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Wednesday, October 4, 2023
Oct. 4, 2023

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Cheers & Jeers: Small businesses; voter apathy

The Columbian

Cheers: To small businesses. About 99.5 percent of private enterprises in Washington are considered small businesses, and those businesses account for approximately half of the state’s employment. So it was meaningful last week that Isabel Guzman, head of the U.S. Small Business Administration, took a tour of Vancouver. Guzman was accompanied by Rep. Marie Gluesenkamp Perez, D-Skamania, who sits on the House Small Business Committee.

In addition to being important to a local economy, small businesses are essential to creating a sense of community. “It’s a big deal that we got Administrator Guzman down here. That’s a big win for us to highlight the work that we’re doing in Southwest Washington,” Perez said. “I think it’s clear that she wants to be a partner in growing our resilient economy and supporting our small businesses.” Cheers go to local business owners who keep our economy running and keep money in the local area.

Jeers: To voter apathy. Approximately one-third of the voters eligible for this week’s special election bothered to turn in ballots. Or, put another way, about two-thirds of voters ignored their civic duty.

Low voter turnout is not unique to this election, but it is confounding that local tax measures draw such little interest; these votes have a more direct impact on our community than an election for, say, president or the U.S. Senate. As we have mentioned before, when you choose to not vote, you are allowing others to make decisions that affect your life and your pocketbook.

Cheers: To Je’Kai Kazmende. The Union High School sophomore recently took friends, family and interested onlookers on a walking tour of the Vancouver waterfront, pointing out places that have been meaningful to him. Those places evoke memories both happy and disappointing, relating to his experiences as a young Black man in a predominantly white city.

As a community ambassador for Portland-based nonprofit Word is Bond, Kazmende introduced his tour by saying, “You’ll never be able to step into my life but today I invite you to walk in my shoes.” It is a powerful example of how sharing our experiences and listening to each other can improve understanding throughout our community.

Jeers: To extreme weather. New research from Oregon State University details the impact of extreme heat on the Northwest’s signature evergreens. Following a record-breaking heat wave during the summer of 2021, tips of western red cedar, hemlock and Douglas fir limbs looked as if they had been scorched by flames.

The study is a reminder that climate change and extreme weather events are not only an inconvenience for humans, but have the potential to alter the landscape. Left unchecked, climate change will create vast changes in which plants can thrive in the region — including when it comes to agriculture.

Cheers: To, um, cheering. Vancouver’s Larry Bevans has been named the NFL’s Fan of the Year — but not because he cheers the loudest or has the most Seattle Seahawks tattoos. Bevans, head of the Southwest Washington Seattle SeaHawkers Booster Club, has been lauded in part for his charitable work, including working with groups that support foster children and homeless families.

Each NFL team nominates a fan of the year, and Bevans was selected out of those nominees as best exemplifying the spirit of the league. As a result, he won a trip to last week’s Super Bowl and was acknowledged at the NFL Honors awards show.