C-Tran’s board of directors on Tuesday recommended that Gov. Chris Gregoire appoint veteran Vancouver city councilor Jeanne Stewart to the Columbia River Crossing’s Project Sponsors Council.
Stewart was nominated by fellow C-Tran board member Tom Mielke, a Clark County commissioner.
A spokesman for the governor indicated Stewart’s appointment isn’t a foregone conclusion.
“We’re going to make sure it is a thorough and diligent process,” spokesman Viet Shelton said. “We want to make sure we get the right people on the council. Input is fine, and we’ll certainly take the recommendation under consideration as we go through and review possible candidates.”
Stewart has criticized the proposed light rail alignment in Vancouver, and has strongly opposed tolling the new bridge.
She also has been sharply critical of a recent letter in which four members of the sponsors council declared the crossing is “unacceptable” as currently designed. The letter was signed by Vancouver Mayor Tim Leavitt, Portland Mayor Sam Adams, Clark County Commissioner Steve Stuart and Metro council President David Bragdon.
She noted that Oregon representatives have pushed for higher tolls and a smaller bridge.
“I believe we have a different opinion, in Clark County and Vancouver, about what constitutes good performance,” Stewart wrote in a letter to Leavitt. “Constraining, restricting and discouraging are not the goals or objectives I hear from Vancouver citizens or from Clark County residents regarding the corridor.”
If Gregoire appoints Stewart, the city councilor will represent C-Tran on the 10-member Project Sponsors Council. Leavitt, a former city councilor who previously represented C-Tran on the sponsors council, shifted to Vancouver’s seat at the table after defeating Royce Pollard in November to become mayor.
Gregoire also must appoint one other vacant position on the sponsors council.
That position, one of two at-large citizen representatives, was previously held by Washington State University Vancouver Chancellor Hal Dengerink, who stepped down for health reasons.
The Project Sponsors Council is next scheduled to meet on March 12 in Portland.
Gregoire and Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski formed the sponsors council in June of 2008 to advise state transportation officials and transit agencies on the project’s design and financing. Each governor appoints representatives from their respective states, so it’s up to Gregoire to appoint both of the vacant Washington positions.
“There is no set time line, other than we want to make sure that we get the right two people, and we get it done sooner rather than later,” Shelton said.