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Vocal minority shouldn't rule silent majority

Aside from the merits or faults of a particular issue put to voters, we believe that casting a ballot is a responsibility that all local residents of voting age hold, due only to their citizenship.

And that responsibility holds true no matter what the question, no matter which election - even in an off-year election.

When we last studied democratic principles, we understood that the majority should listen to the minority's points of view, and then reach a decision that is good for all.

We did not discover any principle of democracy that allowed the vocal minority to decide in favor of its bias viewpoint. Nowhere could we find a statement that suggests the minority should prevail on the technicality that the opinion of the majority of voters was not tabulated.

And yet that scenario continues to occur regularly in off-year elections. When the ballot contains issues that do not involve a majority of legislators or the president, too many people have not voiced their opinion on their ballot.

We realize that voicing an opinion is issue-oriented: People do not want to get involved unless the issue affects them personally.

But in the election now before local voters, the issue affects everyone.

Which West Linn resident would not want adequate police protection? Who, of those local voters, would not want the fastest police response available? And which family would not want the library open at convenient times as well as a chance to enjoy fully maintained parks.

In the March election, all of those local services are at stake, according to information from city staff. The proposal is to reinstate the local option police levy at a rate increased only by the cost of inflation since 2002, the last time voters approved the levy.

If that does not gain approval, city leaders say there will be fewer police officers as well as fewer services in other areas of city government.

What could happen March 13? The vocal minority could speak with a voice loud enough to drown out the whispers of a silent majority.

Since this is an off-year election, to be approved a levy must receive ballots from more than 50 percent of registered voters as well as affirmative votes from more than 50 percent of the ballots cast.

Think about the question of adequate police protection. Is your answer yes or no? No other answers are acceptable.

You may answer yes by marking your ballot and mailing it by March 9 or dropping it in the box at the library by March 13.

You may answer no by marking no on the ballot and mailing it or taking it to the library.

You also may answer no by recycling an unopened ballot mailing.

Your silence on this issue is counted as a no answer.

We encourage all local voters to answer yes or no in the appropriate way.

And the only appropriate way is to turn in a marked ballot by March 13.