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Seventeen letters that pretty much cover Columbia County's sweeping political landscape as the May 16 election closes in. Ballots were mailed Wednesday. Here's a chance to find out who your neighbors are voting for.

FILE PHOTO - Letters to the editor published April 28.

Envision Columbia County offers endorsements

The upcoming election for two positions on the Port of St Helens Commission is vitally important to our community. The Port is a special district within the county with assets of $42 million, which include recognizable properties such as Port Westward near Clatskanie, Scappoose Bay Marina and Scappoose Industrial Airpark, and other industrial properties. Decisions made by the Port commissioners affect the entire county in many ways, including through taxes, loan payments for the Port Westward urban renewal area and economic growth.

A big issue people will be coping with is the increase in the number of unit trains hauling volatile petroleum products to Port Westward, causing more blocked traffic in the county's cities, which can create health and safety issues. The county does not have the resources to build the infrastructure needed to solve this problem.

Is coping with unsolved traffic congestion worth the few permanent jobs being created at Port Westward? The Port district owns land, the commission makes decisions, and citizens pay for financing many of those decisions.

Typically, Port commissioners have been re-elected year after year without fanfare. This election is different. We have the opportunity to substantially change the way the Port functions.

This is a turning point in Columbia County history. You can vote for a new generation of leaders who will listen to everyone, not just the corporations. You can vote for candidates with plans to move forward, not move backward.

The members of Envision Columbia County have decided to endorse two candidates who will put the Port on a path to a better future. We urge you to act on behalf of future generations and vote for Melinda Bernert and Megan Kunkel-Hallstone for Port Commission on May 16.

Carroll Sweet, co-chair

Darrell Whipple, co-chair

Envision Columbia County

Border walls are easy to bypass

Border walls are obsolete. A protective barrier may have been great for caveman or walled fortresses when combat was mano a mano and locomotion limited to horse speed.

The barricades of the walled cities extant in Europe today are for show and tell. Even the Great Wall of China, over 13,000 miles long, serves no other purpose than a tourist destination. The Berlin Wall, now gone, refreshes bitter memories of the U.S./Soviet Union standoff with vivid images of the human toll, and carries brutal baggage of shame and death.

We do recognize legitimate borders — a hypothetical line agreed upon by men to denote territorial sovereignty. Borders are not walls. Check in Europe and our northern border. During the early 20th century, when Prohibition was in force, Canada was a problem we solved by the diplomacy of legalizing booze.

Drugs, you say? That is discounting the contraband from Europe, the Caribbean, Canada or the Far East. Might as well propose an Atlantic, Gulf, Pacific, and Canadian wall.

Trump could legitimately claim greatest wall-builder status. Migrants and undocumented immigrants, you ask? Migrants bolster our food chain. Let's help Mexico's economic growth to diminish the urgency of border crossings.

What is the relevance of border walls today? Why does the National Rodent League laugh its guts out at the mention of walls? Reality check: In the few years I lived in San Diego, the U.S./Mexico barrier was proven ineffective by means of sophisticated tunneling. Today we jet everywhere, rocket travel is next, and our kids play with drones as a hobby. All this makes even a 100-foot-tall wall obsolete.

We implore Congress to check with any rodent kindergartner about the feasibility of funding such a monument to ineffectiveness. They are smart. Listen to what they have to say about walls and how to circumvent them.

Hal Ritz

Scappoose

To the mothers left out of Mother's Day

I wanted to write this last Mother's Day but didn't wish to burst anyone's bubble. So I thought I would jump start the big day of delusions for so many families who just don't fit into "love you mom" drippings of honey cards, bunches of flowers, a dinner and a peck on mom's cheek.

