Sunday, December 5, 2021
Dec. 5, 2021

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Jayne: Thanks to voters, candidates

The Columbian
Published:

The results are not official; that won’t happen for a couple weeks. But in the wake of Tuesday’s election, some random observations are in order:

  • Roughly 21 percent of Clark County’s population bothered to vote — about one-third of registered voters. That means a little more than one-fifth of residents had a hand in electing mayors in Camas, Vancouver and Washougal, along with city councilors and school board members in all 11 of the county’s districts. There also was an election for a Port of Vancouver commissioner, a position that helps oversee an entity that is one of the region’s economic drivers and has an annual budget of more than $50 million.

The point is: If your local city council raises taxes or your school board does something nutty, the odds are that you have no room to complain. Thanks to the more than 100,000 people who voted.

  • Thanks also go the candidates who ran for office — a time-consuming and often thankless task. While some office-seekers are more qualified than others, respect is due for anybody who sees a need to improve their community and believes they are the person for the job.

That being said, some words of advice: Being a good candidate requires more than having good ideas or some strong feelings about current conditions.

Vancouver Mayor Anne McEnerny-Ogle, for example, spent decades volunteering with community organizations, leading neighborhood associations and serving on various commissions before running for office. She knows the community and its people and is viewed as somebody who works hard for Vancouver — both in the spotlight and beyond it. There is a reason she was reelected with about two-thirds of the vote.

  • In Clark County, and throughout the state, voters said in advisory votes that three taxes passed this year by the Legislature should be repealed. For Advisory Vote No. 37, regarding a capital gains tax, 63 percent of statewide voters said the tax should be repealed.

Guess what: The taxes will remain in place. The advisory votes are nonbinding, amounting to so much spitting into the wind. They aren’t even really advisory votes; they are push polls with biased language that appeals to anti-tax sentiments.

The advisory votes, the lone remnant from a Tim Eyman anti-tax measure several years ago (the rest of the measure was tossed out by the courts) are an embarrassing waste of time and money for voters and election officials.

The capital gains tax could eventually be overturned by the courts. But it won’t be because of the meaningless advisory vote.

  • Voters overwhelmingly approved eight of the nine county charter amendments, defeating only No. 6, which would have created a department of diversity, equity and inclusion. It’s not surprising that amendment No. 6 was rejected; anything having to do with diversity is a hot-button topic these days. But it is interesting that all the others were approved in landslide votes.

The Clark County Republican Party, in an article on its website, had urged the rejection of all nine amendments. Phrases such as “We must stop this!”; “This is insane”; and “Stop the gerrymander!” colored the opinion piece. Either Republicans were not listening to their county leadership or not many of them bothered to vote.

  • Proposition No. 10, a county tax levy that would have paid for police body cameras, was defeated — perhaps because the measure did not mention body cameras. It was a measure to fund juvenile detention facilities and jails, which then would free up money for body cameras.

Regardless of the reason it failed, county councilors should not view it as a referendum on body cameras and should find a way to pay for the devices.

  • Five cemetery district commissioners were on the ballot, and each of them featured only one candidate. We are grateful for anybody who runs for elected office, but why are cemetery commissioners elected positions? I know, I know, it’s state law. But the Legislature might want to reconsider this one.
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