As our community moves forward, we need to take a hard look at what we value. We value the natural beauty of our region. We value jobs and providing opportunities for our children. We value communities where we know our neighbors. Finally, we value the safety of our children and ourselves.

We have an opportunity to stand by these values by voting “yes” on Measure 5-234.

The loss of our jail in Columbia County puts the livability of our communities at risk by compromising our peace and safety. We are releasing criminals into our neighborhoods. This year alone, the Sherriff’s office has released more than 600 criminals after serving only a fraction of their sentences. This is dangerous and unacceptable. Criminals are beginning to figure out that if they commit a crime in Columbia County they will probably not go to jail. The county jail rents beds to offset operating costs, but capacity for local offenders has been reduced due to budget realities.

The county is now coming to us as voters to ask what we value. This is the perfect opportunity to demonstrate that we value community safety. Our criminal justice system depends on a promise: if you commit a crime and are sentenced to jail time, you will go to jail. If the most critical component of this promise — the consequence — is not there, then the system does not work. If passed, Measure 5-234 will increase the capacity in our jail from 25 to 100 beds, empowering us to keep that critical promise of a consequence for those who commit serious crimes in our communities.

We want Columbia County to be a vibrant and livable place. We want to live somewhere safe, where the threat of jail deters criminals and offenders are held accountable. It is in our interest as residents of Columbia County to protect our peace and safety. A “yes” vote on Measure 5-234 is a simple, concrete step that we can take to keep our promise and protect our values.

Ballots are out now. Please join me in voting “yes” on Measure 5-234.

Rep. Brad Witt

District 31


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