In advance of Tuesday’s general election, the Yakima Herald-Republic Editorial Board brought together candidates for seats on the Yakima, Selah and Union Gap City Councils, along with the 13th Legislative District position. On the state level, the board brought in supporters and opponents of Referendum 88 and Initiative 976. The newspaper’s editorial board, which operates separately from the newsroom, developed its endorsements from these interviews and from recent news coverage. Here are the editorial board’s endorsements:
Yakima City Council District 1
This endorsement stems partly by default; the other candidate in the race, Kenton Gartrell, turned down the invitation to meet with the editorial board. If elected, Macias will face a steep learning curve and will need to learn to assert herself. But her narrative as a child of District 1 reflects that of many in the economically challenged district, and she is willing to engage on the issues.
Yakima City Council District 3
Either Byers or her opponent, Thomas Sund, would make a capable council member. Sund worked 33 years as a funeral director and another 12 in law enforcement as a dispatcher and 911 call-taker. Byers brings civic involvement in the education, business, nonprofit and faith communities, and she has served six years on the Yakima Planning Commission. We believe that background gives her the edge.
Yakima City Council District 5
Both Lund and opponent Elizabeth Hallock offer business experience, Lund as a salon owner and Hallock with running a marijuana shop. Both voice the oft-stated complaint that city bureaucrats and policies make life difficult on small businesses. Lund, who was born in South Korea and grew up in Yakima, has business and nonprofit experience and is better attuned to the tone of the city. She also brings a personal temperament that could lead to collaboration with council members whose differences frequently emerge in public.
Yakima City Council District 7
Cousens’ opponent has dropped out of the race, virtually assuring Cousens’ reelection, though both names will appear on the ballot. Cousens has used her first term to gain a solid education in the workings of local government, and she obviously reads the district well. Of note is that she wants to revive the prospect of a port district to stimulate economic growth.
Yakima School Board Position 5
Rice is a fixture on the board, having served since 1998, and a decade ago was recognized by statewide peers who named her president of the Washington State School Directors Association. She now serves on the association’s Legislative Committee. Opponent Earl Lee, a former teacher, often fixates on details specific to teachers, while Rice can see the broader picture that is required of a director.
Selah City Council Position 4
Little differentiates the positions of Peterson from those of opponent Buffy Ibach. The difference lies in his deeper knowledge of civic issues through his involvement in the Selah Downtown Association, the parks and recreation board and the Selah Community Days Committee.
Selah City Council Position 5
Bell and challenger Ellen Overby largely agree on the issues, and Overby seems more than capable for the job. Bell’s term on the council and his clear effort at engagement with residents and businesses in the community give him the edge.
Selah City Council Position 7
Incumbent Carlson faces a challenger in Crispin Garza. Carlson’s knowledge of council business makes him the stronger candidate. Garza’s banking background likely would give him the skills to get a handle on the issues if he does more homework, but Carlson already is handling them quite well.
Union Gap City Council Position 5
In seeking his fourth term, Matson faces a challenge from former Planning Commission member Dave Hansen. Matson’s time on the council has made him well-versed on the issues, and he offers a folksy perspective on civic affairs.
13th Legislative District Position 2
Ybarra, a Republican who was appointed to fill the seat of the disgraced Matt Manweller, faces a Democratic challenger in Steve Verhey. Both have strong backgrounds in education and agriculture. Both agree the Legislature’s “fix” to school funding issues needs further fixing, though we agree with Ybarra that raising local levy lids, which Verhey favors, would heighten disparities between rich and poor districts. On a political level, Ybarra better reflects the strong conservative tilt of the district; on a personal level, he brings a story of aspiration and inspiration as the successful son of a Spanish-speaking immigrant family.
This is a referendum on Initiative 1000, which the Legislature approved in the past session. Initiative 1000 would overturn Initiative 200, approved by the voters in 1998, which prohibited the state from giving preferential treatment based on gender, ethnicity, color, race or national origin. A vote for Referendum 88 is a vote for affirmative action as spelled out in Initiative 1000; the initiative would allow state and local governments to consider factors such as race and gender in hiring, contracting and education, but it does not allow preferences or quotas. It also does not apply to private businesses and universities. We believe proponents build a strong case in noting inequalities in educational and economic attainment. Washington also would join the vast majority of states with affirmative action: 42 states have the practice, including 10 of the 11 states in the old Confederacy.
As in affirmative action, this Tim Eyman initiative is a throwback to the 1990s, when voters approved $30 car tabs with Initiative 695. State car fees have crept up since then to fund road projects and Washington State Patrol operations, and local governments — including several in the Yakima Valley — use increased fees for local projects. The initiative would undo all that by restoring the old, inflation-unadjusted $30 fee and eliminating the local fees. It would also severely cut funding for the three-county Sound Transit district, in which Yakima County is not involved. This measure undermines the principles of local control, designating funds for specific purposes, and user fees in which those who use a service pay for it. It also drags the rest of the state into Puget Sound transit issues. This initiative would seriously crimp state and local mobility efforts and is exactly what the state doesn’t need.