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Voters miss the boat on two great local opportunities

Washington County’s voters have spoken on two measures appearing on the Nov. 5 ballot. The results showed that in Hillsboro, as well as in Cornelius, a majority of those who took the time to vote were not inclined to offer any of their tax dollars to, respectively, boost schools or enhance the local library.

The Hillsboro School District asked citizens to support a $25 million bond measure that would pay for maintenance projects, provide safety improvements for the district’s many schools and allow the district to purchase more modern technological equipment.

The school district’s buildings need some major repairs, including new roofs in some cases, and the computers and other technology the district’s students and teachers use need to be upgraded.

But 54.52 percent of the voters in the school district said no. A total of 11,364 voters decided our schools could get by without repairs and without new equipment. To put that in perspective, there are approximately 20,000 students in the Hillsboro School District. Too bad the kids weren’t allowed to vote, because this directly impacts them.

Libraries are vitally important as well. In Cornelius, voters had a chance to endorse a unique development project called “Cornelius Place,” which, we believe, could have boosted the entire community.

The $2.4 million bond measure would have kicked off construction of a three-story downtown building that included two floors of affordable senior housing, a new library and an outdoor plaza to provide a site for a variety of outdoor programs and activities.

The new facility would have allowed the cramped Cornelius library to expand from just over its current 3,000 square feet to 16,000 square feet.

But 52.67 percent of those casting ballots rejected the proposal.

Our system relies on majority rule, but that doesn’t mean the majority doesn’t make mistakes.

The election results were disappointing, and equally disappointing was the embarrassing turnout. According to the Washington County Elections Division, only 31.39 percent of the county’s eligible, registered voters bothered to vote on the Hillsboro School District and Cornelius bond measures.

We endorsed both ballot measures, because we strongly believe providing a well-rounded education for our kids is critically important. They are our nation’s future, and we need to give them all the support we can. If our young people are not effectively educated, our entire society will suffer.

Luis Nava, a community activist in Cornelius who supported the library project, called it just right recently when, as ballots were about to go out in the mail, he urged local voters to support the measure.

“I’m telling the community this is going to cost money to their pockets,” Nava said. “But if we want something better, we need to invest.”

Nava has it exactly right. As citizens and as voters, it’s up to us to invest in the future of our communities.

Projects like these can provide a city with a big economic spark, and the relatively little amount of money that would be added to our property taxes would be more than made up by benefits for the entire community.

These bond measures would have brought dozens of valuable jobs for roofers, construction workers and others, and perhaps attracted further economic development as well. They could have reaffirmed support for the value of education and boosted a local resource for learning and research.

It’s a shame these two prime opportunities were lost.



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