Wednesday, October 23, 2002
The volume of letters we have received regarding the upcoming general election is amazing, and very gratifying. More than 60 letters have arrived at our office over the past three weeks, and we're scrambling to fit them all in. We do not recall seeing so many letters in any previous political season, and it's wonderful to see views from all across the political spectrum.
There also appears to be much more interest in the "candidates' nights" forums around the county. In previous years, some of these grass-roots political events were a bit embarrassing, because often there were literally more candidates in attendance than citizens.
That certainly hasn't been the case this year. Even during the primary campaign, the turnout has been high. For example, there were about 100 people at a September candidates' forum in Lyle, which typically might have seen one-third that number. People appear to be paying great attention to all the prospective candidates this year, and that is very healthy in a democracy.
However, hopefully the interest will be reflected in voter turnout. In the September primary election, only about 32 percent of Klickitat County's registered voters cast ballots. That's disappointing, to put it mildly.
To make an informed choice, citizens need to look at the individuals in the various political races. More than ever, it's vital to look beyond the "D" or "R" after a particular candidate's name.
In this year's general election, there will be 11 partisan races on Klickitat County ballots. These elections will decide who will serve us in the U.S. Congress, in the Washington Legislature, and in our countywide offices.
It's good to remember that our system relies on political balance -- and "checks and balances" -- to function properly. Whether on a national, state, or local level, it's generally not healthy over the long-term for any one political party to dominate. It's true that too much disagreement is not good for government -- but too much agreement can also be harmful to a democracy.
Like it or not, Klickitat County is not 100 percent Republican or 100 percent Democrat. For that reason, it is important that our overall representation not be 100 percent of either party. There are diverse interests here, and our representation ought to reflect that. Otherwise, too many voices can get excluded from the democratic process.
Personally, of the 11 partisan races on the ballot this year, six Republicans have earned my support, along with five Democrats.
The right to vote is American to the core. Regardless of who you decide to support, it's important to register your opinion. When you vote for the candidates of your choice, you truly help to build a stronger government.
Please vote on Nov. 5.