Readers defend a judge from accusations, offer candidate endorsements and more.

Judge Grant has been vindicated

There is a continuing attempt to challenge the honesty and integrity of Jenefer Grant, based upon a year-old news article citing a report prepared for the Columbia County Board of Commissioners ("Judge Grant falsely accuses colleague of stalking," published May 18, 2019).

Read the Spotlight's story on the investigative report concerning Judge Jenefer Grant from May 18, 2019.

I know this report was an attempt to disparage Judge Grant for raising concerns regarding the director of our local probation office. Rather than investigate the problems within this department, it was decided to label Judge Grant as dishonest.

Since the recent resignation of the director, the concerns raised by Judge Grant have been voiced by those probation officers remaining with the county, as well as by numerous former probation officers who worked for this county ("A toxic work environment," published Oct. 2, 2020).

Read the Spotlight's cover story on Janet Evans from Oct. 2, 2020.

Classic case of "spear the messenger."

Ted Grove

Judge, Columbia County Circuit Court

Clarke would make an excellent judge

As a family, we would like to endorse Michael T. Clarke for the Columbia County judgeship during the coming election.

We have known and done business with Mr. Clarke, and we feel he would be excellent in the position he is seeking. He is very knowledgeable of the various aspects of the law, he is prompt and deliberate in his decisions, and he has a very positive, supportive and fair-minded aspect to his personality.

Michael Clarke will bring to the court a professional, forward-thinking and strong demeanor, and he will add a fresh perspective to the court.

Don Jeanroy and Chan Springer, Columbia City

Dirty politics a disappointment in Columbia County

In such a trying time, I'm surprised to see the dirt that is being dug up. Actually, I'm not surprised. Columbia County has two county commissioner seats to fill this November. As the clock starts counting down, I'm startled in the actions of some of the candidates. Especially the candidates that are running for Position 3.

I, as a three-decade Columbia County resident, volunteer and business manager, am disappointed in the lack of concern Alex Tardif has for this county. He was the leader in creating the Path to Fiscal Sustainability document that creates new taxes and a new expo center with a budget of (on the low end) $3 million. With what money? Our tax dollars! The report cost more than $50,000, and that's not even including the staff time of putting it together. Now, the idea sounds great and the jobs it would bring would be minimal, as it will be a seasonal facility. Don't you think that money would be better used in other areas?

Over the past several months, I have gone to many events where I was surprised to not see Mr. Tardif. The donation of a logging crawler tractor to the Crown Zellerbach Trail where I saw Henry Heimuller, Margaret Magruder and Casey Garrett. Now I know Casey is on the Crown Zellerbach board, but there's no reason our county commissioner should be absent just because of a position (after all, isn't this about community?). Sadly, Mr. Tardif wasn't even at the ribbon-cutting of the Ruley trailhead the day the county celebrated its accomplishments.

So maybe COVID-19 is weighing on Mr. Tardif's mind. Well, all these events I've gone to, everyone was wearing masks and following all state guidelines. So, my question here is, "Where is our county commissioner that wants to volunteer and help out when we need it?" I can tell you he is having a meet-and-greet soon. I think it is completely outrageous if you can't volunteer your time to helping our community, but you can be sure to have a campaign event.

After all, everyone makes mistakes and that's how we grow and move on as people. In Casey's current position with the Columbia County Parks Department, he has done a great job at maintaining and making the parks feel more inviting and welcoming here in Columbia County. He is a pleasure to work with.

With all the negativity going on in the world right now, the closures and economically hurt citizens in our county, let's all take our ballots to the box this November, and "let's get the job done."

Jenn Rau, Vernonia

We need more leaders like Magruder

In this sad and chaotic year, I have been very disappointed in many of Oregon's leaders. Consequently, I value even more highly the few I can trust. Columbia County Commissioner Margaret Magruder and Sen. Betsy Johnson are two of those few.

