Why was Boldt sanctioned by GOP?

Party leaders wanted commissioner to "straighten up"

By Stephanie Rice, Columbian Vancouver city government reporter

Published:

Updated: March 22, 2012, 7:22 PM

 

Republican Marc Boldt was sanctioned by the county party’s executive board more than three months ago for making decisions that were deemed out of line with the party.

Boldt, 57, faces a challenger from within his party in his bid for a third term on the Board of Clark County Commissioners.

The sanctions included getting removed from the Clark County GOP’s website and not being able to use the party’s resources, such as financial support and mailing lists, said Brandon Vick, chairman of the Clark County GOP.

A Clark County Democrats official said Thursday the party does not sanction elected officials.

Boldt said Thursday he plans to meet next week with the GOP’s executive board to see if sanctions will be lifted.

US Digital CEO David Madore, 60, announced March 17 he will run against Boldt.

Boldt said he still considers himself a Republican.

“I’m disappointed with what a few of the executive board members did, but I don’t lump them in with the party,” Boldt said. “And I think there’s a difference between being elected by the party and governing for everybody.”

Boldt said he met with party leaders in November, a week before a Nov. 29 public hearing on a proposed admissions tax that would have helped pay for a minor league baseball stadium at Clark College. Boldt went into the hearing as the swing vote, as Republican Tom Mielke had made it clear he didn’t support the proposal and Democrat Steve Stuart was a major backer.

Boldt voted no, killing the proposal to bring the Yakima Bears to Vancouver.

Boldt said he found out a few days after the hearing that he’d been sanctioned.

Vick couldn’t recall the exact dates but cited four reasons why Boldt was sanctioned: endorsing a Democrat, endorsing one tax and two fee increases, voting against going through the home-rule charter process and suggesting that he would support the admissions tax.

• The Democrat: In 2010, Boldt endorsed Stuart. Vick said Boldt didn’t have to endorse Republican challenger Alan Svehaug, but Boldt should not have endorsed a Democrat.

• Taxes and fees: In 2011, Boldt was chairman of the C-Tran Board of Directors when the public approved Proposition 1. That raised the local sales tax rate by 0.2 of a percentage point, which C-Tran said was needed to maintain basic bus service. Also last year, Boldt and Stuart voted to increase the county 911 monthly excise tax from 50 cents to 70 cents to fix Clark Regional Emergency Service Agency’s unsustainable budget. Because commissioners decided in 2010 not to follow the state’s suggestion of increasing the monthly tax to the maximum rate of 70 cents, the state responded by withholding $500,000 from the state 911 fund; the law says only counties that are taxing at the maximum rate can benefit from the state fund. CRESA also had $300,000 in new annual maintenance fees for the county’s computer-aided dispatch system.

CRESA Director Tom Griffith said if commissioners didn’t approve the increase, he would have to lay off 10 dispatchers.

In 2010, Boldt and Stuart approved a contract extension with American Medical Response that included a 5 fee percent increase for patients. Boldt and Stuart said it’s through no fault of AMR that a growing number of people are uninsured or underinsured or that the reimbursement rate from Medicaid has decreased.

• Home-rule charter: Last year Boldt and Stuart said they did not want to spend $100,000 and have an election for freeholders because they were unimpressed with low turnout at seven forums the county conducted on the charter process. Stuart and Boldt were willing to vote to let the supporters try and gather some 14,000 signatures to put the issue on the ballot. Once Mielke heard he was going to be outvoted, he said he’d rather just dump the idea.

Had commissioners gone forward with the charter process, 15 freeholders would have written a draft county charter that would go back to voters.

Under a charter, proposed changes to the structure of county government could have included giving people initiative and referendum powers (which people have on statewide issues), making certain elected positions into appointed positions or increasing the number of commissioners, for example.

Clark County Assessor Peter Van Nortwick, a Republican, told commissioners he’d heard from charter supporters who mistakenly believed it could result in lower property taxes.

Vick said support for the home-rule charter is in the party’s platform.

• Admissions tax: Boldt had indicated he would support the admissions tax. On Thursday, he said when he met with party officials a week before the public hearing, they wanted him to promise he was going to vote no. He told the board he would make up his mind after the public hearing.

Obviously, the fourth reason is no longer relevant, Vick said.

Vick said the decision to sanction Boldt was not unanimous. Vick said members of the executive board are himself, Stephanie McClintock, Ryan Hart, Nancy DeLeo, Anna Miller, Sharon Long, Michael Cummins, Mary Graham, and Kelly Stoner.

“Some people just wanted (Boldt) to straighten up,” Vick said.

The Clark County Democrats, in contrast, do not sanction officials.

“The Clark County Democrats are a ‘big tent’ organization,” Vice Chairman Nick Ande wrote in an email. “We don’t assume that all Democrats are going to have exactly the same views, and we appreciate that diversity in viewpoint within our party rather than admonishing it. No county Democrat has been blacklisted because they have what are perceived as more moderate viewpoints.”

Boldt, who represented the 17th Legislative District before being elected in 2004 to the Board of Clark County Commissioners, has talked about the difference of being a back-bencher in Olympia and one of three officials elected to set county policy.

If he and Stuart didn’t work out compromises, he said, “We’d never get anything done.”

City council seats are all nonpartisan positions. This is a good reason why, Boldt said.

Stuart agreed.

“As a Democrat, it is amusing to see Republicans eat their own,” Stuart said. “But it is bad for the community.”

Vick said the decision to sanction Boldt has nothing to do with the fact that Madore donated $4,990 to the Clark County GOP on Nov. 2, according to the state Public Disclosure Commission. The donation was made approximately three weeks before Boldt met with party officials.

“Mr. Madore was solicited for a donation so that we were able to conduct the best ‘Get Out The Vote’ effort possible,” Vick wrote in an email. “The donation was indeed very generous, but I do not believe that it was a factor in the sanction at all. The donation was never brought up during the discussion about the sanction, nor has it been brought up since. I really do think that this is an instance of strange coincidence,” Vick wrote.

Boldt, a Hockinson resident, represents District 2, essentially most of east Vancouver and the eastern portions of the county including Camas and Washougal.

Filing week is May 14-18, so there’s time for other candidates to step forward.

The top two finishers in the Aug. 7 primary, regardless of affiliation, will advance to the Nov. 6 general election.

Candidates run districtwide in the primary and countywide in the general election.

Vick said the party has a right to endorse a single candidate before a contested primary, but he doubts it will happen because an endorsement requires a two-thirds majority vote of the executive board.

Stephanie Rice: 360-735-4508 or stephanie.rice@columbian.com.