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Our View: Looking ahead to the general election

2018 campaigns offer a chance for civility

Published on June 1, 2018 10:37AM

Now that the dust has settled on the 2018 primary, it is time to look ahead to the general election.

The number of young people eager to register to vote is encouraging, according to national reports. The law allows teens who are 17 to register in advance if they will be 18 on Nov. 6. The last day to register is Oct. 16.

The number of registered voters in Clatsop County is 27,251. Our primary saw a 36-percent voter turnout. We are not alone in feeling that is far, far too low and we welcome all efforts to increase it significantly in November.

We cannot stress this enough — many Americans have fought and died for your right to vote. Exercise it. Elections have consequences.

State and national choices

Nationally, the 2018 midterms figure to be a referendum on the Donald Trump presidency.

Every one of the 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives is up for grabs. So are 34 seats in the U.S. Senate. So, too, are more than three dozen governors’ seats, important because they provide a platform for states’ support of federal efforts.

Neither of Oregon’s U.S. senators is on the ballot this year. U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, a Democrat, seeks to retain her seat representing the North Coast in the House of Representatives, opposed by Republican John Verbeek, who won a three-way primary; Libertarian Drew Layda will also be on the ballot.

Statewide, a heated race involves liberal Democratic Gov. Kate Brown, a controversial figure who was appointed to replace the disgraced John Kitzhaber in 2015, then won the 2016 special election. She is seeking to retain her job, facing strong opposition from moderate GOP candidate Knute Buehler, a state representative from Bend. The two faced off in 2012 when Brown was elected secretary of state, an election characterized by bickering that left an unpleasant taste.

Betsy Johnson, our long-serving Democratic state senator from Scappoose, is running unopposed for re-election to another four-year term. With District 32 House member Deb Boone retiring at the end of this year, surprise Democratic Party primary winner Tiffiny Mitchell will face Republican Vineeta Lower in November.

County leadership changing

Our Clatsop County Board of Commissioners’ election May 15 settled races for two of the three seats. Experienced community leader Mark Kujala was elected and we look forward to his commonsense, positive addition to the board; Lianne Thompson, that love-her-or-dislike-her spark plug from South County, was given another four-year mandate. The third race was so close that Pamela Wev and Peter Roscoe must contest a November runoff.

Because of the way county rules are written, the two commissioners who chose not to run again, Scott Lee and Lisa Clement, are lame ducks through this calendar year. The current board is worth watching as the leadership dynamic will change significantly in January, whatever the result of the Wev-Roscoe race.

County voters will be asked to approve a 3 percent tax on the sale of marijuana items like concentrates, extracts and edibles in unincorporated areas. The tax is predicted to bring in $50,000, money not earmarked for anything specific.

Big-ticket bond measures are expected to be on the ballot. The county plans to ask for $23.8 million to relocate the jail to Warrenton. The Astoria and Warrenton-Hammond school districts may ask for $70 million and $32 million, respectively, for building projects. And the Sunset Empire Park and Recreation District is looking for $15-18 million to expand the aquatic facility in Seaside.

Lots of city seats

May 30 was the first day for city candidates to file a declaration of candidacy. They have until Aug. 28. Mayoral seats and a host of city council offices will be up for grabs.

• In Astoria, Mayor Arline LaMear is stepping down after one term and City Council seats held by Zetty Nemlowill and Cindy Price will be on the ballot.

• In Seaside, seats held by Mayor Jay Barber and City Council members Steve Wright, Tita Montero and Dana Phillips are on the ballot.

• In Warrenton, Mayor Henry Balensifer is up for re-election, as is city commissioner Rick Newton.

• In Cannon Beach, the mayor’s job, held by Sam Steidel, and City Council seats held by George Vetter and Mike Benefield are on the ballot;

• In Gearhart, City Council seats held by Kerry Smith and Paulina Cockrum will be on the ballot.

A call for civility

As 2018 dawned, we printed a clarion call on this page for civility. We’ll repeat that message now.

We lamented the turmoil our nation has endured since the divisive 2016 presidential election. Six months later, nothing has really changed. The divisive tone is surely not one any of us would choose. The longer it lasts, the worse it seems to get.

Like many of our readers, we yearn for leaders who will put country before party, behave ethically, and unite us in a common cause. The rest of the world used to look for us for leadership. Our American “can-do” attitude was the envy of the rest of the planet. That respect has evaporated.

No one single person reading this can fix that. But as individuals we can play our part in soothing the tone, especially by making sure our local elections do not reflect the negativity of the national and state contests. We have a lot in common with our neighbors despite the shrill voices of political discontent coming from both sides of the aisle.

Embracing civility is one key step to the healing that this country so obviously needs.


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