Participation in 2020 Census is important

Walla Walla Union-Bulletin

Participation be each person in the 2020 Census is important for you, your community and the nation.

T{span style=”background-color: #ffffff;”}he goal of the Census is to count every person living in this country. It’s important to have this information as it is used for a variety of purposes such as determining representation in Congress. The number of seats in the U.S. House is fixed at 435. The state of Washington has 10 of those seats — picking up one in the 2010 Census.{/span}

In addition, the federal government allocates hundreds of billions of dollars every year to the states, counties and cities (essentially sending our tax dollars back to us) for roads, health care and other needs. The dollar amount received depends on population. The more people the more money a state, city or county receives.

Counting all the people living in this country isn’t easy. It’s made harder when some of those people who should be counted, per our Constitution, are made afraid to participate. The effort by the Trump administration to include a question on citizenship (the first time since 1950) further complicates the counting and adding stokes some folks’ fears.

The chairman of Washington state’s effort to get a complete count in the Census, former Gov. Gary Locke, is advising people to simply not answer any question about citizenship. He said he plans to boycott that question.

Locke, a former U.S. Secretary of Commerce, said people will still be counted if they skip the citizenship question.

The bottom line is that each person should make it a priority to be counted.

It’s the right thing to do to ensure your state and community has appropriate representation in Congress and proper reallocation of your tax dollars.

Time for Western Washington to take wildfire danger seriously

The (Centralia) Chronicle

With the cool, cloudy weather hovering over Southwest Washington for the past few days, few of us have wildfire danger on our minds.

That doesn’t include Hilary Franz, Washington state’s commissioner of public lands. Franz stopped by The Chronicle as part of her continuing effort to educate the public on Washington’s increasing wildfire danger.

While arid Eastern Washington has taken the brunt of Washington’s wildfire season in years past, the trend is skewing farther and farther west.

In an effort to respond faster to fires throughout the state, Franz is directing the Department of Natural Resources to strategically place equipment based on fire danger and anticipated weather conditions.

But fighting Washington’s ever more destructive wildfires is not all about being reactive, she said. It requires a proactive approach to solve in the long term.

As our local fire districts have, she stresses the importance of property owners creating defensible space around their homes and to clear brush and tall grass around properties

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We, as a newspaper serving a heavily forested portion of Western Washington, applaud Franz’ comprehensive plan to both react aggressively to day-to-day wildfire risks and to plan proactively for the future health of our state and its forests.

Creating city council districts worth studying

The (Vancouver) Columbian

There is no single formula for creating a city council that effectively represents the community. The most important thing is to have competent, thoughtful, engaged representatives — and there are many paths for arriving at that destination.

With that being said, the idea of electing Vancouver City Council members by district is an intriguing one. Residents should have an opportunity to weigh in on the proposal this November with an advisory vote.

“Districting will promote demographic and economic diversity on the city council,” Esther Schrader, a member of a review committee, said while presenting the proposal to the council. “The current council is pretty much lumped together geographically.”

That is not necessarily a bad thing. If councilors have a robust vision for Vancouver, it should not matter where they reside.

But there also are arguments in favor of geographic diversity.

Yakima, which has a population of 94,000, adopted district voting following a 2015 federal court ruling that said at-large voting disenfranchised the city’s large minority population. Voters that year elected three Hispanic councilors, the first in the history of a city where more than 40 percent of residents identify as Hispanic.

Vancouver does not have the same kind of racial diversity; in our mind, the question would revolve around representation from all regions of the city.

Having a councilor who lives in the same part of the city can give residents a heightened sense that their concerns about a cavernous pothole or a lack of sidewalks will be taken seriously. On the other hand, residents of east Vancouver or elsewhere are free to run for the council under the current system.

In other words, there is no clear answer about whether voting by district would be beneficial.