Mothers love their new babies, it doesn't matter whether they were planned or spawned. Moms can remember 40 years later the smell of their hair and touch of their tiny hand. It is this depth of emotional bonding that crushes the very soul of a mother when her children dishonor her, disrespect her, insult her, use her generosity and caring to manipulate, con, steal and disgrace without explanation or thanks for all she has done. And no, it is not always how parents raise their children. Their character is also molded by their community, schools, churches and peers. Mothers grieving estranged, narcissistic adult children stop trying to make sense of it. It will be the death of you if you don't. To you [children] Honor Thy Mother and Father and you will be Blessed! [you don't have to like them, just honor them] So this is for all the despondent mothers on Mother's Day. It's for the single mothers who struggle to handle things alone and get blamed for anything and everything that goes wrong; the mothers who have lost a child in war, or to jail or prison, or accidents, overdoses, illness, divorce, murder or death, or taken from you by the courts and or kidnapping; the mothers whose child is disabled, always seeking that extra strength and endurance day by day; the mothers and grandmothers who will see no card or flowers, or receive a call or a visit — we sympathize with you, we honor you and bless you.

Lest we not forget to say, "Happy Mother's Day!"

Elizabeth Wallace

St. Helens

Revelations while being trapped by a train

On Sunday, March 23, right about noon, I was trapped on the river side of Highway 30 for 17 minutes by a tanker train. All three exits from the downtown area of St. Helens were blocked. I know — I tried all three.

So, I decided to use my "trapped" time fruitfully to count and identify the tanker cars. There were four engines, two boxcars and 103 tank cars.

Approximately 31 of the tankers were labeled "1987," the designation for denatured alcohol. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, and the Department of Transportation were involved in this "1987 Hazard Label" because, according to Cameo Chemicals (noaa.gov), denatured alcohol is a "Flammable Liquid Poison."

Now that's a mouthful, but I have more. The remainder of the tank cars were labeled "1170," which is the designation for ethanol. Here I ran into a bit of a problem. I could not find information on the Internet about the difference between ethanol and 2-butoxy ethanol. Every search went to 2-butoxy. A =hazard summary for this chemical states it is a carcinogen (cancer-causing) chemical; that it is combustible; that gases are produced in fire; and that containers may explode in fire.

I spoke with Paula Miranda, the current interim general manager of the Port of St. Helens, who in turn spoke with a person at Global Partners/Columbia Pacific Bio-Refinery at Port Westward. Miranda said this person at Global stated he was unaware of the type of ethanol which was being shipped and that it would not matter which type is shipping.

Miranda also thought perhaps the labels I counted and identified could have been hauling other materials because the railroad might be carrying other materials in those tankers marked as hazardous. She offered to put me in touch with someone from Global or from Portland and Western Railroad, but I told her I would rather read research from those who would not profit by these shipments.

A second phone call from Paula Miranda told me she had received a call from the general manager of Global Partners. This fellow told Ms. Miranda that if they were shipping butoxy ethanol, they and the railroad would need special permits.

It would be interesting to know how to identify those chemicals as they pass by our homes and schools.

And it is worrisome that tank cars marked as one item might be carrying something else entirely.

Once again, the voters in Columbia County have the opportunity to replace the old guard commissioners at the Port of St. Helens.

Incumbent Chris Iverson has served on the Port for approximately seven years and wants to retain that position. Robert Keyser was ousted two years ago by current Commissioner Paulette Lichotowich after serving on the Port Commission for over 10 years.

Both Iverson and Keyser supported the shipment of crude oil and coal — and now the above-mentioned dangerous toxic chemicals — to Port Westward. Both candidates have been part of a "no transparency" commission for far too long.

The current Port of St. Helens commissioners are in the process of attempting to industrialize the farmlands at Port Westward — some of the best producing farmlands in the country. It appears they have even applied for a $1.5 million grant from the state of Oregon for a feasibility study.

Why not ask the citizens of Columbia County if they want to continue with the shipment and storage of filthy and explosive fossil fuels in our county? Are the citizens going to be a part of this feasibility study? I very much doubt it.

We need more new people to sit on the board for the Port of St. Helens.

As one of our newly elected county commissioners has said, if you can't get it done in five years, then you need to move on.

There appears to be a widely spread number of candidates for the two Port positions. I know very little about any of them with one exception.

The most important thing to remember is we need to elect new people. We must not allow failed projects and poor decisions on fossil fuels to bankrupt the county. We need new voices and new decisions. Please cast your ballot for anyone who has not previously served on the Port Commission.

