The Olympian editorial board presents an expanded summary of some of the candidates and ballot measures it has endorsed for the Nov. 6 general election. All of the endorsements can be read in their entirety at www.theolympian.com/opinion.
Approval of Proposition 1 could have devastating consequences for Thurston County. Taxpayers could be saddled with enormous long-term debt and will almost certainly see an increase in property taxes. There is no guarantee of lower electric rates than current Puget Sound Energy rates. The long list of unanswered questions includes whether it is even legally possible for the TPUD to proceed with scenarios in its preliminary study. The expense of answering these questions, or fighting them in court, has the potential to bury a cash-poor small water utility. The PUD’s study doesn’t bother to address any legal issues. There are wider questions, too, about whether approving the proposition would adversely shift property taxes, with serious negative impacts on the county’s junior taxing entities, such as fire districts. PSE is Thurston County’s second-largest property taxpayer, so this is a critical uncertainty.
There’s no telling what Barack Obama might have achieved in his first term if he had inherited a nation unencumbered by a global financial crisis and two wars draining the government’s cash reserves. Obama’s first term provided a history lesson on the limit of presidential powers. Without a Congress willing to work together for the common good, one man alone cannot dictate prosperity. Despite the disappointments of his first four years, the president managed several remarkable achievements that in another time would have judged his presidency an unequivocal success.
10th Congressional District
Heck best represents the moderate-to-progressive views of Thurston County voters, advocating for a balanced approach of cuts and revenue increases to the budget and focusing on housing and job creation as the keys to economic recovery. Heck’s moderate, bipartisan approach could help fix a Congress that has focused on denying President Obama a second term, and has abandoned any will to solve problems.
Jay Inslee is more than the safe choice for Thurston County, he’s a better match with voters on a number of key issues: clean energy, health care and how to pay for fully funding K-12 education. Inslee’s approach of reducing total health care costs through incentives for healthful living and managed care for chronic illnesses is most likely to win cooperation from state unions. Washington is fortunate to have two bright candidates to succeed Gov. Gregoire – Rob McKenna, and Jay Inslee. But Inslee is the better choice for Thurston County.
Voters can’t go wrong with either candidate, but Finkbeiner would bring fresh ideas to the little-understood office and much-needed reforms to the senate’s rules that might foster improved bipartisanship.
Secretary of State
The voters of Thurston County have re-elected Republican Kim Wyman to four terms as county auditor. A balance of Republicans and Democrats, including the liberal Washington Education Association, endorses her. She also has the support from those who know best what it takes to run a fair election: 34 current and former county auditors on all sides of the political sphere. Wyman has the knowledge and heft of experience to run one of the nation’s most respected elections offices. Wyman is the most qualified choice to continue the deliberate nonpartisanship in the Secretary of State’s Office.
Incumbents Cathy Wolfe and Sandra Romero have exhibited great leadership by recognizing the impacts of the recession early in 2008 and acting decisively. While other governments mostly ignored the fiscal warning signs, Wolfe and Romero were leading the charge to reduce the cost and size of county government. By doing so they restored financial health to Thurston County. The challengers in these two races, Karen Rogers and Andrew Barkis, fail to present compelling reasons for change, primarily because they have simply adopted the rhetoric of county government haters.
Thurston Public Utility District
Linda Oosterman is the better choice, because as an outsider skilled in working with difficult people, she would bring decorum and order to the often unruly PUD commission meetings. Oosterman’s endorsements include Sen. Karen Fraser and Thurston County’s prosecutor, treasurer, assessor and current and former sheriffs. Her long list also includes Port of Olympia commissioners, a mayor and city council members. The Thurston PUD needs someone thinking outside its current group to help transform the district into a respected, well-run organization better equipped to even consider taking on something as complex as providing electrical power.
City of Olympia Public Safety Levy
City of Olympia voters must pass this fall’s public safety levy to avoid draconian cuts to the city’s police force. Without voter approval for a one-tenth of a percentage-point increase in the city’s sales tax rate, it will be forced to eliminate another four officers, the west-side station, support for special events held in the city and a number of popular programs, such as the Harbor Patrol, Explorer Program and Block Watch. The city has shown restraint in asking for a modest increase, and placing a burden on itself to spend public funds wisely and keep its focus on long-term financial sustainability. Unless voters are prepared to take significant cuts in public safety, the only choice is to approve Olympia’s public safety levy.