Brian Mittge Commentary:: Get Fired Up — Your Vote Matters


I began the week feeling like a guy who conquered a mountain. The Fire District 5 property tax levy in my home area of rural Napavine south of Chehalis was passing by a single vote.

I’m a big fan of having robust emergency coverage in my neck of the woods, so I was pleased to see our always-ready firefighters getting the funding boost. I was confident they’d put it to good use.

What made me feel even better was that my wife and I had put our ballots in the mail on the day of the election. The ballot measure had been failing after the first count, but late-arriving ballots (including ours) had pushed it just over the top.

Naturally, I took credit.

OK, I know my ballot didn’t count any more than any other, and that it’s silly to think that mine was at the top of the heap, but I couldn’t help it.

In our democratic republic, every vote counts, and I counted mine as the topper.

However, I end the week as forlorn as I had been formerly ebullient.

A few more even later-arriving ballots had pushed the measure in the other direction. As of now, the Fire District 5 funding levy is behind, 926 votes to 927. And because it needs 50% plus one vote to win, it’s actually trailing by two votes.

It’s pretty late in the game to hope that more ballots are still in the mail, but one can dream.

Ironically, the vote count flipped to the negative side just as Fire District 5 crews were fighting a 20-acre blaze a few miles from my house, ignited by someone illegally burning (despite a burn ban in drought conditions) in an illegal burn barrel (outlawed decades ago).

The same day, this mostly volunteer crew responded to crashes, emergency medical calls and the typical range of burgeoning domestic disasters that only they, with their training and equipment, can forestall.

I’m a big advocate for funding our fire districts. I’m curious as to why a bare majority of my neighbors disagree. Drop me a line if you’d like to let me know why you voted no. 

The bottom line here is that the old cliche is true: every vote counts.


More Wonderful Women of Lewis County

I loved all the responses to my last few weeks of columns about noteworthy women of Lewis County’s past and present.

My columns were inspired by a new exhibit at the Lewis County Historical Museum honoring the women of our community. I added my own ideas to the mix and asked for more suggestions. You folks came through.

Former Chehalis City Manager Dave Campbell sent me a nice note nominating his wife, Longtime United Way of Lewis County Executive Director Debbie Campbell, “of whom I am justifiably, enormously proud,” he wrote.

He’s completely right, and I’m abashed that I didn’t put her on my list. Debbie is amazing and has been a vital leader for our community through good times and bad during her 22 years (!) at the helm of UWLC. I don’t have time to list all her contributions (in coordination with many other important volunteers), but they include coordinating the mass vaccination clinics at the fairgrounds earlier this year, helping put together the Dolly Parton Imagination Library, and leading the human recovery effort after the flood of 2007.

Jim Lowery of Centralia rightly noted that the late Donna Karvia deserved to be on the list, and he’s right. Our longtime county clerk was a gentle giant and a quiet lion, adored and admired by all who knew her.

Brian Zylstra of Chehalis added two other worthy names: Wilma Rosbach, who was a longtime Chehalis businesswoman and 20th District state representative for several terms, and Joyce Venemon, who was a Chehalis City Council member for many years.

I also should add Lynn Braun, who was honored recently at the United Way Power of the Purse event for her many contributions to the community.

Several folks expressed surprise that I didn’t include Edna Fund in last week’s list of legendary living ladies of Lewis County.

“One person I expected to see was Edna Fund, who is still busy volunteering her services with the flood control committee, but who was our commissioner for 8 years in addition to serving the needy on church committees for many years, and working as a tireless volunteer in the Timberland Library board and the Chehalis Museum board, and I don’t even know what else,” said Cyndy Larson of Chehalis. “She was raised on a farm in Onalaska, I believe. She makes me tired just to think about her!”

Indeed, Edna was actually the very first person I put on my list when I heard about the exhibit at the museum. She was actually included in the exhibit, so I didn’t put her in my own list. She certainly deserves thanks and notice for her energy and selfless dedication to our community.

Thanks to those who made a suggestion, and thank you to everyone, whether recognized or not, who give back in big and small ways to make our shared life together so rich.


Dad joke of the week: No matter how far you push the envelope, it’ll still be stationery.


Brian Mittge’s column appears in The Chronicle each Saturday. He can be reached at