Editorial: Election results mean something

The Island County Commissioners should try paying attention to election results before proceeding with a new clean water utility tax on property owners.

The all-Democrat panel of three will lose one of its members, the affable John Dean, who was defeated by political newcomer Kelly Emerson, a Tea Party Republican. She ran against raising taxes and fees. She won’t be sworn in until January, but she’s already advised the board of commissioners to give taxpayers a “Christmas gift” by at least tabling discussions of the new clean water tax until next year. Dean, despite his lame duck status, and fellow commissioners Angie Homola and Helen Price Johnson ignored some pretty sound advice by planning on public hearings in December.

Cleaning up Whidbey Island’s water is important but now is not the time for a massive new effort. Wait until the economy is clearly on the upswing. Taxpayers are obviously fed up with the government asking for more money during a severe recession. Just look at recent election results: Island County’s Proposition 1, which would have raised money to sustain the existing level of services, was obliterated at the polls last summer. Earlier this month, Island County voters joined their cohorts statewide to require a two-thirds legislative majority to raise taxes and fees; they blew a state income tax proposal out of the water; and they repealed newly-adopted taxes on bottled water and candy. Locally, South Whidbey School District voters shot down a rather modest bond proposal by a significant majority, which is unusual for an area that almost always supports its schools.

Voters aren’t necessarily angry or anti-government, they’re just afraid that their own incomes are flat, falling or disappearing, and they can’t afford to give any more to the government. Live within your means, they’re saying, and this means Island County as well.

It’s actually a simple message to understand. If the commissioners can’t figure it out, John Dean could well be the first of our three incumbent commissioners to serve only one term.

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