In Our View: Lentz for County Council

Challenger to incumbent Stewart offers well-informed, thoughtful views

The Columbian - Local News
In Our View: Lentz for County Council

Despite being a first-time candidate for office, Democrat Temple Lentz demonstrates the kind of thoughtful and energetic leadership necessary to prepare Clark County for a prosperous future. The Columbian’s Editorial Board recommends that voters support Lentz in the race for Clark County councilor from District 1.

As always, this is merely a recommendation. The contest between Lentz and Republican incumbent Jeanne Stewart provides sharp ideological contrasts that offer something for voters on both sides of the political spectrum.

Lentz’s qualifications for the position have been developed through a decade of community involvement. She was an elected freeholder who helped devise the county charter, which was passed by voters in 2014, and she sits on the governing boards of Friends of the Columbia Gorge and the Hough Foundation, adding to a list of previous leadership roles in the region. On her website, she stresses, “As Clark County grows and changes, our government needs to grow and change.”

While it is relatively easy to appear thoughtful on a campaign website, Lentz is even more impressive in person. She demonstrates an engaging and insightful demeanor, and clearly is well-informed on the issues facing the county. “What I see lacking on the county council right now is a vision for the future,” Lentz said during an interview with the editorial board.

Lentz is facing an experienced and informed incumbent in Stewart, who sat on the Vancouver City Council from 2001-13 and was elected to the county council in 2014. During her first two years in county government, Stewart often was the sole voice of reason on a three-member board.

That experience marks Stewart as a strong candidate, but the dynamics of her campaign have changed. She initially was elected in a countywide race, but the charter split the county council into representation by district, and this is the first time District 1 voters will choose a local councilor. District 1 lies primarily within the city of Vancouver west of Interstate 205.

On policy issues, Lentz 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. “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 says the county’s budget shortfall will require a long-range fix. 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.

Lentz supports replacing the Interstate 5 Bridge and generally favors the inclusion of light rail, while Stewart believes a third bridge should be the priority.

With clear policy differences, Lentz and Stewart are likely to have constituencies of like-minded supporters. But for voters who do not strongly align with either candidate, we believe Lentz is the superior choice. She has the ability to view an issue from multiple angles and devise effective solutions.

The Columbian recommends Temple Lentz for Clark County councilor from District 1.