Everyone should already know how important it is to vote, but the close margin of victory for the Pasco school bond certainly drives the point home.
The measure ended up on a ballot counting yo-yo ride before the final tally Tuesday put it over the edge by only seven votes.
Initially, the school bond was failing on election night.
Later, it was passing by three votes and then, after another count, down by one.
There were ballots that needed verification to be valid, and Franklin County officials decided to wait until the election was certified before announcing one last total.
That meant everyone on both sides of the issue had to wait two weeks before the final results. The anxiety was tough to bear — even for those of us who don’t live in Pasco.
Kids are kids no matter what town they live in, and there were many supporters in Richland, Kennewick and other parts of the Mid-Columbia rooting for the Pasco school bond to pass.
When the good news came through, it was like getting an early Christmas present for bond supporters.
Those who had backed the school bond and voted should take pride in knowing that by doing their civic duty they made a huge difference for Pasco kids.
We urged voters before the election not to look at the issue as a list of things the district wants, but rather as a list of what our students need but do not have available.
An updated batch of numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau this fall showed that Pasco continues to be the fastest growing large city in Washington, gaining nearly 8,000 people since 2012 for a total of nearly 72,000.
Between 2012 and 2016, Pasco approved 1,320 new homes. Many of them sold to families with children.
The schools have not been able to keep up with the city’s exploding growth, and school playgrounds have been taken over by portables in order to handle the overcrowding.
Now the $99.5 million bond will help pay for two new elementary schools, a new middle school and the rebuilding of Stevens Middle School, which is 56 years old.
Roger Lenk, leader of Pasco Citizens for Effective Schools, opposed the Pasco School Bond and told the Herald the slim margin showed the community’s lack of trust in the district’s spending.
He compared the results to past school bond measures in Richland and Kennewick that have been approved with much higher margins.
But considering that school bonds require a 60 percent supermajority to pass, we think Pasco’s “close” triumph really isn’t all that close.
The final count was 6,270 in favor and 4,167 against for a total of 10,437 votes cast. The bond ended up with 60.07 percent approval, showing that the vast majority of Pasco residents favored it.
Interestingly enough, The Seattle Times Editorial Board last week suggested it’s time to change the law and require a simple majority vote to pass school construction bonds.
Many school bond measures fail because they can’t quite reach the supermajorty threshold, even though the majority of voters support them.
Between 2011 and 2017, there were 94 school districts throughout the state that lost school bonds even though they had more than 50 percent yes votes, according to The Times.
It wasn’t so long ago when a 60 percent, supermajority vote was necessary to pass school levies as well, but voters statewide chose to do away with that requirement in 2007.
Whether lawmakers want to try and start something similar with school bonds remains to be seen.
But in Pasco, at least, the supermajority came through.
And it truly was super.