The contest for Clark County Council representative from District 1 presents a new opportunity for voters. This marks the first time residents in the district — most of which lies within the city of Vancouver west of Interstate 205 — will select their own councilor. Before implementation of the home rule charter approved by voters in 2014, all members of the board were selected in a countywide vote.
When voters in District 1 look at their ballots, they will find three qualified candidates for the Aug. 7 primary. The Columbian’s Editorial Board recommends Temple Lentz and Jeanne Stewart as the best candidates for advancement to the Nov. 6 general election. Lentz, a Democrat, has a long history of community involvement but is running for government office for the first time; Stewart, a Republican, is a one-term incumbent and a former member of the Vancouver City Council who has a long history of elective office.
As always, this is simply a recommendation designed to foster discussion and provide some insight to the race. Democrat Jim Moeller, a former city councilor and state legislator, also is on the ballot; so is Veny Razumovsky, who represents the CascadiaNow Party but is not running an active campaign.
Lentz served on the Board of Freeholders that wrote the county charter approved by voters, and she brings an enthusiastic and thoughtful demeanor to her campaign. “What I see lacking on the county council right now is a vision for the future,” she said during an interview with The Columbian’s Editorial Board.
She accurately notes that a current shortfall in the county budget was caused by several years of the council declining to seek a permissible 1 percent increase in property tax levies, and she brings a realistic approach to future solutions. She generally favors lifting the county’s moratorium on marijuana businesses — depending on the details of the proposal — and she says the county should take a more aggressive approach in dealing with affordable housing throughout the area. “I think there’s a lot the county can do, and I think it’s not doing enough right now,” she said in regards to homelessness.
Stewart was a city council member from 2001-13 before losing a bid for re-election. The following year, she won election to the county board, and she earned praise for being the lone voice of reason at a time of discord and volatility in county government.
Stewart says the county’s budget shortfall will require a long-range fix: “Programs that do the most good are labor intensive. There’s no magical wand on this.” She favors maintaining the moratorium on marijuana businesses in unincorporated areas, expressing concern about marijuana’s impact on community health, and she stresses a need to address the root causes of homelessness such as substance abuse and mental illness.
When it comes to transportation, Lentz favors replacing the Interstate 5 Bridge, while Stewart believes additional bridges should be the priority.
Ideologically, Moeller aligns more directly with Lentz. He is particularly focused upon lifting the moratorium on marijuana businesses, in part to provide tax revenue for the county. While Clark County as a whole narrowly opposed the 2012 statewide vote that approved recreational marijuana, precincts in what is now District 1 supported the measure.
While we wish Razumovsky were running an active campaign to add to the diversity of voices in District 1, voters have three solid candidates from which to choose. The Columbian recommends Temple Lentz and Jeanne Stewart in the primary election for Clark County Council.