The League of Women Voters of Clark County encourages candidates to pledge to conduct fair campaigns

The League’s Fair Campaign Practices Project asks candidates in both the Aug. 3 primary and Nov. 2 general elections to pledge to conduct positive campaigns and avoid unfair attacks on opponents

The League of Women Voters of Clark County is urging candidates in this year’s elections to emphasize their qualifications and positions rather than attack opponents in their campaigns.

The League of Women Voters of Clark County is urging candidates in this year’s elections to emphasize their qualifications and positions rather than attack opponents in their campaigns.

“We are all better served – the voters, the candidates and our community as a whole – when candidates for public office focus on their plans and goals and how each one of them believes they are the best person for the position,” said Nancy Halvorson, president of the League of Women Voters of Clark County.

The League’s Fair Campaign Practices Project asks candidates in both the Aug. 3 primary and Nov. 2 general elections to pledge to conduct positive campaigns and avoid unfair attacks on opponents as well as distortions or misrepresentations.

New this year is a colorful logo produced by the League that participating candidates can use in their campaign materials to indicate they are committed to running a positive campaign, Halvorson said.  “Displaying the logo will tell voters the candidate is serious about taking the higher road in campaigning.”

The fair-campaign project also creates an independent five-member panel to take complaints from candidates or registered voters who believe a candidate is violating a fair-campaign pledge crafted by the League.

Judie Stanton, chair of the League’s Candidate Forums Committee, described the pledge as straightforward and reasonable, noting it encourages candidates to be respectful. Its introduction states: “Every candidate for public office has an obligation to observe and uphold basic principles of decency, honesty and fair play in order that, after a vigorously contested but fairly conducted campaign, citizens may exercise their constitutional right to a free and informed choice. Public office is a public trust.”

The pledge features four standards of behavior by which the candidate promises to adhere. Those standards can be found here, on the LWVCC website.

Stanton said all candidates were invited to take the pledge when they registered with the Clark County Elections Office for the 2021 elections. 

A complaint that results in a finding that a candidate who signed the pledge has violated it may be reported to the media, Stanton said.

Stanton noted the League has sponsored fair-campaign projects in the past, although last year’s efforts were limited because of the COVID pandemic. 

More than 60 candidates are vying in races for 19 positions in the Aug. 3 primary, including mayor of Vancouver; City Council positions in Camas, La Center, Vancouver, Washougal and Yacolt; directors in the Battle Ground, Evergreen, Hockinson and Vancouver School districts; Fire District 5 commissioner; and Clark Regional Wastewater District Commissioner.

“We’re hoping all of the candidates see the value in committing to such an effort,” Halvorson said.  “We’ll be a better community and our citizens will have a better future if they do.”

Halvorson said conducting fair-campaign projects is a regular function of the League, which was established 101 years ago.  Its mission, she noted, is to empower voters and defend democracy.   

Ballots will be mailed to all registered voters in Clark County July 16 and County Auditor Greg Kimsey said voters should expect them to be delivered no later than July 21.

In Washington’s election system, the top-two finishers in each race in the primary are the only candidates who advance to the general election in the fall.

The deadline to register or update an existing registration online is July 26, but state law permits eligible voters to register in person at the Elections Office up until 8 p.m. on Aug. 3, Election Day, Kimsey said.

The League of Women Voters of Clark County is a nonpartisan, grassroots civic organization that encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy. Membership in the League is open to all. With 100 years of experience, the League is one of America’s oldest and most trusted civic nonprofit organizations.

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