I value Margaret's common sense, her vast knowledge of Columbia County and the state of Oregon. Margaret actually goes out to the people of Columbia County and interacts with them on a person to person basis. She has tramped through backyards and towns to see firsthand the problems our neighbors are facing.

She is a hands-on commissioner. She relates well to people from all walks of life. She is one of us, and works for us.

Margaret researches and listens carefully to all sides of an issue before making a decision. She is courageous. She is effective, and works together with other elected leaders for our benefit.

If we gain any hindsight from 2020, it should be that we need more people like Margaret Magruder and Betsy Johnson in office. Please join me in re-electing Margaret Magruder to the Columbia County Board of Commissioners.

Marie Gadotti, Scappoose

Judge Grant serves Columbia County well

I am writing this letter to ask Columbia County voters to vote for Judge Jenefer Stenzel Grant on Nov. 3.

I have personally known her for over 20 years, first as an attorney, and then as a judge. She is intelligent, experienced, dedicated, honest and hardworking.

Being a judge is not easy — people come to the court expecting it to fix their problems and impose justice.

Judge Grant carefully listens to those who appear in her court, analyzes each situation based upon her 13 years of judicial experience, applies the law, and does all this with compassion and integrity. Even those who may disagree with her rulings leave the courtroom feeling that they have been heard and understood.

Please join me in re-electing Judge Grant to the third position of the Columbia County Circuit Court.

Diana M. Shera Taylor

Justice of the Peace, Columbia County Justice Court

No P.E.O. Poinsettia Sale this year

The P.E.O. Sisterhood, St. Helens Chapter BO would like to thank everyone who purchased poinsettias from us in past years.

The proceeds from this annual fundraiser provides scholarships to local women pursuing their education. This year, nine Columbia County women were given a total of $17,760 in local, state and international scholarships for the fall 2020 school year.

This year, we will not be selling poinsettias due to the COVID-19 virus and the economic hardship it has caused on everyone, including our local businesses who purchase from us every year. We look forward to selling them to you in 2021.

P.E.O. is a philanthropic organization where women celebrate the advancement of women; educate women through scholarships, grants, awards, loans and stewardship of Cottey College; and motivate women to achieve their highest aspirations.

Again, thank you to our friends, family and local businesses who support our Poinsettia Sale, which makes these scholarships possible. Looking forward to selling poinsettias to you in 2021!

Karen Van Winkle

P.E.O. Sisterhood, St. Helens Chapter

Dudzic will transform county government for the better

As a registered nurse living and working in Columbia County, I see the devastating impacts on our community when elected officials put profits and power before the people they've committed to serve. In light of recent revelations about the current Columbia County Board of Commissioners, I call on us all to demand more of our elected officials. This Nov. 3, we must elect Brandee Dudzic for Columbia County commissioner.

For years, our county has been led by people who have prioritized special interests and personal gains. It is time we elect county leaders who will stand up for the best interest of everyone in our community, not just the few. Brandee Dudzic is up for the challenge and ready to work for us.

Brandee will lead with her values: commitment to democracy, equity, and fairness. She will keep her door open for each and every one of us, instead of upholding systems that shut us out. Brandee will fight for us, for our children, and our grandchildren. She will stand up for living wage work and support small businesses. Brandee will advocate for preservation of our natural resources while supporting local farmers.

It is time to vote for the change that Columbia County needs. Please join me, this Nov. 3, in voting for the well-being of our community by electing Brandee Dudzic for Columbia County Commissioner, Position 1.

Melissa Busch, Warren

Grant a valued advocate on the bench

I have had the privilege of working with Judge Jenefer Grant, and I hold her in high regard.

Judge Grant brings a unique balance of complex problem solving skills and compassion to the bench, and Columbia County is fortunate to have her leadership.

She has been a champion for specialty courts and understands the importance letting empirical evidence drive practices for social programs which have a lasting positive impact on individuals and families in our community. This demonstrates that she deeply understands the responsibility of stewardship in her position.

