The long election

By Don Nelson

Elections aren’t like they used to be.

All-mail balloting and early voting have changed the dynamics of campaigning. No longer do candidates build frantic momentum up to election day. They have to think much farther ahead than that, and so do the media outlets that cover them.

The special election on formation of a proposed Methow Valley Recreation District is, as we used to say, “on” April 22. Except that it’s not. It starts Friday, when most eligible voters in the affected area — within the boundaries of the Methow Valley School District — will get their ballots in the mail. Some will vote right away and pop the ballot right back into the postal system. Done.

Others will return their ballot sometime in the next three weeks. A few will wait until the last minute to make the voting cut-off.

It’s not just a yes-no question about whether to form the district. Thirteen valley residents have filed to fill seats on a five-member commission that will oversee the district if it is approved. Some of the candidates are running because they don’t like the proposal, and want to have something to say about how the district is operated if approved.

While campaign activities may continue — although they seem to be pretty low-key and minimal so far in the Methow, especially given the import of the issue — it’s probable that a fair number of people have made up their minds or know which way they are leaning.

In this issue of the News, we offer some information we hope will be helpful. We asked each of the candidates to answer four questions about their reasons for running, and 12 responded. You’ll find their answers in On the record: Recreation district commission candidates have their say.

We asked Friends of the Recreation District, the group formed to support the rec district and promote five candidates for commission positions, to prepare an opinion piece about the proposal. Read it here.  We also asked Ron Perrow, who has been active in generating information and questions about the district as proposed, to write a similar piece explaining the problems he sees with it. Read Perrow’s thoughts here.

We’re also publishing a story about the candidates’ forum in Twisp last week, where 11 candidates were represented, either in person or by way of written statements. And we’ve prepared a “Frequently Asked Questions” article.

The rec district proposal has generated more interest and passion, on either side of the issue, than any public topic we’ve seen in a while aside from the debate over where, or whether, all-terrain vehicles should be allowed in the Methow.

That’s a good thing because it shows people care. And if you listen carefully to advocates and opponents of the rec district proposal, you’ll realize they care about the same things. For the most part, it’s been a civil discussion with good points raised on both sides — or in the middle, if you’re one of those who say they support the idea but don’t like the proposed structure. People have done their homework and aren’t afraid to engage the issue. It was encouraging at last week’s public forum to see so many of the candidates in earnest conversations with some of the people who attended.

There’s still time to contemplate how to vote and who to vote for. But don’t miss the opportunity. This is an issue about which the community needs to express itself.



For more of our in-depth coverage on the proposed Methow Valley Recreation District, see this week’s (April 2) related stories, editorials and letters: Candidates’ forum draws packed houseOn the record: Recreation district commission candidates have their sayFAQ: Rec districtMy turn: ProMy turn: ConLetters to the Editor, and the somewhat related: County commissioners reorganize county fair and recreation boards