The $75,000 vote

Perhaps you’ve been waiting with bated breath for the much discussed and somewhat ballyhooed Columbia River Crossing vote that Clark County Commissioners David Madore and Tom Mielke have been working to bring to the people.

Or maybe you are indifferent on the matter.

Well either way the wait is over! It’s here! In draft form!

And it looks, well, kind of like another funding question.


See, here’s the deal. The goal of commissioners has been to bring a vote on the project that doesn’t revolve around funding. Opponents of the CRC say last November’s Proposition 1 vote shows the will of the electorate. The biggest retort to that claim is that it was a vote on funding, not on the project.

Madore, a critic of the project since before he was commissioner, says he understands that counterpoint and his effort has been to get a general vote to the public because, “the problem is that, up to this point, (county residents) haven’t had the chance to vote on this project.”

And he’s said, many times, his job is to honor the ballot box.

But this vote still has a funding component. Probably because county legal counsel says commissioners can only ask voters about whether county money should be spent on the project. And so that is how it sits in draft form.

Madore and Mielke say they will continue to work on the language of the measure, and they have until August to get there, but this is your first look at what you may be asked come November.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot about the title. It’s going to cost the county $75,000 to put the measure on the ballot for the general election. And no, I didn’t accidentally add a zero there. Don’t believe me? Well, more good news! You can now listen to commissioners be told the number as part of audio recordings of board time. Here is the link to the recording.

For some inexplicable reason, there are no time stamps on the file when I look at it. I’m assuming that’s how it is for everyone, so to listen to the talk jump to about…

That’s the county’s attorney, Bronson Potter, talking there. But perhaps the most telling line comes at the end of that update when Madore indicates the price tag won’t stop him.

“Can you imagine us saying ‘ya know, we just can’t afford to ask the voters’,” Madore says.

Erik Hidle

Erik Hidle

Erik Hidle covers Clark County government for The Columbian. He can be followed on facebook at, on Twitter at @col_clarkgov or contacted by email at

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