Retain Reitz

We are thrilled that Chrissy Reitz is seeking to retain her seat on the Hood River County School Board (HRCSB). Chrissy is dedicated to the enrichment, academic growth and equity of children throughout the district.

Chrissy founded the Gorge Kids Triathalon with the idea that she’d put together a fun and athletic event for kids while raising money. She is also highly involved with Music Festival of the Gorge. These programs respectively benefit and fund PE/fitness programs and music programs in all Hood River County schools.

Chrissy is an active board member of the Hood River County Education Foundation (HRCEF). This organization is dedicated to raising money to boost academic growth for current district students, as well as HRVHS graduates. HRCEF provides tens of thousands of dollars each year supporting HRVHS seniors with college scholarships. Chrissy believes that every child in the district is entitled to a quality education. She works hard to ensure this.

Besides her willingness to work hard and her dedication to our community, Chrissy is accessible! If you don’t know Chrissy — if you haven’t seen her at your school event, or the boundary review open houses, or a school play, or school craft fair or fundraiser, we encourage you to reach out to her: Chrissy.Reitz@hoodriver.k12.or.us. Conversations with Chrissy usually result in smiles and laughter. We encourage you to retain Chrissy Reitz for Position 1 on the Hood River County School Board.

Erick and Katie Haynie

Hood River

SB 1008

Having read the first few chapters of Gerta Saunders’s “Memory’s Last Breath,” where she describes the brain development of young men and women, I strongly support SB 1008, which improves legal treatment of young offenders.

The last 20 years of brain research has clearly shown us that the brain is not fully developed in all humans until well into their 20s. This is particularly true of the male brain. Many of us who have raised males have been aware of this fact for a long time. We just needed a neurologist to support our knowledge as their parents. Placing adolescents in an adult prison facility for any extended time will not enhance, and mostly likely will hamper, any chance of continued brain development and maturation.

Looking at SB 1008 as a big improvement in the existing situation, I support the majority of fellow Oregonians in favor of the bill.

Linda Chamberlain

Hood River

Reconsider

We all want and need the services provided by our public agencies of Hood River County, including public safety. And it’s true we all enjoy one of the lower permanent property tax rates in the state. While it’s also true tourism puts incremental burden on our public agencies, Hood River County is not unique. Tourism in Oregon is a major part of our economy. There are two deep rooted aspects of the county’s budget woes creating cause for concern: (1) rapidly rising personnel costs, salaries and overheads of total compensation, including rapidly rising costs of the Public Employees Retirement System (PERS); (2) disparity and inequities created within the property tax system by Measure 50 back in 1997.

The two proposed tax measures (14-65 and 14-66), if approved, would provide a revenue increase of about $4,000,000 annually per county materials provided. This amounts to an increase of about 30 percent over current revenues and greater than the $1,460,000 budget shortfall presented.

Raising taxes, while seemingly the only available option to solve the current budget shortfall, is a slippery slope and rarely reversed. Rapidly increasing personnel costs and PERS must be addressed head on. Many have suggested PERS cannot be fixed. The burden PERS is creating for all public agency budgets is out of control, and kicking this can down the road again and again will lead to even greater financial hardship for everyone.

Oregon political leadership refuses to address the PERS problem, and Oregon political leadership made a mess out of our property tax system. But to avoid financial disaster, can public entities band together, including Hood River County, and initiate discussions statewide to find creative solutions for long term solvency that do not punish the tax payers of Oregon?

Raising taxes is not creative. Fiscal responsibility is a fundamental requirement to maintain the public trust in all of our governmental entities. Raising taxes and ignoring the root cause of the problem is not a solution I can support.

Mark Smith

Hood River

Vote for CSWD

All elections matter, but local elections are particularly important in shaping our community. On May 21, the Special District Election will decide two ballot measures and elect members for District Boards across Hood River County.

There are candidates for most of the many board positions up for election, which is a tribute to the civic spirit of our community. But there are gaps. These gaps can be filled after the election through board appointments, but would more organically be filled at election time through write-in campaigns. Where no one filed for office, the hurdles for electing a write-in candidate are basic. Besides being eligible for the position (requirements vary with the district), candidates must receive a modest minimum threshold of correctly spelled write-in votes (and more votes than any eventual competition).

I would like to encourage write-in campaigns for all positions without official candidates — and more specifically for the Crystal Springs Water District (CSWD), where there are only two candidates for three positions.

