The News-Times heard from readers about the upcoming May election for this week's mailbag.

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Don't put the fox in charge of the chicken coop

Perhaps the most important vote Washington County citizens have in the upcoming May 2022 election is our choice for Washington County district attorney. And all voters who desire a leader of our District Attorney's Office who will seek both effective and humane enforcement of Oregon's laws on behalf of all of us, including the victims of crime, have only one choice. They should support the re-election of our current district attorney, Kevin Barton.

Before being elected as our district attorney, Kevin spent years specializing in the prosecution of child sexual abuse, establishing a record second to none in seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of our community. As a former prosecutor myself, I know that the successful conviction of child molesters requires the utmost sensitivity in working with young victims and a real talent for presenting those cases in the courtroom.

In his first term, Kevin has effectively led his office in handling the various crimes which we citizens of Washington County unfortunately experience, including murder, robbery, burglary, child abuse, and theft. His success is why Washington County's sheriff and almost every police chief in the county have endorsed him, along with numerous mayors and other public officials.

We all know what's happened in Portland in the last several years. Part of the reason for the outrageous increase in lawlessness in what was once a nice city is that the voters of Multnomah County elected a district attorney whose priorities do not include enforcing the law. If we want to keep Washington County a relatively safe community for all of our inhabitants, we can't make the same mistake.

Brian Decker is running against Kevin Barton in the upcoming election. Mr. Decker apparently has other priorities besides keeping our community safe. He was the initial president and incorporator in July 2020 of an organization deceptively known as the "Washington County Justice Initiative" which calls for "abolishing the prison system," according to its current website. I wonder where Mr. Decker thinks the murderers, robbers, burglars, and child sex abusers of Washington County should go when our prisons are abolished? Putting Mr. Decker in charge of the District Attorney's Office is like electing the fox to run the chicken coop!

Please cast your vote for Kevin Barton for district attorney.

Charles Gorder, Tigard

Former Washington County judge backs Decker for DA

District attorneys have tremendous influence in the criminal justice system, as they formulate the charges and sentences that defendants face in court.

In my more than 21 years as a judge in Washington County, I observed that for most offenders, punishment alone — even when it's as strict as the law allows — fails to stop crime in the long run. That's why our community needs a district attorney who has a comprehensive approach to criminal justice, devising sentences that get to the root causes of crime while also holding people accountable. That candidate is Brian Decker, and he has my vote for Washington County DA.

Brian Decker and I both know that some people just need to be put away, and rehabilitation for them is not an option. But my courtroom experience showed me those people are few and far between. Much more common are repeat offenses spurring from addiction, mental illness, personal trauma, and economic strain.

Our current DA Kevin Barton can see these causes, too, but he has been slow to address them, under-utilizing rehabilitation, treatment, and community solutions for offenders who could benefit from it. He built his career on being "tough on crime," and too often prefers the blunt tool of incarceration. In many cases, that creates a perpetual cycle: Offenses pause while a person is jailed, and they go back to committing crimes once the sentence ends. We can't build a safer community that way.

Brian Decker, with his background as both a federal prosecutor and a public defender, understands how to use the entire criminal justice system, not just one type of punishment, to bring down crime. He is more willing and better able to be the leader who stops the revolving door of repeat offending in Washington County.

Gayle Nachtigal, Hillsboro

Voters have opportunity to protect children from big tobacco

The use of devices that dispense a nicotine-containing vapor, vaping, was introduced as an alternative to other nicotine-dispensing devices, such as patches, as an aid to quitting smoking.

Although there are indications that this can work for smokers, it is indisputable that vaping causes damage to the lungs, and that nicotine is highly addicting. Moreover, there is evidence that vaping increases the likelihood of future tobacco use.

It's for these reasons that preventing the use of nicotine-containing vaping devices by young people has been instituted in most jurisdictions.

After vaping became popular, tobacco companies bought up most of the small producers. The next development was the introduction of products with fruity or candy flavors; products known to be especially attractive to youths.

The industry began using synthetic nicotine to avoid federal restrictions on tobacco products; but synthesized in vats, or extracted from tobacco leaves, nicotine is nicotine — the most addictive drug known.

In response to these threats, Washington County would prohibit the sale of any flavored products meant to be heated and inhaled. Great — protects our kids lungs, and decreases long-term tobacco addiction.

Except that the threat to profits is too great, so the head of Plaid Pantry moved, with backing from big tobacco, to file an initiative to repeal the law.

Data on the Oregon Secretary of State website show that a company specializing in getting signatures, Grassfire LLC, was paid thousands of dollars to obtain enough signatures to qualify for the May ballot. Those same data show that Philip Morris and Reynolds Tobacco donated most of the cost of those operations. Not exactly a grassroots uprising.

But even with the Washington County ban, as pointed out by a Washington County commissioner, kids could still travel a short distance into Multnomah County to get their vapes. Not only should Washington County voters reject this initiative, but clearly, it's time for the entire state to take the path followed by Washington County, and stop the seduction of our children into the army of tobacco users.

Martin Mendelson, Portland

Elected officials blast Hutzler's misuse of quotes

As elected officials representing Washington County, we are writing to voice our strong concerns about the current Washington County auditor's false candidate statements.

Two quotes in the Voters' Pamphlet and on his website would have voters believing John Hutzler is endorsed by two Pamplin Media newspapers — the Hillsboro News Times and the Beaverton Valley Times — when in fact the source material is from a letter to the editor. The attribution on his website has been removed, but unfortunately, the misinformation in the Voters' Pamphlet cannot be corrected.

Public trust in the election process is a fragile thing. We believe all candidates running for office should maintain a high level of integrity. Auditors in particular are the guardians of public trust in transparency and accountability and should be held to the highest standard of integrity. When that does not occur, it damages the public's confidence in government, the electoral process, and their engagement in our democracy.

As elected officials and candidates ourselves, we believe in ensuring we meet the letter of election laws, rules, and instructions, and honor the spirit of transparency behind these.

We also call upon candidates to use the recent example of the Washington County auditor's misleading statements as one not to repeat.

Sen. Kate Lieber, Senate District 14

Sen. Janeen Sollman, Senate District 15

Sen. Akasha Lawrence-Spence, Senate District 18

Sen. Rob Wagner, Senate District 19

Rep. Brad Witt, House District 31

Rep. Maxine Dexter, House District 33

Rep. Dacia Grayber, House District 35

Rep. Rachel Prusak, House District 37

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