Herrera Beutler, Leavitt meet face to face

After sparring publicly, congresswoman, mayor try to bury hatchet

By Andrea Damewood, Columbian staff writer

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Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler and Vancouver Mayor Tim Leavitt met last week to bury the hatchet — but signs say there may still be some of the blade sticking up.

The pair met Thursday in Vancouver for a one-on-one talk, Leavitt said.

“I felt it was time and it was appropriate to sit down face to face with our congresswoman and discuss details of the Columbia River Crossing, look for common ground and work to bury the hatchet on previous public interactions and correspondence,” Leavitt, 41, said.

Leavitt and Herrera Beutler, 33, have sparred publicly over the CRC, exchanging letters calling each other’s motivations into question. Herrera Beutler has called for an immediate vote in the entire service district on a C-Tran sales tax increase for light rail and bus rapid transit. Leavitt has urged the board to take its time to ensure members have all the information they need before going to voters.

Leavitt also had sharp words about the freshman Republican’s first term as he pondered a run at her seat — after just two years into his first term. Herrera Beutler responded in a story about his potential run that “zero percent of her time is spent thinking about potential political opponents.”

Leavitt has since decided not to run against Herrera Beutler.

While the mayor declined to say specifically what they talked about, he said he and the congresswoman exchanged phone numbers so they could more easily reach one another and that he appreciated her making time in her busy schedule.

“She has committed to me that she recognizes the importance of this project to the entire West Coast of the United States and that it is an interstate highway project that warrants significant attention from the federal level,” Leavitt said.

Herrera Beutler’s camp wasn’t as eloquent about the meet-up. In a one-sentence email reply, spokesman Casey Bowman called the meeting “productive.”

Andrea Damewood: 360-735-4522; http://www.twitter.com/col_cityhall; andrea.damewood@columbian.com.