Hats off: Some Nov. 6 takeaways, and the importance of ‘try, try again’

We offer three take-aways from the Nov. 6 General Election — one of praise, another of criticism and, third, an invitation:

Hood River County voters should take pride in being the most engaged of all voters in the state, with a 73 percent turnout compared to the 67 percent statewide average.

Yet voters have far to go regarding the protocols of voting by mail: In particular, correctly signing ballot envelopes. The county had to send letters to 200 voters this year who either did not sign the envelope, did so in a way that did not match their signature on file, or signed for someone else.

Note: Do not sign for someone else.

The time and delays involved in dealing with these “question” ballots costs all of us money, and is an unnecessary example of grit getting into the machinery. “Snowbird” voters who submit their ballot early and then head to Arizona disenfranchise themselves if they are unable to come to the elections office in person, as is required, to deal with a signature problem.

The list of good people who vied for public office is a long one, and that goes back to the 2018 Primary Election races. Not to call any of them out by name, but we hope that these unsuccessful candidates will look again at trying for elected office. It speaks well of this county, and our general level of engagement, that there were so many solid choices among those who did not advance, whether or not they had held public office before (okay, that’s you, Jeff Helfrich).

Please, run again, those of you who did not make the cut: Your talents and passions are well-known, and you’ve had what was, we hope, a positive experience that will help guide you the next time.

There are always openings on budget and planning committees and other appointed bodies, and when it comes to elected office, new rounds of school board, city council, port and county elections are coming around in two years or less.

When retirements or resignations happen, as they do once or twice a year, the need arises for interested people to apply to fill out those terms. This is another basic opportunity for public service.

In this, we call out one other candidate: Tim Counihan. His record of public service was likely what earned him the nod in a close race among that quality Hood River City Council field. Counihan has served in multiple ways. He was appointed to fill a city council vacancy a few years ago, later to lose the seat in an election. He then applied and was chosen to serve on city planning commission, and this year ran again for Hood River City Council and won. As a consequence, the city will benefit from Counihan’s experience and dedication.

This is an example of unsuccessfully running for one position and trying again when another opportunity comes along. So often we see people throw their hat into the ring once, fail to get elected, and we never see them attempt elected office again.

Those who tried should bide their time and try again, and those who have considered running again can look at the rich candidate fields we enjoyed in 2018 and see the benefit of offering themselves for public service.

Local politics is where stuff truly gets done. So, to all those officials who are leaving office for one reason or another, continuing on, or getting set to take a new oath of office in 2019, we give you our thanks.

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