Besides avoiding a post-election appointment of one of the three positions, a successful write-in campaign could help raise awareness for CSWD’s evolving infrastructure and strategies, and for their implications on consumers.

CSWD is in the midst of a major and much needed upgrade of a seriously outdated and aged water distribution infrastructure. The goal is a more resilient and versatile system, with strategically located water storage tanks, drastically reduced water leakage, easier maintenance, and expanded water quality monitoring. These are all important benefits for the community, but they come at increasing costs for consumers.

The balance between service and cost, and associated improvement priorities, are among the impactful decisions facing the CSWD Board — now and into the foreseeable future. Consider bringing your voice and ideas to the table, through a thoughtful write-in campaign.

(Disclaimer: Antonio Baptista is a Commissioner at Crystal Springs Water District, whose term runs through 2021. The opinions expressed are his, and do not purport to represent CSWD or its Board of Commissioners.)

Antonio Baptista

Mt. Hood-Parkdale

Reset button

First of all, let me say that I have a great appreciation for the services that we receive from our Hood River county government. And I am sympathetic to the budget pressures that the county is experiencing that has led to the May ballot measures that are intended to raise additional revenue.

But I do have concerns about the source of the cost drivers and the process to run the campaign to raise the revenue.

Like most of you, I have received multiple mailers telling me why I should vote yes on the tax on meals and the property tax increase. The mailers are paid for by Safe & Healthy HRC. I looked up the group’s PAC on Orestar to see where their funding is coming from. I learned that the biggest donation by far ($10,000) to fund the Vote Yes campaign has come from AFSME, the Association for State and Municipal Employees.

AFSME is one of the strongest government employee unions in the state. Why am I concerned to learn of their involvement in HR County elections? AFSME has been a long-standing opponent of Public Employee Retirement System (PERS) reforming Salem. Each time the legislature tries to take up the issue in order to reign in the increasing costs to public employers (like HR County) AFSME and other government employee unions use their political clout to stop the process. One of the prime personnel cost drivers for the county over the past several years has been PERS, and the increased costs to employers because of the massive unfounded liability of the pension plan. Now AFSME is bringing its clout to Hood River County to support taxing the private sector (you and me) in order to help the county balance its budget. Does this seem right to you?

As I said, I appreciate the county and the services they provide. But I also think we have an opportunity to push the reset button and have a conversation about consolidating city-county series that allow our local government to operate more efficiently and help our county remain affordable for current residents. Just say NO to big money trying to influence our local election!

Donald Rose

Hood River

Vote Cross

Throughout my career, I have had the opportunity to attend probably hundreds of board meetings as a member, as outside legal counsel or as an observer. In my experience, the most functional and effective boards share one quality — board members who are intelligent, organized, willing and able to voice their opinions without alienating other board members, and dedicated to the mission of the organization that they serve. That does not mean, of course, that there is always agreement, or that people are always happy with their opinions, but if they possess the above qualities, it is much more likely that the organization will thrive.

In the summer of 2017, the club youth water polo program in Hood River was in danger of folding. I got together with a few other parents to form a board and restart the program. Today it is a thriving, well-functioning program with enthusiastic kids, parents and coaches, and what I hope is a bright future in this community. Suzanne Cross has been the Secretary of the Water Polo Board since the beginning, but I think everyone would agree that she pretty much runs the organization. She is unfailingly organized, diplomatic in meetings, creative in her thinking about where we should go next, and dedicated in the same way that she is dedicated to her job and her family. She is, in short, the epitome of everything described above. If every board that I have ever been a part of had a Suzanne, all of those organizations would be better off.

I know that there are those who have differing views than Suzanne on at least one issue. I appreciate those differences, but I believe that it is not differences as much as the way that people navigate them that matter. Suzanne would not be running for Parks and Rec if she did not believe in its mission, and I have every confidence that she will approach this board with the same integrity, grace, and intelligence that she approaches everything else with which she is involved. She has my vote.

Jennifer Hackett

Hood River

Vote Chrissy

Chrissy Reitz is a hard-working, intelligent and thoughtful leader on the school board. She volunteers countless hours supporting our school district and ensuring our kids get the quality education they deserve. As board chair, she listens carefully to feedback and makes sure that all perspectives are valued.

With a new superintendent joining our district next year, we need Chrissy’s invaluable leadership and thorough understanding of school district goals more than ever. 

For community members in the Westside area and Cascade Locks, we urge you to vote for Chrissy Reitz!

Liz Whitmore

Hood River

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