Readers respond to recent opinion pieces, share good news on Toy N Joy, and weigh in on the election.

Cool it on the 'socialist' rhetoric

As regards the letter of Joe Turner about Biden's policies (letters to the editor, Sept. 4, 2020), I am appalled by how appalled he is when he talks about the "progressive liberal socialists" of the Democratic Party.

There's that word "socialist" again. Can I assume that he doesn't approve of corporate socialism, you know, the kind that allows corporations such as Walmart, Amazon (the list is endless) to get away without paying essentially any taxes? Is that the socialism he is referring to? Or does he not approve of socialistic programs run by the federal government like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and would like to see them eliminated? So which brand of of socialism is he talking about here?

Refer to Joseph Turner's Sept. 4, 2020, letter to the editor.

Mr. Turner in his letter was referring to the Biden-Sanders unity task force recommendations which were used to influence the Democratic Party platform. Looking over this document on the internet, there was no recommendation to defund non-profit charter schools (page 83). I would encourage people to look over this document yourselves, but remember, these were just recommendations to the party platform.

David Bernstein, St. Helens

Toy N Joy still serving community despite coronavirus

The Merchants' Toy N Joy Auction Committee would like to thank everyone who helped make our first virtual event, Christmas in July Online Auction, such a success.

Special thanks to our guests who took the time to discover our new venue, to our hardworking volunteers, and most importantly to Jeff Kemp, of Pacific Stainless, who gifted us over 60 gift certificates to local businesses in April and challenged us to pay it forward. He set the pace for more donors who sent gift certificates and items for the auction. The generosity of many will help us bring cheer with toys and food to families for the holidays and has helped boost our local economy during the unprecedented times of COVID-19.

The Christmas in July Online Auction grossed $14,629. Funds will be distributed to the following agencies in December as our mission states: Columbia River Fire & Rescue Volunteer Firefighters (Toy & Joy) and Kiwanis Club of St. Helens (Holiday Hope). The Columbia Pacific Food Bank received $1,900 from the virtual paddle raise.

We have decided to not hold the annual Merchants' Toy N Joy Benefit Auction and Dinner in December this year. We do have several ideas in the works to continue fundraising for Toy N Joy and St. Helens Kiwanis' Holiday Hope this fall and will let you know as they unfold.

In the meantime, because the need for our community is so strong this year, we invite you to send any tax-deductible cash donations you may wish to contribute to us at: Merchants' Toy N Joy Auction, PO Box 131, St. Helens, OR 97051. Together we can make the holiday season brighter for our local kids and families.

Mindy Sass

President, Merchants' Toy-N-Joy Auction Benefit Inc.

Witt stands for environment and those who love it

Brad Witt has my vote and has been a real source of support and inspiration for our community. I hope that you will join me in supporting state Rep. Brad Witt this November, because we need an advocate in Salem who understands that sustainable resource use and conservation go hand in hand.

Brad is not just the co-chair of the Oregon Sportsmen's Caucus, he is an actual sportsman, who has spent countless hours hunting, fishing, and reloading. As a hunter myself, I can attest to the fact that sportsmen are true conservationists. He enjoys Oregon's woods and rivers, and knows how important it is to protect them. When Brad recognized that Oregon had been targeted by poachers, he drafted and passed legislation to protect our wildlife.

Brad also supports the Second Amendment and gun safety.

We need more level-headed, common-sense leaders like Brad in Salem.

Tara Hicks, Scappoose

Some candidates put up election signs too early

I have lived in St. Helens for eight years and am closely following the judicial race in the upcoming general election.

Many candidates apparently ignore Columbia County Ordinance 94-3, which forbids candidates from erecting political signs on county roads until 45 days before the election.

However, it is surprising that someone who wants to be elected as a Circuit Court judge would do so. Last week, Michael T. Clarke posted on his Facebook page that signs could go back up Sept. 4.

I just wonder how many other laws he will ignore, if he is elected to be a judge?

Kathy McCarter, St. Helens

Don't cover up crime with the Constitution

It's hard to believe that the Spotlight would allow such an article as the one written by William Allen ("They're petioners, not protesters," commentary published Sept. 11, 2020).

Refer to William Allen's commentary in the Sept. 11, 2020, edition.

The article starts out by telling us just how flawed the First and Second Amendments are, except of course the part that Mr. Allen wants to quote: "The right of the people peacefully to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." This must be completely flawless. Right?

Mr. Allen doesn't like these peace-loving people to be called "protesters," they should be called "petitioners." Because, as "petitioners," they're just harmless citizens who want to get their point across. Right?

He claims that, for every looter and vandal, there are hundreds who are there "just to peacefully petition the government." Either Mr. Allen is

blind, or, he thinks we are?

He tells us it's mostly a "peaceable assembly" but, occasionally, a window might get broken.

Mr. Allen, that window wasn't just broken, it was smashed in with bricks, blunt objects, and anything else your peace-loving petitioners could get their hands on. They were smashed in to allow your peace-loving petitioners to steal or destroy everything in the store. They were smashed in to allow your peace-loving petitioners to throw Molotov cocktails into someone's business and burn it to the ground.

By the hundreds, your peace-loving petitioners burn, loot, and destroy private and public property. They destroy the businesses of hardworking people (something your peace-loving petitioners would know nothing about).

They throw bricks, feces, urine and Molotov cocktails at our police. They are never content with the amount of destruction they cause. They come back night after night to destroy even more. They are rioters, looters and in some cases, murderers. They threaten and terrorize innocent people who get in their way.

Mr. Allen talks about the list of abuses and grievances, but then, he doesn't list even one abuse or grievance. Why? Because his real goal is to downplay the destruction and violence in order to gain support for the mobs.

It's obvious by the use of 10-dollar words and lack of common sense that the above-mentioned article is a product of our failed higher education system.

Our governor and the mayor of Portland need to put a stop to this destruction. Immediately.

Robert Maak, Scappoose

Fellow state judge backs Grant in election

Experience and judicial leadership are the qualities needed for Columbia County.

Judge Jenefer Grant has served your community for over 13 years. She is experienced in the areas of practice most important to the position. The bulk of the work of the courts involves families and criminal matters. She is also experienced in the areas of juvenile law, civil, small claims, traffic, probate, and evictions. Prior to your community electing Judge Grant, she practiced in Columbia County as a courtroom lawyer.

Judge Grant is a leader. She voluntarily takes on additional duties, such as acting as presiding judge, involvement with the juvenile court improvement project, your local public safety coordinating council, presiding annually over Sauvie Island eighth-grade mock trial, and assisting the street law class at St. Helens High School.

Judge Grant cares about and is supported by your community. I invite you to take a look at her website ( to see the long list of Columbia County citizens, legal community, and local leaders who support her.

I highly recommend and endorse Judge Grant and ask that you honor her with your vote in November.

Janet L. Stauffer

Circuit Court Judge, 7th Judicial District (Hood River, Wasco, Sherman, Wheeler, Gilliam counties)

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