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Metro's split vote sparks concern

Metro officials are not worried about the split vote on their $50 million ballot measure to maintain the parks and natural lands owned by the elected regional government.

Ballot Measure 26-152 passed with 56 percent of the vote in the May 21 election, but although Multnomah County voters overwhelmingly approved the measure, it failed by narrow margins in both Clackamas and Washington counties.

Washington County Chairman Andy Duyck thinks the elected Metro Council should be concerned by the split.

“There are anti-Metro sentiments out on the edges they should pay attention to,” Duyck said.

The diminished support could be significant, because Metro put a lot of time and energy into crafting a proposal with the widest possible backing.

Surveys found that voters in the region were especially likely to support a measure that preserved water quality for fish and wildlife. The ballot title, written by Metro, stressed improving water quality in local rivers and streams for fish and other wildlife.

The surveys also found that with a carefully crafted ballot title and a good campaign, the measure might be supported by 65 percent of regional voters and be approved in all three counties. Two committees in support of Ballot Measure 26-152 raised a significant amount of cash and in-kind contributions — more than $332,000. There was no organized opposition.

Despite all that, the measure fell nine points short of the surveys’ estimate and failed in two of three counties.

Multnomah County voters were the key to the passage of Ballot Measure 26-152. It was approved by 60 percent of Multnomah County voters, compared to 48 percent in Clackamas County and 49 percent in Washington County.

There are a number of reasons to suggest the split results might be part of a worrisome trend. Support for Metro’s land measure has now fallen in each county over the years.

There are a number of possible reasons for the decreased support. For starters, Ballot Measure 26-152 was not intended to acquire any new land for preservation or open up any of Metro’s existing land to the public. Voters might have been disappointed that it will not do as much as the first two measures.

“It’s a lot more exciting to buy a new car than have your old car tuned up,” explained Jim Desmond, director of Metro’s Sustainability Center.




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