Just thought you would like to carefully choose your Port of St. Helens Commissioners this time around.

Nancy Whitney

St. Helens

What is up with the Port?

Something is going on at the Port of St. Helens. Without input from the public, three commissioners (Commissioners Paulette Lichatowich and Larry Ericksen were absent) met in executive session with a land use attorney and then came out of executive session and voted to resubmit the rezone plan denied by the state's Land Use Board of Appeals in 2014.

The plan, which would rezone over 800 acres of land adjoining Port Westward from agricultural to industrial, was initially denied because of widespread public opposition and the fact that the port cited no specific uses for the newly rezoned land. At this time the port continues to insist that they have no concrete plans for the land but are pushing this plan for "future use."

Why is this being pushed through now? There are so many reasons why this is poorly timed.

1. The current director has resigned and a search will soon be underway for a new director.

2. The May election will bring at least one, and potentially two, new commissioners.

3. There is no shortage of industrial land in the county.

4. The port has numerous properties in need of development.

5. The farms that were a focus of the movement against the initial plan have not relocated.

Could there be a secret plan in the works? According to the Port the time for citizen input was four years ago when this rezone was first proposed. A lot has happened in the county in the last four years, some of which might be impacted by 800 acres of mystery industry at Port

Westward.

If the whole proposal is aboveboard, why is it being designed in secret?

We, the citizens of Columbia County, appear to be totally ignored in this process.

The plan will be sent for approval from the county commissioners "soon." I look to them to have a more thoughtful and democratic process for determining the future of our community.

Carroll Sweet

Scappoose

For Port Commission, we're voting for Bernert

We are voting for Melinda Bernert for Port of St. Helens commissioner.

Melinda and her husband, Mark, have lived in Warren for nearly 30 years. We have known them most of that time. Their tugboat company is based here and has been part of a family operation for over 100 years on the Columbia River, from the mouth to the upper reaches of the Snake River. They are deeply connected to the local and regional economy.

Melinda understands the importance of well-paying jobs. But she also is concerned that the Port has often pursued projects that could have significant negative consequences for all the communities along the railroad. She is concerned that the Port has been unwilling to discuss the impacts of their proposed rail-intensive projects on the families and businesses of south Columbia County.

The Port's indifference and lack of transparency is a strong reason for a change in direction. We believe Melinda will ask the right questions as a Port Commissioner and will support economic development that makes sense for the whole county.

Join us in voting for our future. Vote for Melinda Bernert. Chip and Nancy Bubl Warren

Brady brings a bunch of litigation potential

The Spotlight reported last week (see "Democratic committee sued in small claims court over policy breaches," A4) that Port Commission candidate Brady Preheim has filed yet another lawsuit in the county court system, this time against the leadership of the local Democratic Party organization. 

Court records indicate that Mr. Preheim has sued or been sued over a dozen times in as many years. 

That's a big ol' Brady bunch of litigation.

The record paints a picture of someone who does not play well with others. Putting such a person on the Port Commission would likely cause more problems than it solved. 

I'm convinced Mr. Preheim lacks the temperament to be an effective leader, which is why I will be supporting Megan Kunkle-Hallstone and Melinda Bernert for Port Commissioners.

Jeff Campbell

Scappoose

Maloney is caring, compassionate

When it comes to our school board members, no one has been a champion for transparency and has fought harder for our students and parents than Lisa Maloney.

I've known Lisa for over 20 years, and know her to be a caring, compassionate person who has done an outstanding job serving our community. Lisa does her due diligence before each board meeting so we can be assured she is always making thoughtful decisions.

I urge you to re-elect Lisa Maloney for Scappoose School Board.

Larry Ericksen

Scappoose

Lewis and Lager for Scappoose Shool Board

We would like to express our support for Joe Lewis and Philip Lager for the Scappoose School Board.

Joe Lewis is currently the chair of the board, and Phil is the vice chair.

We originally knew Joe as a neighbor for about four years and have known him as a friend for 37 years. Joe is finishing his fourth term on the school board. He has been on the school board during lean times and times of growth. His experience serving during these times is valuable as the district continues to grow and is dealing with lean budgets.

