Leaders — let the voters decide


Imagine this thought: Government is intimidated by the voters. Let me get this right - Our elected officials would prefer not referring issues out to the voters, why? Because the voters may not agree.

Recently, Clackamas County Commissioner Paul Savas made a motion to refer the light-rail project to the voters, but the motion died because no other commissioner would second the motion. Why? We are talking about elected people, with the exception of some appointees.

Perhaps I am being naive to think that, after all, we as elected officials should want to represent the will of the people. What better way to find the will of the people than to ask them for their vote.

Could it be that the commissioners know full well how the people of Clackamas County will vote on the light-rail issue? How about the Sellwood Bridge? Could it be possible that the commissioners have an agenda and an ideology that does not reflect the majority of their constituents?

As some of you are aware, we have a similar story here in the city of Damascus. There is no doubt that in the last four years the City Council worked hard to put together a state required comprehensive plan for our new city. However, in May, the people of Damascus rejected the plan by a 2-to-1 vote with an excellent voter turn out.

The fact of the matter is that it was a citizens' group, 'Ask Damascus,' that filed the referendum to overturn the comprehensive plan. Ask Damascus has since filed another initiative, which I'll support because the initiative will ask you, the voter, what you think of the new comprehensive plan and the costs associated with it.

So why is this? Why do citizen groups feel they have to go to the trouble of getting the required signatures, spend their time, energy and resources to do this? It is because most elected officials feel they are more informed than the general population and that we, the little people, do not know what's best for our lives. In a perfect world-citizen groups wouldn't need to do this - but they do. Fortunately, we have the initiative process here in Oregon.

The ideal, of course, is we live in an atmosphere of trust, but until then I recommend every elected official in Oregon make friends with a good and honest citizen group, because we elected officials need the accountability and they are not going away anytime soon.

Steve Spinnett is the mayor of Damascus.