Seahawks? The NFL returned last week, providing some sense of normalcy, and the Seattle Seahawks won their season opener, 38-25 against the Atlanta Falcons.

Quarterback Russell Wilson was at his best and the defense came up with crucial stops, making the Seahawks look every bit like the Super Bowl contenders they are expected to be. While nearly all games are being played without fans in the stands, having football on TV provides a bit of a catharsis.