Special Election focuses on key issues in Grays Harbor

The thing about elections is there always seems to be one right around the corner, so if a proposal fails to garner enough support from voters then there is a next time if so desired.

The political landscape is littered with proposals that have not only failed mightily to get approved, but also those that got agonizingly close to hitting paydirt. So sitting back and watching these things play out can be pleasurable or painful depending on your perspective.

For the folks in Aberdeen and Hoquiam, who are backing a proposal that would merge the two fire departments into the Central Grays Harbor Regional Fire Authority, they know painful.

That’s because the proposal failed to get the necessary 60 percent approval from voters of each city in the November 2021 General Election. The proposal failed by 14 votes. The 60 percent threshold is required because of the complicated financial structure needed to fund the would-be regional fire authority.

But, as circumstances would have it, the same proposal along with many others from school districts in Grays Harbor County are on the upcoming Special Election ballot on Feb. 8, 2022.

The proposals, which are mostly labeled as propositions, all fly under the banner of being in the public’s best interest. And it is possible that theme will help push each of the proposals, large and small, over the top because that sort of messaging is generally a winner.

One large ask of voters on the Special Election ballot comes from the North Beach School District, which is putting forth a 25-year, $110 million bond measure to help pay for the rebuilding of Pacific Beach Elementary, improvements to North Beach Middle and High School and Ocean Shores Elementary.

The Daily World staff writer Erika Gebhardt delved into the details of the proposal in a December 2021 story. In that story, North Beach School District Superintendent Andrew Kelly acknowledged the responsibility attached to that level of bond spending.

“We’ve reached the point when being ‘responsible’ means spending money judiciously to protect our taxpayers’ investment in local schools,” said Kelly in a statement.

On a smaller scale, school districts in Cosmopolis, Elma, Hoquiam, Lake Quinault, McCleary, Satsop, Taholah and Wishkah Valley are all going to voters for their blessing to help finance educational programs and operational expenses.

In some cases, school districts are simply asking for voters to approve a replacement levy. No matter what the ask is this time around, it is imperative that as many people as possible vote in the upcoming election.

Special elections are well known for notoriously low turnouts, no matter the jurisdiction, so we hope at least 50 percent of eligible voters cast their mail-in ballots.

That would mark a dramatic increase from most recent special elections and a sure sign that democracy is alive and well in Grays Harbor County.