She is a consummate advocate for survivors of crime and seeks the balance of justice and rehabilitation.

It is my experience that Judge Grant makes sound ethical decisions despite criticism from individuals who do not understand (nor seek to understand) the context of a situation. She has my vote.

Chris Hoover, Scappoose

Magruder deserves re-election to board

Margaret Magruder is intelligent, knowledgeable and experienced. A third-generation Columbia County farmer, she has been a leader in agriculture, agribusiness, and natural resource management on the county, state and national level for decades.

With the high rate of commuting to employment outside the county, Margaret also realizes Northwest Oregon's need for more local, family-wage-paying jobs. She believes that a balance between industry and the environment can be achieved, and she is working towards that goal.

Margaret's natural style of leadership is to bring people of varying viewpoints together, listen with an open mind, research the facts, and build consensus towards a solution that will be of benefit to the majority of Columbia County residents. She works well with people across the political spectrum and from all walks of life.

Margaret has in abundance a commodity that seems to be increasingly rare among elected leaders these days — common sense.

Knowledge, experience, a bipartisan approach and common sense. Please join us in re-electing Margaret Magruder to the Columbia County Board of Commissioners.

Phil and Deborah Hazen, Clatskanie

County board needs Dudzic

I am a lawyer in Columbia County the last decade, and before Brandee Dudzic accepted her position at the law library, she worked with me and my clients.

The bulk of the work in my legal practice involves children in the foster care system and their families. One of the most significant roles Brandee played was collaboration with the child welfare system and its countless community partners in order to advocate for safe, healthy outcomes for a truly vulnerable population — children and struggling families.

For as long as I have known Brandee, she's had a remarkably full plate with a lot of responsibilities. Yet she showed up ready to work every day.

Brandee consistently went above and beyond for our clients. Her work was always thorough and thoughtful; this is vital when children and families' futures are at stake. She was also responsible for creating monthly reports to the state where accuracy and deadlines mattered greatly.

Brandee had an amazing ability to connect to clients; she remembers birthdays, names of siblings, and many other things that make people feel special when they are with her.

Brandee Dudzic is a tireless worker and poured her heart out for our work and our clients. She balanced raising a family, finishing graduate school at the top of her class, and handling cases filled with trauma. I have no doubt she would do the same for the people of Columbia County.

Brandee is exactly who we need on the Columbia County Board of Commissioners. Please join me in voting for Brandee Dudzic on Nov. 3.

Paul Aubry, Columbia City

President an irresponsible, reckless patient

If I was so foolish as to sit in the path of a fast locomotive while believing that trains are made of fluffy marshmallows and only hurt others, but not me because I am "special," it is unlikely that the citizens of America would want to pay my medical bills.

Mr. Trump is not "special," despite his beliefs. By intentionally exposing himself to an often deadly disease, he has taken actions for which he must bear responsibility. The estimated costs today of his added abnormal medical care exceed $1 million — an amount that is more than many Americans can earn in a lifetime of actual hard work. (Just the helicopter ride to Walter Reed was around $50,000, one way.)

That number does not include the costs of the security, police, information handlers, etc., that were forced to be in proximity to him and therefore also at risk — nor does it include yet another taxpayer-funded political joyride in the taxpayer-funded limousine.

There are going to be many lawsuits for reckless endangerment, negligent homicide, manslaughter, etc. as the result of these ignorant, dishonest, egotistical actions. The perpetrator must personally pay those costs.

Pay your own damn self-inflicted virus care costs, Mr. Trump! You did the crime, do the time.

Charles Bickford, Deer Island

Measure 108 will protect kids from e-cigarettes

As a parent, I'm deeply concerned about my son's health, especially the e-cigarette epidemic.

Across Oregon, teen e-cigarette use increased 80% in the past two years. Unfortunately, research shows youth who use e-cigarettes are more likely to start smoking cigarettes. No wonder Big Tobacco targets our kids.

