If you think your individual vote doesn’t make a difference, final election results in Woodland speak otherwise.
Woodland’s Proposition 1, which will expand police department staffing, passed by a single vote, according to certified election results from the Cowlitz County Auditor’s Office. Until Tuesday it had trailed by about five votes in the Nov. 5 general election count.
The levy lift passed 691-690, a difference of 0.08%.
Woodland Mayor Will Finn said the measure is not a “magic bullet or knight on a white horse,” but it will allow the police department to avoid gobs of overtime and officer burnout.
The measure will permanently increase the property tax rate by nearly 63 cents per $1,000 of assessed value. It will raise $576,000 in 2020 and more each year after that, reaching $667,985 by 2026. Those funds will pay for two police officers, one sergeant and their associated police equipment and training.
Supporters pointed out the department hasn’t created a new position since 2007 and has struggled to keep pace with the growing city. Critics pointed out the high price tag of the measure and suggested the city come back with a more modest proposal and a better overall plan for funding Woodland.
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Finn said he’s still concerned that the close finish indicates the community remains deeply divided over their priorities for the city.
The first round of voter returns on election night had the proposition trailing by roughly 20 votes, but it steadily made up ground as late ballots arrived over the next few days.
By mid-November, 1,369 ballots had been tabulated and the the race had only a five-vote margin. The Elections Office said then that it still had 14 ballots left to tabulate. Twelve of those were “challenge” ballots that had problems with voter signatures, but elections officials were able to “cure” them.
Nine more “yes” votes and three more “no” votes were tabulated since then, inching the measure to victory.
Finn earlier this month expressed interest in paying for a recount of the measure, which requires a request and fee from a group of five registered voters, due to how close the vote was. He said Wednesday that while he’d be in support of any citizens who want to pursue a recount, he no longer counts himself among them.
“I’m not going to go out actively and look for a recount,” Finn said. “I think ... (the) Woodland Police Officers’ Guild ... did a great job going out there, curing the ballots that had issues. ... Every vote was counted. In my mind that was my main concern.”