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Home arrow Opinion arrow Editorials arrow Votes still matter even if they don’t count

Votes still matter even if they don’t count

Sometimes votes that don’t count still matter.

The Union County Commissioners — two of the three, anyway — were wise to recognize this.

Commissioners Mark Davidson and Steve McClure, who were opposed by their colleague Nellie Hibbert, decided earlier this month to ask county voters, at the Nov. 2 election, whether they’re for or against a $600 million wind farm that a company wants to build near Union.

The result of this advisory vote will have no direct effect on whether Horizon Wind Energy actually constructs the Antelope Ridge Wind Farm.

Union County voters don’t have the authority to block, or to approve, the project.

Oregon’s Energy Facility Siting Council will decide, based on objective standards, whether to approve Horizon’s application.

Which is not to say that the advisory vote is worthless.

For one thing, the results will give Union County residents the clearest possible picture about where their neighbors stand on an unusually contentious issue.

One which has spawned radio ads from wind farm opponents that seem to us slightly hysterical in their exaggerations.

Ideally, the outcome of the advisory vote will encourage residents to reconsider their preconceptions about the wind farm, and thus be prepared to contribute cogent comments to the Facility Siting Council during the public hearings that agency will schedule before it rules on Horizon’s application.

Some critics of the Commission’s decision worry that it sets a precedent that will compel the county to conduct advisory votes on all sorts of topics.

That seems a specious concern.

It’s not every day — nor, for that matter, every decade — that a company proposes a $600 million project, with skyscraper-height towers, in a relatively small, rural county.

Ultimately, we applaud any elected body that thinks it’s important to find out what a majority of its constituents think about controversial and important issues.

 
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