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Dont count out indies

The reason that many of us did not vote, as noted in the comment in your editorial May 16 Ñ 'only 21.35 percent of local voters had returned ballots' Ñis that many voters have decided to sign the petition to nominate state Sen. Ben Westlund of Bend as a centrist independent gubernatorial candidate ('Vote, then look to bigger change,' Insight).

In order to sign this petition, it is necessary to either change party registration to independent status before the primary election or to not vote in the May primary. Even though many of the races in this election are nonpartisan, any vote in the primary is considered by the elections office to be a vote for the party in which one is registered, and voting for any candidate in the primary Ñ whether partisan or not Ñ would negate the validity of a signature on a Westlund for governor petition.

Despite the acknowledged lack of centrist candidates from either major party, many of us have chosen to remain registered as Democrat or Republican and also wish to sign the Westlund petition, but because of this ridiculous quirk in Oregon election laws we are disenfranchised from voting in nonpartisan city and county elections.

If the major parties think that this law will do anything except cause even more voters to change their registration to independent, they have not been paying attention.

George Waldmann

Northeast Portland

New primary rules may not bring voters

Your editorial 'Blame campaigns for low turnout' says that Oregon should adopt the Keisling primary initiative, because under the current system, registered independents can't help decide who should be on the November ballot (May 19).

Your assertion is wrong. Independents can help decide who should be on the November ballot, by signing petitions for independent candidates and also for new parties. State Sen. Ben Westlund is circulating a petition as an independent candidate, and so is the Working Families Party. Independents can sign these.

Also, the Keisling initiative imitates a system used in Louisiana since 1978, and Louisiana primary voter turnout is even worse that Oregon's.

Richard Winger

Coalition for Free and Open Elections

Editor, Ballot Access News

San Francisco

Waterfront needs the right kind of transit

I'm sorry to disagree with Commissioner Sam Adams, but the success of the South Waterfront development district does not depend on the construction of a long-planned light-rail line that is not yet fully funded (Transit puzzle presents itself, May 5).

That line, the Yellow Line extension to Milwaukie, which will add to the effectiveness of the regional transit system, will not directly serve the South Waterfront district and thus will have no significant impact on it.

Nevertheless, the success of the district does depend on effective public transportation. Three improvements should be made. One is in the works, one should be in the works and, unfortunately, one was rejected when the city and OHSU decided to build the aerial tram.

First, the extension of the Portland streetcar to South Waterfront is in the works and, if operated frequently enough (at least every 10 minutes), will provide good transit service to downtown.

Second, the Macadam No. 35 bus route should be rerouted to serve the district. Its service level should also be increased to TriMet's 'frequent service' status (15 minutes or better all day). This route provides direct service to Lake Oswego, West Linn and Oregon City, as well as additional access to downtown.

The third improvement that would have provided direct transit service to Southwest Portland, Beaverton, Washington Square, Tigard, Sherwood and Tualatin was an OHSU underground people mover that would have connected to all these routes. This option was summarily rejected by decision makers in favor of an aerial tram that would fly over all the bus routes that serve these communities.

Ironically, it was rejected because it was deemed too expensive at an estimated cost of $50 million.

Jim Howell

Northeast Portland

Cyclists can do more to protect themselves

One night recently while driving through the tunnel on U.S. Highway 26, going from Beaverton to Portland, I first passed one bicycle rider going down the Sunset Highway in dark clothing without any taillights, then another two; before I had finished going through the tunnel there were probably 30 to 40 bicyclists in multiple lanes, most in dark clothing, and most without lights or even reflectors.

This is an accident waiting to happen. They appeared to take the City Center exit.

This is not the first time that I've encountered dark-clothed and unlit cyclists, but this is the first time that I've encountered so many all around the same time in the evening.

Samuel Butler

North Portland