Editor’s note: Today’s editorial originally appeared in The Columbian. Editorial content from other publications is provided to give readers a sampling of regional and national opinion and does not necessarily reflect positions endorsed by the Editorial Board of The Daily News.
The new year is upon us, a time to look ahead and resolve to make positive changes. While most resolutions are of a personal nature, revolving around, say, finally losing those extra pounds or saving money, we thought our elected officials and others could use a few suggestions for resolutions we’d like to see them make for 2018.
Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Battle Ground: Resolve to conduct actual town hall meetings. The four-term congresswoman’s telephone town halls, with their screened questions, or her small coffee klatches, with preselected participants, are little more than echo chambers. We realize town halls can get loud, but democracy is seldom quiet. Residents of the 3rd Congressional District deserve the opportunity to tell their elected representative what’s on their minds in a free, open forum.
Town hall attendees: Resolve to be respectful, peaceful, and maintain civil discourse.
Democrats in the state Legislature: Resolve to strive for bipartisanship, even though you now control the governor’s office, the House and the Senate. After November’s election, Democrats hold a 26-23 majority in the Senate (although at least one Democrat is closely aligned with Republicans) and a 50-48 edge in the House. Those margins are hardly commanding. Gov. Jay Inslee acknowledged as much, when he said after the election: “With very closely held margins like this, neither party controls the Legislature.” Quite so.
Although some legislative Republicans have uttered cries of doom and gloom, we prefer the attitude of state Sen. Lynda Wilson, R-Vancouver, who said she’s not too concerned about the so-called “blue wall”: “If you can disagree respectfully and present your views thoughtfully, that goes a long way in the legislative process.” Indeed. The Legislature faces a short, 60-day session in 2018 and there are issues too pressing to waste time on divisive politics. There is still work to do to fully fund K-12 education, and the capital budget is, as Sen. Annette Cleveland, D-Vancouver, declared, “our No. 1 priority.” So resolve to get work done.
The Clark County Council: Resolve to lift the ban on recreational marijuana businesses in unincorporated parts of the county. A recent report presented to the council said the county would have received $468,538 for fiscal years 2016 and 2017 had it allowed marijuana sales. We disagree with Councilor Eileen Quiring that cannabis “doesn’t seem to produce very much in the scheme of things.” Nearly $500,000 is significant. And the county is spending considerable resources in a court battle with Sticky’s Pot Shop in Hazel Dell, which is challenging the county’s ban and has been allowed to operate while the matter is adjudicated. Councilor John Blom’s common-sense stance should guide the council’s decision-making: “The reality, whether we like it or not, is that it’s here in our community and we need to set policy based on the facts, not on our personal opinions.”
License plate scofflaws: Resolve to get your vehicle licensed in Washington. You are breaking the law and costing the city of Vancouver $300,000 per year in lost revenue. That money helps maintain streets that you use, so do your fair share.
News media: Resolve to not be cowed into second-guessing your work by never-ending cries of “fake news!” Journalists are human beings who are imperfect and therefore make mistakes. But they also are quick to acknowledge and correct those mistakes, which is a sign of professionalism and dedication to the truth, not of some twisted bias. An informed public is vital to our democracy, even if it sometimes can’t handle the truth.