Joe is extremely familiar with not only the school district, but also the community of Scappoose. He worked for the city of Scappoose for 33 years in the Department of Public Works. He retired from the city in 2013.

Besides having children who graduated from Scappoose schools, he and his wife currently have grandchildren in the district.

As the vice chair of the school board, Philip Lager is scheduled to become its next chair. Philip attended Scappoose schools from the fourth grade through high school, graduating in 1993. He then earned a degree in public policy and administration from Western Oregon University in Monmouth. Phil has children in the sixth and eighth grades in Scappoose.

We have known Phil since he was eight years old, and for 34 years we have watched him grow into a fine young man who is helping to make our community better.

Both Joe Lewis and Philip Lager work well together for the betterment of our community and its students. Their experience on the Scappoose School Board is needed in the years ahead as the community and its schools continue to grow.

We enthusiastically encourage you to vote for Joe Lewis and Phil Lager for the Scappoose School Board. Both have consistently worked for the betterment of all students in the district.

Dave and Penny Ehrenkranz

Warren

Won't back down from a parade

Portland cancelled a parade because the Multnomah Republican Party was planning on participating. Anarchists, be advised: Columbia County Republicans will be participating in all county parades and activities. We will not be intimidated and many of our liberal friends will be standing with us. Larry Ericksen Chairman

Columbia County Republican Party

Donny Leader gets my vote As a professional and former graduate of the Scappoose School District, I am excited to show my support for Donny Leader for Scappoose School Board, Zone 4.

I have known Donny Leader for most of my life, but over the past 12 years I have had the pleasure to get to know him better. Donny Leader is a dedicated community member, true advocate for kids, and involved parent. He steps up when he is called on to serve, whether that be to volunteer coach, become a den leader for Boy

Scouts, or help out the community, friends or family. On several occasions, I have witnessed him stand up for a child when an adult was not treating them fairly. "Integrity," "reliable" and "family man" are the most honest descriptive phrases I can use to describe him. Being employed with the city of Portland, he has been successful in his career and works hard for the betterment of the community, along with dealing with critical issues, such as money. I have seen him on his own time doing research for the city of Portland, making sure he doesn't go over budget and critically thinking about what is truly needed and best for Portland in the long term. Donny Leader is the best candidate for the job, and I encourage you to vote for him for Scappoose School District, Zone 4. Dr. Kendall Liday Warren

Leader builds partnerships, listens

The Scappoose School Board election is on May 16 and I am definitely endorsing Donny Leader, community volunteer and my friend, for one of the seats.

Donny Leader has been a member of this community his entire life and his commitment shows in everything he does in and around Scappoose. His career with the city of Portland gives him an interesting perspective on how our school district can move into the future while maintaining our local character.

I see Donny Leader as a partnership builder, a good listener, and a true community asset that will contribute positively to our district and the guidance of our future leaders.

Remember to mail in or drop off your ballots at the police station before May 16.

Christine Solomon

Scappoose

Candidates need to practice what they preach

Spring election time is fast upon us and we are seeing the many campaign signs throughout our communities and on the highway. Something I always do is look on the Oregon Secretary of State's Orestar site and see just where candidates spent their money for their campaign — particularly signs, because it is usually the largest expense.

Here is what I found in the Port commissioner race: All but two candidates purchased their signs locally in Columbia County. Those two candidates were Megan Kunkel-Hallstone and Melinda Bernert, who purchased their signs in the Portland metro area and from Southern Oregon.

I know of at least four Columbia County businesses that do graphics and signs and they are quite reasonable in cost. Perhaps signs can be found a little bit cheaper online or in the Portland metro area, but at what cost? This mentality of, "I can just go to Portland and maybe get it cheaper, or order it online because it is easier," is completely contrary to the kind of thinking we need from our elected officials.

I understand sometimes things are not available locally, but if you are running for a public office with a mission of supporting the local economy and jobs, practicing what you preach goes a long way in my book, and sourcing as many of your services locally speaks volumes about your attitude toward local business … even if it costs you a couple extra bucks.

