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News / Politics / Clark County Politics

Clark County special election ballots trickling in

School bonds, Vancouver fire among local measures

By Griffin Reilly, Columbian staff writer, and
Lauren Ellenbecker, Columbian staff writer
Published: February 5, 2022, 6:02am

Just a few days remain for voters in Clark County to cast their ballots in next week’s special election.

Highlighting the ballot are crucial bonds and levies for school districts across Clark County, as well a levy supporting Vancouver fire and emergency services.

Turnout in February special elections in Clark County is historically quite low. As of Friday, just an estimated 18.6 percent of eligible voters across the county had submitted ballots.

Clark County Elections Supervisor Cathie Garber projects that ballot returns are on pace for about a 30 percent turnout, which would be a five-year low.

Vancouver’s Proposition 2 would impose a levy lid lift to fund about $15 million a year for the Vancouver Fire Department.

Its proponents assert that the increased expenditures are essential for emergency services to reduce its current service level gap. About $60 million would be invested in replacing and retrofitting fire stations, and an additional $12.7 million would provide more staffing, operations and equipment costs.

Ridgefield School District is running a $62.5 million bond to fund district expansion and construction projects to support rapid population growth that’s projected to continue over the next few years. In order to pass, the bond requires a 60 percent supermajority — a feat that failed at the ballot box twice in 2020.

“If our schools are going to remain one of Ridgefield’s greatest assets, then the community needs to come together to support this bond,” said Ridgefield School Board President Joe Vance in November.

Evergreen Public Schools is running a three-year replacement educational programs and operations levy, which will replace the district’s current levy when it expires in December. The levy would continue to fund critical programs not supported by the state, such as mental health services, extracurricular activities and sports.

If approved, property owners in the district can expect to continue paying a total of $3.89 per $1,000 value in taxes to the district over the next three years — the same that they’re paying now.

Voters within the boundaries of the Hockinson School District, Green Mountain School District, the La Center School District and the Mount Pleasant School District will each also decide on similar maintenance and operations levies on Tuesday.

Last year’s special election — which featured similar funding measures for Battle Ground Public Schools and the Camas School District — reported a turnout of just 39.1 percent. Battle Ground Superintendent Denny Waters attributed the district’s levy failure to low turnout in February’s election.

Eligible ballots will be accepted in the mail or in local drop boxes through 8 p.m. Tuesday, and preliminary results will be released by 8:30 p.m.