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The following is presented as part of The Columbian’s Opinion content, which offers a point of view in order to provoke thought and debate of civic issues. Opinions represent the viewpoint of the author. Unsigned editorials represent the consensus opinion of The Columbian’s editorial board, which operates independently of the news department.
News / Opinion / Editorials

In Our View: Voters must study candidates’ words, deeds

The Columbian
Published: October 24, 2023, 6:03am

As voters do their homework for the Nov. 7 general election, it is important to watch for developments that could impact their decisions.

That includes consideration of a minor controversy in the race for Port of Vancouver commissioner from District 1, where Russell Brent is challenging incumbent Don Orange.

As The Columbian’s Editorial Board wrote last week: “Don Orange originally was elected as Port of Vancouver commissioner with a platform of opposing a proposed oil terminal. Six years later, the terminal plan is long dead and the port has enjoyed record revenue. Orange is not solely responsible for those victories, but they demonstrate why The Columbian’s Editorial Board is recommending him for reelection.”

The editorial, which was published Wednesday, noted that this is simply a recommendation. We routinely urge voters to become informed about the candidates and issues before casting a ballot. The editorial also stressed that both candidates are worthy of consideration and could be effective, engaged port commissioners.

But subsequent facts generate some doubt about Brent’s candidacy.

During a joint interview with the editorial board on Oct. 11, Orange challenged Brent over a series of large campaign signs along roadsides. The signs included a small logo reading, “Union Supporter Printing,” although they were not printed by a unionized shop.

Brent acknowledged the subterfuge, blamed an “overzealous” member of his campaign team, and said he had apologized to local union leaders. He said he became aware of the issue two weeks prior and, upon questioning, added, “I’m going to cover up the union bugs.” When asked when he planned to do that, he said, “I’m going to start this afternoon.”

As of Monday, 12 days after the interviews, some union logos had been covered up while others had not. And from our observations, the process has been slow.

The Columbian’s Metro team reported on that aspect of the campaign on Oct. 14, and video of the editorial board interview is available online.

The importance of the issue will be up to voters to decide. Whether or not Brent is sufficiently supportive of unions and whether or not his campaign team made an honest mistake should be weighed against other factors relevant to the office of port commissioner.

But the editorial board is disturbed by Brent’s inattention to the issue and by his campaign team’s slow work in covering up the misleading logos. The events reinforce our belief that Orange will be more attentive to the needs and concerns of voters in overseeing a major public entity.

The matter points out the importance of voters paying attention to news surrounding candidates in the waning days of local campaigns. Meanwhile, we encourage voters to fill out a ballot and help determine who will lead our local institutions.

Here is a recap of The Columbian’s recommendations in contested races on the Nov. 7 ballot:

  • Vancouver City Council, Seat 6: Sarah Fox is a clear choice.
  • Port of Vancouver Commissioner, District 1: Don Orange is a clear choice.
  • Vancouver school board, Position 4: Kathy Decker. Nick Wells also is a strong candidate.
  • Vancouver school board, Position 5: Tracie Barrows. Larry Roe also is a strong candidate.
  • Evergreen school board, District 2: Chuck Keplar. Rob Perkins also is a strong candidate.
  • Evergreen school board, District 3: Victoria Bradford is a clear choice.