Wednesday, February 24, 2021
Feb. 24, 2021

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In Our View: Cheers & Jeers: Add diversity, not guns

The Columbian

Cheers: To diversifying Vancouver city leadership. In addition to the obvious — in Vancouver’s 163-year history, only one Black person has served on the city council — there are more subtle biases, including a tendency for almost all of the councilors to come from the city’s west side, and to be much older than the city’s median.

In response, the council a year ago formed a Task Force on Council Representation. The group recently made a report and some recommendations to the city council. Some are noncontroversial: Councilors should engage more with neighborhood and community groups, speak to high school classes, and conduct in-person forums around the city.

Other ideas will require more study and debate. For example, the task force is split on dividing the city council into geographic districts, with each area of the city having a seat on the council. This is similar to how the county council is constituted, with four districts and an at-large chair. Another option is a hybrid system with primary elections being held by district, and general elections citywide. The former county commissioner system worked that way.

And finally, there is the option of ranked-choice voting, where voters choose their favorite and second-favorite candidate for each seat. If any candidate fails to win a majority, then the second-place votes come into play. If we like this, a change would need to be made to state law.

Regardless of what emerges, city leaders should be cheered for recognizing the lack of diversity, studying the problem and taking steps to reduce or remove barriers that keep potentially great leaders from sitting on the city hall dais.

Jeers: To the Three Percenters. This fringe militia group apparently thinks the 2021 Legislature will function better if its crazy members bring their guns to Olympia, force their way inside the Legislative Building, and occupy the public galleries above each chamber.

This was already proven to be a terrible idea when the same sort of mob broke windows, threatened and assaulted people and tried to force their way into Oregon’s capitol during a one-day special session on Dec. 21.

The Three Percenters cry out for government transparency, but causing damage and intimidating legislators, staffers and members of the public with legitimate business to transact is no way to promote open government. And with most legislative functions to occur remotely due to the pandemic, the idea is obviously futile.

We’d urge members to stay home, pay taxes, watch proceedings on TVW, read reputable news, and contact their legislators by phone and email about what they want and don’t want from state government. In other words: Be responsible citizens.

Cheers: To groups trying to make a difference for teenagers during the pandemic. It’s been a tough year, but it’s particularly tough on teenagers, who rely on friendships and the structure school provides. Utmost Athletics is one example of these groups trying to fill a need. It’s part of the Columbia Future Forge, a nonprofit that focuses on things such as mentorship, transformation through relationships, and helping people live life more fully. Specifically, Utmost provides a weight room (currently, more like a weight tent) and strength training workouts to a diverse set of local people.

Jeers: To what lawyers for the national Girl Scouts organization claim is a “highly damaging” recruitment war with the Boy Scouts. There’s a lawsuit pending, and both sides are pointing fingers. Without taking sides, it’s worthwhile to note that disputes among adults serve youths poorly.