Editorial: No doubt about voters’ message

Voters in Island County sometimes go for Democrats, sometimes for Republicans, sometimes pass money issues and sometimes defeat money issues. But usually the vote is fairly close. Not so on Tuesday, when the county’s proposal was blasted out of the water like a fishing boat that annoys an attack submarine.

It wasn’t even close.

More than 70 percent of Island County voters sank Proposition 1, which would have raised property taxes, brought in about $2 million annually to the county and built up its vanishing reserve fund.

The commissioners warned they’d have to cut deputy positions without the extra money, but not even that fazed the voters. The county police department’s large network of sheriff’s deputies, their families, friends and unionized brothers and sisters didn’t come through this time. They were greatly outmatched by angry voters tired of having government tap into their wallets during the toughest economic times since the Great Depression.

The commissioners now have no choice but to cut, which is something they’ve already been doing for two years. One of the election surprises was that incumbent Democrat John Dean, whom everyone recognizes as a likable person despite policy differences, was outpolled by Republican Tea Party activist Kelly Emerson. She says cut, don’t raise taxes or fees, and the primary election voters clearly sided with her philosophy.

It won’t be easy cutting $2 million from the 2011 budget, which the commissioners are already working on. Obviously, public safety has to be the first priority. Keep cuts to law enforcement and the prosecutor’s office to a minimum. There are programs that help people and help the environment that the commissioners have been defending that can no longer be justified in light of the budget crisis.

There’s really no other approach possible. The voters have spoken.

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