I am not endorsing any specific candidate in this letter, but I would urge voters to make sure you are voting for candidates who practice what they preach.

Diane Dillard

St. Helens

Recommending Maloney for Scappoose schools

I'm recommending Lisa MaIoney for the Scappoose School Board. She's clear-thinking, articulate and smart. She also does her "homework" and comes to board meetings prepared.  

If the SSD board is to function at its best, it needs diversity, and Lisa provides just that. Yes, she's conservative, but her vote, even when it's the only vote, represents a point-of-view that needs to be heard and, I believe, is one with which most in our community would agree.  

Conservative or liberal, some wear these labels like merit badges, but neither mean much to me. What does matter is putting kids and teachers first, being a good listener, and having the courage to vote the way you believe is in the best interest of the community. That's Lisa. 

The Scappoose School Districy needs her voice and I appreciate that she decided to run for re-election.  

It was not an easy decision for her.

As for me, I endorse her good work and the diversity she brings to the board.   

Let's keep her doing what she's doing. Our children and the board are better off because of it. 

Pete McHugh

Scappoose

Iverson is invested in the community

I have worked with Chris Iverson on the Columbia Learning Center board of directors for 17 years, and I am so pleased that he continues his civic giving by running for the Port of St. Helens Commission.

In the many years I have known and collaborated with Chris, I have always been able to count on him to roll up his sleeves when there is a task needing accomplished and to offer thoughtful and meaningful input.

Chris works and has raised his family here in our community. He understands the importance of growing a sustainable community that has good jobs, people who care about one another, and a good environment. Chris was one of the driving forces behind the Chance to Become scholarship, which to date has raised funds for and provided over $1 million in local scholarships, and has given so many of our youth an opportunity to go to college.

On the Port Commission, Chris continues to give our local businesses an opportunity to grow and create opportunities for our youth here in Columbia County. That is what he truly cares about. There are no radical agendas or ulterior motives with Chris, and I believe that is an important quality in choosing who you vote for.

His only goal is to do what is best for the well-being of our communities and citizens.

Please join me in voting for Chris Iverson for Port of St. Helens Commission.

Marion Christensen

Deer Island

Hudson is ready to serve

When the time comes to vote for a new CRFR board member, one needs to look for the best-prepared and ready-to-serve candidate. The person elected needs to know not only the subject matter, but should possess the needed professional skills in making solid judgment calls on day one. Among the three candidates for Position 6, Gary Hudson fits the criteria for this important position. It is well known that Gary Hudson has spent 29 years with the St. Helens Rural Fire District as a volunteer, career firefighter, company officer and chief officer and thus knows his subject matter. What is not so well known is that Gary Hudson also served 17 years on Columbia City's City Council. In that position I witnessed (as a fellow councilor) how engaged, motivated and committed Gary was in promoting the best outcome on issues for the city. Please join me in voting for Gary Hudson who has the time, experience and professional skills that makes him the best candidate for Position 5 on the CRFR board.

Sally Ann Marson

Columbia City

Give me action over words Natasha Parvey-Leskowich stands out from the crowd that appears like spring flowers. With Natasha's drive, a $5,000 grant and a $20,000 no-interest loan went to a local small business. Natasha is currently the driving force for the successful Columbia County Keep It Local, a countywide effort to support all the businesses of Columbia County. If you meet her, be prepared — Natasha talks really, really fast. However, it comes with Natasha's real actions.

Last weekend, in the pouring rain at SHEDCO's annual spring clean-up event in downtown St Helens, once again Natasha and her husband, Art, were picking up trash, pulling weeds and planting flowers. She wasn't marching around waving a banner or handing out political literature; Natasha was there, along with the other volunteers, boots on the ground, hands muddy, clothes wet, shivering in the cold rain, doing the work. Natasha Parvey-Leskowich is running for a commission that is supposed to promote and foster business and jobs in Columbia County, that is what she has been doing, and I hope she will continue to do so for the Port of St. Helens. Actions speak louder than words, and Natasha's actions speak for themselves.

Al Petersen

St. Helens

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