WENATCHEE — For the first time in recent memory, the Wenatchee Valley Chamber of Commerce is endorsing a political campaign.
The chamber is encouraging its members to vote for RiverCom’s tax measure, a renewal of an existing sales tax which is set to sunset at the end of this year, according to the measure’s information sheet. That original tax was passed in 2009.
The 0.1-percent sales tax pays for improvements to local emergency communications systems. It provided RiverCom with $3.3 million in 2018, about 44 percent of its total revenue.
The measure will appear on the Aug. 6 primary ballot for both Chelan and Douglas counties.
The chamber’s mission is closely aligned with RiverCom’s, which is why the endorsement makes sense, said chamber spokesman Sebastian Moraga.
“As the chamber we are deeply and intrinsically involved in improving this community,” he said. “ ... The consequences would be dire for the community if it doesn’t pass.”
It’s been at least seven years, but likely longer, since the chamber endorsed something on the ballot, Moraga said.
While there aren’t any other specific plans, the organization hasn’t ruled out endorsing other measures or candidates in the future, he said.
“This is sort of a test run for us to see what it requires and what it will mean,” he said.
The chamber will mailing out a voter’s guide to its members that includes each local contested race and tax measure, Moraga said. The RiverCom tax section will include the chamber’s endorsement.
The chamber also plans to write an opinion piece that will appear in The Wenatchee World within the next few weeks, Moraga said.
The measure needs a simple majority to pass. In its initial appearance in 2009, it passed with 65 percent in Chelan County and 62 percent in Douglas County, according to the information sheet.
The new measure doesn’t have a sunset clause, meaning it would continue indefinitely, according to the information sheet.