Prior to serving on Vancouver City Council, Pat Campbell was best known locally as a wannabe politician. He had failed in four bids for elective office in five years. Now, since his upset election to the council in 2007, Campbell has done little to shed that old baggage, keeping a low profile and sidestepping opportunities to emerge as leader, innovator or motivator.
By contrast, Anne McEnerny-Ogle, is one of the busiest and most forward-thinking civic activists in Vancouver. More than just the chair of the Shumway Neighborhood Association for 16 years, she is current chair of the Vancouver Neighborhood Alliance, for which she’s attended 31 meetings in two years. McEnerny-Ogle’s selfless contributions of time, energy and ideas to her community have drawn The Columbian’s endorsement in the Aug. 16 primary race for Vancouver City Council, Pos. 6. The third candidate in this race is Bill Turlay, who ran unsuccessfully for Vancouver City Council in 2009 and returns this year with his same opposition to most ideas and proposals that come before the council.
Many readers might be surprised that the primary is “here,” but it’s true. Primary ballots were mailed Friday, with city council, school board, port, fire district and other races affecting about half of the registered voters in Clark County. Turnout likely will be lower than what’s seen in general elections, perhaps lower than the 23.2 percent turnout in the 2009 primary, which included the race for Vancouver mayor. The top two vote-getters in each primary race will advance to the Nov. 8 general election, for which ballots will be mailed on Oct. 19.
There is only one Vancouver City Council primary race. In the general election, council incumbents Bart Hansen and Larry Smith will face Josephine Wentzel and Cory Barnes, respectively.
In the political world, incumbency typically wields great clout, but not in Campbell’s case. His dossier is not much bulkier after four years on the council. He told The Columbian’s editorial board that serving on the council “is not fun,” and he complained about the betrayal of a former mentor on the council, whom he declined to identify. McEnerny-Ogle properly presents a stark contrast. She’s an effervescent and eager public figure who has thoroughly prepared for this race by researching all major issues and attending dozens of meetings.
This is not McEnerny-Ogle’s first run for office. She lost in 2009 to Vancouver City Councilor Jeanne Harris. In that race, The Columbian endorsed Harris, but we complimented McEnerny-Ogle as “an engaging and well-known civic activist who has gathered an impressive support base for a rookie candidate.” This year, she has the support of the police and firefighters unions, which could help her in the vote-gathering process but could haunt her if she wins and ventures into the deep, dark forests of budget cuts.
All three candidates share similar views on most of the city’s major issues, except for the Columbia River Crossing and light rail. Campbell strongly supports both, McEnerny-Ogle is less supportive and remains concerned about impact on downtown neighborhoods, and Turlay adamantly opposes both proposals. But there’s a clear distinction among these three candidates, and it’s McEnerny-Ogle’s obvious superiority in these issues both in research and civic service. She has moderated community meetings on the CRC and light rail, and her extensive understanding of the two issues is rooted in her prior membership on the I-5 Trade and Transportation Task Force and five years’ service on the City of Vancouver Planning Commission.
Neither Campbell nor Turlay come close to McEnerny-Ogle when it comes to record of civic service and rich storehouse of ideas for improving the city.