Editorial: Candidates, issues on ballot require your vote

The last couple of years have been tough for us locally, as well as our fellow citizens across the state and the land.

The eonomic recession has prompted a variety of proposals and efforts to turn things around financially and improve our quality of life with strategies such as the recently approved national healthcare program.

Locally, our city and our schools have benefited from some conservative budgeting, so we are not quite as bad off as other communities in Oregon. Our local elected officials and their staff members deserve credit for that.

It’s time for us, as citizens, to weigh in. Beside the big statewide races for governor, U.S. senator and state schools superintendent, the May 18 election doesn’t include many local races. But there are some that deserve your attention. The Republican nomination for 4th District congressional representative, currently occupied by Democrat Pete DeFazio, has two candidates, Jaynee Germond and Art Robinson. 17th District State Rep. Sherrie Sprenger is being challenged by Bruce Cuff.

All of these candidates have Web sites, accessible by a Google search. We urge readers to spend a few minutes and educate themselves, then vote. The people we elect are the ones who will make decisions for us for the next two to four years.

The ballot includes two statewide initiatives, Measures 68 and 69, which would deal with constitutional changes to how public schools and colleges borrow money. Measure 69 would modernize the process of issuing bonds to finance building projects at community colleges and university and would simply allow the state to save money, by all accounts.

Measure 68, which, like 69, has no organized opposition, would allow school districts to borrow money for capital improvements, including “land and other assets associated with acquisition, construction, improvement, remodeling, maintenance and repair.”

The measure also would allow the state to borrow money and to match bonds approved by local voters. It has raised some concerns that the state would, in effect, be able to max out its credit card more easily than it can now. Some have suggested that the creation of the school capital matching fund looks like another slush fund for politicians and bureaucrats to play with.

Locally, we have three levies: the Linn County Law Enforcement Four-Year Levy that helps fund the Sheriff’s Office, the renewal of Sweet Home Police Department’s five-year operating levy, and the Sweet Home Library five-year operating levy.

We have reported on the city levies and won’t rehash the details here. As we have reported, crime statistics from the past few years have shown a distinct downturn that has continued since 2005, which law enforcement officials attribute to having a more visible police presence on the streets.

In tough economic times we have to make choices about how we want to spend our money €“and it is our money that is paying for law enforcement and library services.

The former is the most basic and necessary service a government should provide and it would be the first place we would recommend spending money €“ voting “yes.”

As a center of learning for the community, the library provides services that help citizens better themselves and learn about the world around us.

In tough economic times libraries often get the shaft from public officials who are looking for ways to save money €“ or make voters pay for not giving them the tax revenues they want. In our case, we all have a say in whether the library gets funded or not. Voting “yes” ensures that it will continue as a vital part of our community.

On most of these issues and candidates, we haven’t suggested how you should vote. But you should.

The people we elect and the decisions we make now will have ramifications down the line.

Making wise choices now improves our chances that the future will be better.