The Goldendale Sentinel - Headlines & History since 1879

By Lou Marzeles

Petition started to defund sheriff


Thursday, June 11, 7:42 p.m.

A petition is circulating online demanding that the Klickitat County Commissioners act to defund the Sheriff’s Office and move funds instead to health and safety concerns. The petition does not identify what those alternative measures should be.

“Klickitat County spends more on the Sheriff’s department than on affordable housing, Economic Development, and public health combined,” the petition says. It does not cite corroborative sources.

The document does not provide information on who began it or how long it’s been up. It does show the names and cities of residence of all signatures collected so far—a total at the moment of 216 people. Of that number, the overwhelming majority is from the west end of the county, White Salmon mostly but also Bingen, Trout Lake, Husum, BZ Corner, and a few from Lyle. Despite the letter saying it’s from concerned citizens of Klickitat County, a few signatures are from outside the county, one being from British Columbia. Six signatures are from Goldendale.

The letter lists the current pandemic and recent protests in the wake of the George Floyd killing as two issues that have highlighted what the petition calls a failure of elected leadership in the county, which it says has “resulted in justified anger.”

The petition goes into statistics on county spending, without citing sources for the citation. It states the county “is spending over $5 million of our budget on the Sheriff’s department. Funding for the Sheriff increased by 4 percent over the last year, while funding for public health and affordable housing decreased.” The letter calls these figures unacceptable, claiming that “over 8.4 percent of our budget is spent on Sheriff Songer’s department while only 2.5 percent is spent on public health, and even less is spent on affordable housing.” It then criticizes the County Commissioners for authorizing the purchase of five vehicles costing more than $300,000 and the sheriff to receive an 8 percent raise “while all other county employees have a 2.5 percent cost of living adjustment.”

There is no mention of when the petition may be presented to the county commissioners.


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