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Signs of hope for pool levy | Editorial
The North Whidbey Park and Recreation levy measure failed in Tuesday’s election, but the numbers indicate that it should succeed when given another chance in November.
The commissioners have opted for another go in November, which was a wise move. Last Tuesday’s election had a dismal voter turnout rate of 38 percent. November’s general election with statewide issues and the hotly contested mayoral and council races in Oak Harbor should boost turnout considerably.
The park commissioners were also right in asking that the wording on the November measure be changed to include the word “pool,” because the great bulk of the district’s spending goes to the highly popular and intensively used John Vanderzicht Memorial Pool. Some voters may not realize the park and recreation district is entirely responsible for the pool.
As it was, voters showed impressive support for the park district on Tuesday, giving the maintenance and operation levy 56 percent approval. Unfortunately, it needed 60 percent support. The state Legislature should consider removing the supermajority requirement for M&O levies. They did it for school districts; they should expand it to other taxing districts as well. Leave the 60 percent majority for major new projects that add significant new taxes, not regular levies that keep taxes at or near the present level.
A look at the precinct results Tuesday shows strong support for the pool within the city of Oak Harbor and most other areas in the park district. The proposal only received more negative than postive votes in a few precincts, including Ault, Soundview and Fort Nugent. Hastie Leave was evenly split with only a few votes left to count.
Pool supporters need to make a more concerted effort to get out the vote in November, particularly in those precincts that were not supportive on Aug. 16. That combined with the natural increase in voter turnout for a general election should assure that one of North Whidbey’s finest assets will be available to the public for the next six years.
Kids need a place to learn to swim, seniors need low-impact exercise, families need places to have fun together, and without a pool all those needs would suffer greatly.