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Bob Rubitschun: State legislator's plan to allow citizens a vote will test promises of every other elected official

Thank you for publishing the article, "Oregon legislator seeks to give citizens voice on tolling." The timing couldn't have been better. COURTESY PHOTO: ODOT - Tolls may appear on Interstate 205 as soon as 2024.Bob Rubitschun

In the article, State Sen. Bill Kennemer, R-Canby/Oregon City, announces his plans to bring before the Oregon Legislature a bill to allow residents living within 15 miles of the proposed tollway to vote on whether to approve or reject the I-205 tolling proposal. It's hard to image anyone opposing voter participation, but as we've seen time and again, representatives only ask voters their opinion on election day. Thereafter, they do as they please.

I applaud Sen. Kennemer for his public statement and for listening to his constituents. I think the people deserve an opportunity to vote on the I-205 tolling plan. A vote would resolve this issue once and for all.

It's a triple-win situation:

1) Voters would feel included by participating in the democratic process.

2) Politicians would keep campaign promises by listening to their constituents.

3) Government would demonstrate the importance that trust plays in inclusive governing. All of these are fundamental values of a democracy.

Our nation just celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. Day. We remembered the many sacrifices it took to bring about change and our nation is still trying to become a more perfect nation.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Senate has been debating new legislation for the Freedom to Vote Act and the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. Oregon's U.S. senators and most of its federal representatives support the proposed legislation. Yet, when local citizens want to participate in the democratic process by voting on a toll/tax, we're denied.

There's something inconsistent about supporting voter participation legislation, yet not allowing citizens an opportunity to vote on toll/tax issues. In the fall, politicians will ask Oregonians for their votes. They will promise to represent you in their respective positions, but if they don't listen to you now, ask yourself, why will they listen to you after the election?

I believe Oregonians can understand the pros and cons of tolling and make the right decision. I say, trust the people. I urge our representatives to serve the people by putting the I-205 tolling initiative on the ballot. It's the right thing to do!

Bob Rubitschun is an Oregon City resident.


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