Yet Oregon doesn't tax e-cigarettes.

Although my son is young, I know it's important to start the work now to ensure he's not a victim of these tactics and won't have access to these deadly items. Help me protect my son.

One of the best ways to keep kids from smoking is to make all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, more expensive. Ballot Measure 108 will tax e-cigarettes for the first time in Oregon and increase our cigarette tax. This cigarette tax will prevent about 19,000 kids and young adults from starting to smoke.

The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network and many health care organizations endorse Measure 108. It will protect kids from a lifetime addiction, save lives from a preventable death and lower health care costs for everyone. The revenue will fund health care programs, including tobacco prevention and cessation programs to fight tobacco.

Join me to vote yes on Measure 108.

Rachel Sarasohn, Tigard

Partisan gerrymandering is a bipartisan practice

After this election each state will be tasked with redrawing congressional districts as well as state House and Senate districts.

In most states, whichever party controls the Legislature will get to draw them. That's the case here in Oregon.

It's disappointing that the voters won't get to vote on creating an independent redistricting committee.

I worry about redistricting. Why? Because we know for a fact that Democrats don't draw fair maps. Look at the Northeast. It's gerrymandered so much that it's basically impossible for a Republican to win.

But we also know for a fact that Republicans don't draw a fair map either. Look at Pennsylvania and North Carolina before the Supreme Court ruled that it was racially gerrymandered and new districts had to be drawn.

With Oregon set to gain an extra Congressional seat, it's important that we have a fair map so all citizens are heard, not just the ones the politicians want to hear.

I worry that whichever party has a majority in 2021 will unfairly rig the map to benefit their party.

This isn't a partisan issue. Both Democrats and Republicans rig the map. Don't believe me? Google Maryland congressional district map and Ohio congressional district map.

John Meissinger, Sherwood

Raging pandemic, looming elections take toll on mental health

Ever since the coronavirus spread across the United States, anxiety and depression has affected my daily life and changed the way I look at the future.

Fear has gripped my life, and at times it becomes suffocating to the point where I cannot do anything productive. It became harder to focus on work during meetings, and more challenging to finish tasks and be productive at work. Even our meetings revolve around discussing coronavirus and when we will be able to return to the office safely.

When I watch TV, everything I see is about coronavirus; even the ads are not the same annoying cheerful ones I used to watch on TV. So, it became difficult to think about the future without thinking about the pandemic.

I know that for many people they lost a loved one or they contracted the virus themselves. I know many people in my life that contracted or died from the virus, and that just increases my fear.

I dislike going to the grocery stores because I get a feeling that I am putting myself in danger of contracting the virus, even though I am wearing a three-layer, gloves and I make sure that I wipe all the groceries with disinfectant wipes when I get back home. Many of my friends who are living in Oregon share my fears about their safety and health.

What gets me through the bad days is the fact that I am not alone in this, and I have the support of millions of Americans, because we are all in this together and we must help each other.

It is especially important to pay attention to our mental health during this month with Election Day, only weeks away from now. I have a constant unsettling feeling in my heart when I watch the news about the election and see the state of what this country has become.

It frustrates me that the current administration dismisses the seriousness of coronavirus, even though they have one of the largest outbreaks within the walls of the White House. It pains me to hear the comments of the current leadership and cannot help thinking about the importance of this year's election, and what the consequences of the result would be if the wrong person were elected.

In the past few weeks, we have heard that coronavirus is not serious, and the flu is worse. [Ed.: The coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 is significantly deadlier than the influenza virus, according to experts.] We heard that we should not let the pandemic dominate our lives, but the fact stays the same that this administration failed to curb the effects of the pandemic. As a result, we have 212,000 Americans who have died of the virus.

The decision on Nov. 3 has not been any easier than this year.

Reem Alkattan, Tigard

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