Among the many lessons of the Portland flouride vote concluding Tuesday was, as the Oregonian pointed out, this: Money does not always win elections; it more often follows a likey winner than dictates who one will be.
The movement in favor – led by a city council that decided to bring flouride to a city that repeatedly had rejected it – spent more than three times as much as the scattered opposition, which seemed to have a disorganized message (ranging from conspiracy theorists to people who simply like their relatively pure water the way it is) and disorganization as well. It surely did not break on any conventional ideological line; in this election, liberals battled liberals.
But people wanted what they wanted, and that was more or less what they wated before – and by comparable margins: The rejection vote was borderline landslide, so there was no mistaking it.
On the other hand was the expression-of-opinion vote in Clackamas County on the Tri-Met light rail development into that county – periodically dubbed Clackistan – where a good many resident fiercely dislike any intrusion from the big city to the north and like to maintain their independence from it, such as they can. The light rail project, which is good to go and set for completion in another couple of years, wasn’t going to be stopped however the vote went.
The takeaway from the vote was this: A middle. There were two ballot issues, and they actually cut differently. On one of them, about 57% of voters said they did not want county resources to be used on the project. (The county split geographically; areas to the north were strongly in favor.) But a second measure to allow property transfers involved with the project passed.
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