Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Reporter's Notebook

John McDonagh can be reached at

The quiet before the storm

For the most part, the election is over. A few races still hang in the balance, but the majority have been decided. The next few days will likely be pretty quiet, and then the real work begins.

Oh, what an interesting set of results we have.

On the partisan list we have Democrats and Republicans each winning six positions (two races were too close to call at deadline). Even with the “change is needed” mantra being repeated across the country, eight of nine local incumbents were re-elected with just one race undetermined.

Let’s not forget about the “no tolls” bunch. By our count, eight candidates ran on an anti-tolling platform regarding the yet to be finalized Columbia River Crossing. Of those candidates, just one was victorious, six fell to defeat and one race is still too close to call.

Looking at how the initiatives faired, a two-thirds majority result should serve as a sign for the state legislature to use that same percentage when deciding to raise taxes without a vote of the people. Tax and spend measures all went down in defeat, including a crushing rejection for the proposed income tax on high-wage earners.

Voters were also convinced the state should stay in the liquor and insurance business. A measure that would have opened liquor sales to private retailers failed to pass, as did legislation to give employers the chance to purchase workers compensation policies from private insurers.

So what does all this mean?

For one, voters know we’re in a fight and feel it’s better to continue with the folks we know, rather than risk it to a newcomer. It also means taxes don’t play well in a recessionary economy – a message we hope the returning legislators remember. Finally, Tuesday’s election shows we’ll need more creative solutions to deliver the services voters want from government, as resources continue to shrink.