Knowledgeable voters required for primary election

YAY: Time to vote

Thurston County residents will start receiving their voters’ pamphlets this week for the Aug. 5 primary election. We know, it’s just the start of summer in the Northwest and it’s tough to focus on anything meaningful when the sun shines. But, thoughtful voting is really important, folks.

There are several races in the South Sound that could have significant impacts on the state Legislature – including the races for the state Senate and House in Mason County’s 35th Legislative District. Ballots start going out July 16.

Today is the last day for online or mail voter registration. You can register in person at the Auditor’s Office until July 28.

Of course, if you aren’t going to bother to learn enough about the candidates to make a knowledgeable choice, it’s probably better to stay home, or go to the beach.

YAY: We’re growing

Thurston County’s population grew by 1.5 percent in 2014, placing us among the top 10 unincorporated areas of the state experiencing high year-over-year population growth, according to the state Office of Financial Management. Since 2010, the unincorporated county has grown 4.65 percent, and has held steady at the state’s 6th largest county with about 3.75 percent of the state’s population.

The county grew faster than the state overall (1.25 per cent), mostly from a net gain of nearly 50,000 people moving into Washington. Cities, towns and counties on Puget Sound grew the fastest overall, although Spokane and Yakima counties broke into the top 10.

BOO: We’re growing

The population growth in unincorporated Thurston County, and our cities and towns has put an added burden on municipal finances. Because of citizens’ initiatives limiting property tax revenue and a recession that damped consumer spending and sales tax receipts, our local governments struggle to provide basic infrastructure and services.

YAY: Plastic bags fini

We’re one week into the ban on single-use plastic carryout grocery bags, and the world has not collapsed. Food shoppers in Olympia, Lacey, Tumwater and unincorporated Thurston County must now bring their reusable bags or pay 5-cents for a paper bag. The planet’s ecosystem thanks you.

YAY: Inclusive community

It was encouraging to see a large number of Thurston County’s faith-based organizations participate in the recent gay pride parade. It shows we are an open and accepting city.

BOO: Conspiracy theories

Do you think that big pharmaceutical companies are hiding the cure for cancer? Researchers at the University of Chicago found that nearly half of all Americans believe at least one medical conspiracy theory. In an interesting side note, the political scientists found that people who believe conspiracy theories are more likely to buy organic food and less likely to rely on traditional medicine.