For some people, analyzing election results would be completely boring, almost unthinkable. For us it’s an opportunity to learn something about the citizens we serve.
In presidential polls, typically 1,000 individuals are asked who they will vote for in order to predict the winner. Statewide and local elections allow us to see what thousands upon thousands of voters believe in – or care about – and here are our interpretations.
Taxes are a hot button statewide and in the Lower Columbia region. This week’s election included advisory votes on three different new taxes enacted by the Legislature.
Voters rejected the first advisory vote, an excise tax on certain salmon and game fish. Statewide, 57 percent of the people voted to repeal the tax. In Cowlitz County, 70 percent of the people voted for repeal.
The second advisory vote, a business and occupation tax, also was unpopular. Statewide, 65 percent voted for a repeal; and locally, 77 percent voted for a repeal.
Finally, an advisory vote was conducted for changes to the property tax system, the primary funding agent for schools. Statewide, voters want the taxes repealed with 62 percent voting for the repeal. In Cowlitz County, 70 percent want the legislation repealed.
Clearly, both on a statewide and local basis, Washington residents are not too keen on taxes. Additionally, according to the voting percentages, rural citizens are against taxes at a higher level than statewide voters.
From a local standpoint, incumbents did well in the recent election. Kim Lefebvre, Steve Moon, C.J. Nickerson, Howard Sharples and Chet Makinster all were re-elected.
It appears most Cowlitz County candidates who advocated for more taxes were met with resistance at the ballot box. Candidates were elected who advocated for holding the line on issues such as car tab fees or who were against additional property taxes to extend roads, or to increase sewer or electric rates.
Kelso’s Love Overwhelming experience appeared to have some influence in both Kelso and Longview races. Candidates who advocated for low-barrier shelters were defeated. Homeless issues clearly are important to voters.
Kelso School District officials certainly watched the Longview school bond effort closely. Longview School District’s $122 million bond received 57 percent of the vote (it needed 60 percent to pass), which is more than we anticipated. From our standpoint, the outcome of the bond proposal held both bad and good news for the district.
The dollar amount of the bond was very high, we expect $122 million was too much for voters to swallow. It is hard to know what dollar level of bond would have received 60 percent of the vote, but we imagine a bond offering of $75 to $85 million likely would pass.
The district’s bond offering received 57 percent “yes” votes, so they were not too far off. The final vote tally shows the bond failed by about 217 votes.
Certainly all the effort that went into trying to get the $122 million bond passed provided significant learning and lessons for the school district. It can use this new-found knowledge to get the additional 217 votes next time. Our guess is voters in the Longview School District overwhelmingly support teachers and the administration, so if the bond amount was lower, voters would approve it.
The Toledo School District’s bond failed again. After almost getting a bond passed last year, the district asked for a smaller $12.9 million bond offering. It was heartbreaking to see this get voted down.
The proposed Toledo bond fell short by 34 votes, which isn’t much. The finally tally was 58 percent for the bond and 42 percent against it.
After two tries at getting a bond passed, and failing both times, it’s hard to imagine what Toledo voters might be inclined to support. Toledo High School is in terrible shape. The public should be embarrassed about the condition of the school.
We hope the Toledo School District gets some sort of bond passed.
We were a little surprised the Kalama police station and facilities bond failed by such a large margin. Only 35 percent of the voters approved the idea to build a new station, while 65 percent of the voters were against it. With the effort losing by such a large margin, it’s hard to imagine what sort of solution voters would support for the Kalama police station.
The proposed sales tax increase for Woodland to fund transportation improvements also failed. If passed, a Transportation Benefit District would have been established, but 53 percent of the voters were against the idea.
What we learned from the recent election results is really what we already knew. Voters from Cowlitz and surrounding counties are clearly against raising most taxes. Whether they are taxes to support schools, transportation needs or building a new police station, voters don’t want to pay more taxes.
Homeless issues continue to be a “hot button,” and we think the hangover from Love Overwhelming is still in the minds of many voters.
When it comes to voting, it seems the more things change, the more voters stay the same.