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Oregon voters are not irrelevant

The 2012 presidential election, like Hurricane Sandy, may seem far removed from Oregon, with all the action occurring many miles away. And the local ballot, without any contested city council races in Hillsboro, certainly lacks the sizzle of a Biden-Ryan smack-down.

But Oregonians shouldn’t allow their supposed irrelevancy in the national election or the calm at city hall deter them from returning their ballots by Nov. 6.

It’s true that President Obama and Mitt Romney have left Oregon on the sidelines — based on the assumption that the state’s seven electoral votes will go to Obama.

But there are plenty of other reasons — including the opportunity to influence the popular vote in the presidential race — for Oregonians to continue their tradition of high voter turnout during fall elections.

Statewide, voters will decide whether to phase out the estate tax and legalize marijuana (a recap of our picks are below). They will elect a secretary of state, labor commissioner, state treasurer and attorney general.

Here in the heart of Washington County, there’s a key public safety levy and a pair of legislative races that could determine which party controls the Oregon Legislature.

These local and statewide races can have more impact on Oregonians’ lives than a presidential race, so we encourage everyone to vote.

Measure 34-198: County

enhanced patrol district

Yes

Approximately 200,000 people in Washington County need a big-city police department, but don’t happen to reside within a city boundary. This measure would renew a five-year levy to support expanded sheriff’s patrols in those areas that have been in place since 1987.

Measure 77: Clarifies

disaster response

Yes

This amends the state constitution to give the governor authority to declare a “catastrophic disaster.” We hope it doesn’t come to that, but agree that the state’s chief executive should have this power in the event of a true disaster.

Measure 78: Updates up

constitution wording

Yes

This measure simply cleans up some language in the constitution to use more modern wording and eliminate some gender-biased phrasing.

Measure 79: Bans real

estate transfer taxes

No

Since Oregon law already bans new real estate transfer taxes this is a solution in search of a problem that would add yet another unnecessary clause to the state constitution.

Measure 80: The Oregon Cannabis Tax Act

No

We think it’s high time (sorry) to place some restrictions on Oregon’s medical marijuana dispensaries. This measure, by contrast, would loosen those regulations in a wild experiment with unpredictable consequences. Just say no.

Measures 82 and 83: Gambling

in Wood Village

No

This pair of proposals for a single gambling joint in East Multnomah County proved so unpopular that its out-of-state backers ended their campaign. But this bad idea, which threatened both the Oregon Lottery and tribal casinos, is still on the ballot. Vote no on both.

Measure 84: Eliminates estate taxes

No

We would support a look at reforming Oregon’s “death taxes” but this measure brings a meat ax to a job that needs a scalpel. The frighteningly broad proposal would completely eliminate Oregon’s estate tax for the state’s most wealthy residents and allow family members to avoid capital gains taxes by swapping high-value property.



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