The general election results for 2009 are in, and the campaign signs are coming down from fields and yards around the area.
Local returns offered an intriguing mix of voters who wanted change and voters who wanted some stability. And there were some milestones as well.
In the latter category, we wish to congratulate Betty Barnes, who will be the city of Bingen's new mayor beginning in January 2010. Although she ran unopposed for the seat, her years of experience on the Bingen City Council probably played a large role in the fact that no one sought to challenge her, and that background will serve her well as she embarks on the next four years of leading the city of Bingen. Barnes will be the first woman serving as mayor of Bingen at least since the World War II era.
There were a handful of contested races around the community, with the two White Salmon City Council races topping the list.
In one of those races, incumbent council member Mark Peppel fended off a strong challenge from political newcomer Darlene Johnson. Peppel, who joined the City Council a year ago, in October 2008, has worked diligently in trying to boost the city. Before being appointed as a council member, he served on the White Salmon Planning Commission, as well as the city's comprehensive plan committee. The citizens of the community apparently noticed his investment of time on their behalf, and rewarded him for that. He has been a solid council member, and deserved a full four-year term.
In the other City Council race, two new faces to the political arena -- Anthony Coulter and Troy Wamsley -- competed for a council seat, and Coulter ended up with the victory. Coulter, an Insitu employee, has a background in mechanical engineering and in software development. He has been putting his skills to use lately by helping the city of White Salmon with Web site development. Coulter has been attending most City Council meetings over many months, and although he will be a newcomer to the council, he already has a pretty good grasp of what goes on there, which should ease his transition.
All in all, the council appears to be in good hands going forward to the new year.
The results in the Husum Fire District Commissioner race were surprising. Chuck Virts, the incumbent who had been appointed to the post in September 2008, was swamped in the election by Jim Hulbert. Virts has a solid background of experience in firefighting, fire investigation, and serving as fire chief, but voters apparently wanted a change.
Hulbert also has a distinguished background, serving as a forester and working in wildland fire protection and suppression for many years with the U.S. Forest Service. No doubt, part of Hulbert's strong showing came from ongoing controversy over payments for firefighting services between the city of White Salmon and Fire District No. 3. As Hulbert recently pointed out, many residents of Fire District No. 3 believe the White Salmon Fire Department is their fire department. Hulbert has pledged to work to ensure that Fire District No. 3 has a "better presence" in the urban growth area.
And we were heartened to see Initiative 1033 rejected by the state's voters. This ballot measure, which would have tied revenue collection for the state, counties, and cities to a formula based on inflation and population growth, would have weakened state and local governments at a time when budgets are already in serious trouble. This was yet another anti-tax crusade from gadfly Tim Eyman, and anything with his name on it is suspect from the get-go -- so it was gratifying to see his measure fail in a big way.
So the 2009 results are in, and we can take just a short breather from ads and signs and partisan competition -- because the mid-term elections are just a few months from beginning in earnest.