Saturday, June 25, 2022
June 25, 2022

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Cheers & Jeers: Sprucing spirit; election woes

The Columbian

Cheers: To signs of spring. The weather has been springlike on occasion recently, so volunteers gathered last week to do a little sprucing up. Vancouver’s Downtown Association, the city of Vancouver and the Parks Foundation of Clark County put together “Spruce up the Couve,” an event to beautify Esther Short Park and clean up trash in the downtown area.

“I love this kind of stuff. I love being outside,” one official said. “It’s so nice seeing people spending their Saturdays helping to make Vancouver beautiful.” Flowers were planted and areas were cleaned; meanwhile, another group worked to beautify Uptown Village. Call it a bit of much-needed spring cleaning, with participants demonstrating the meaning of community.

Jeers: To election shortcomings. This week’s primary election in several states — including Oregon — points out a problem with Washington’s election system. Washington voters will not turn in primary ballots until August, when they choose two candidates in each race to advance to the November general election.

Washington’s election system has some strong points. We have been fortunate to have election officials with integrity, from trustworthy secretaries of state down to the county level; all elections are vote-by-mail, which is safe and reliable and makes it easier for voters to participate; and our top-two primary is beneficial to voters. But an August primary leaves little time before the general election and is easy to overlook in the middle of summer. Moving the primary to earlier in the year would be a wise decision.

Cheers: To Vancouver’s incoming police chief. Jeffrey Mori has been selected to replace James McElvain, who is retiring this summer, as chief of the Vancouver Police Department. Mori has 29 years of law-enforcement experience, including the past three as an assistant chief in Vancouver.

Following a public forum among the job candidates this month, The Columbian reported: “Mori said he doesn’t believe more aggressive policing would be effective in addressing property crime. Instead, he advocated for restorative justice programs with the hope of breaking the pattern of those who reoffend.” Cheers go to Mori as we hope for a successful and peaceful tenure while working to keep our community safe.

Jeers: To COVID-19 infections. There is no telling how many new coronavirus infections are in our community; many people simply ignore symptoms or stay home to wait out the virus and are not added to official counts. But COVID hospitalizations have increased in Clark County over the past week, and hospitals are near capacity — providing one measure of the virus’ impact in our area.

Six COVID-related deaths were included in the latest report from Clark County Public Health, bringing the region’s death toll to 807 over the past two years. COVID remains prominent in our community, calling for precautions and common sense.

Cheers: To affordable housing. The Clark County Council has adopted recommendations from the county’s Housing Options Study and Action Plan to help address a shortage of affordable housing. The idea, according to one county official, is to “identify ways to encourage development of affordable housing in the Vancouver area and in a manner that creates a variety of housing choices and a variety of housing types, including cost levels.”

The homeless crisis of recent years has pointed out the need to increase housing options throughout the region. The county’s program will focus on the urban growth area, allowing for density that can accommodate more people than rural areas.

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