Councilor Jeanne Harris knocked out in primary

McEnerny-Ogle, Decker will vie to replace her

By Stephanie Rice, Columbian Vancouver city government reporter

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The longest-serving member of the Vancouver City Council will be stepping down at the end of the year.

Councilor Jeanne Harris finished fourth in a five-way primary race, according to preliminary results provided Tuesday night by the Clark County Elections Office.

She’ll be replaced by either Anne McEnerny-Ogle or Frank Decker, who advanced to the Nov. 5 general election.

McEnerny-Ogle, a retired math teacher who serves as chairwoman of the Vancouver Neighborhood Alliance and president of the League of Women Voters of Clark County, finished first in the primary with 35 percent of the vote. Decker, executive supervisor of instructional technology and assessment for the Centennial School District in Gresham, Ore., came in second with 23 percent of the vote.

Along with Harris, candidates Galina Burley and Adam Fox were eliminated.

Harris said Tuesday that she’s loved all 16 years on the council.

Voters are looking for someone who offers a different perspective, she said, “and there’s nothing wrong with that. Fresh insight is a good thing for Vancouver.”

A 2010 video clip of Harris yelling at Mayor Tim Leavitt to “gavel down” an anti-Columbia River Crossing speaker who was making derogatory comments to Harris made her a target for CRC opponents, even though other members of the council supported the project.

Harris said earlier this year she hoped one day wouldn’t define her years of public service, but said Tuesday she thinks the “gavel down” incident factored in her loss.

Leavitt said Tuesday that Harris’ institutional knowledge will be a loss for the council.

“Her experience has been invaluable with certain issues we’ve faced,” said Leavitt.

Two other members of the council up for re-election, Jack Burkman and Jeanne Stewart, finished first in their primary races.

Preliminary results showed Burkman with 45 percent of the vote. He’ll tentatively face Micheline Doan, a retired pagination clerk for US West DEX who ran an unsuccessful campaign for 17th District state representative in 2008. Candidate Brian Joseph Smith, a communications engineer, trailed Doan by 180 votes.

Candidate Otto Guardado finished last.

Stewart led her race with 39 percent of votes. She’ll face Alishia Topper, senior director of development for the Fort Vancouver National Trust, who received 31 percent of votes. Topper said Ty Stober, an initiative manager for Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance who finished third, ran a great campaign.

Stober and Topper each raised more than $20,000, about four times as much money as Stewart has in her campaign account.

“Now the hard work starts,” Topper said.

Leavitt, who is also up for re-election, has only one opponent. He’ll face Councilor Bill Turlay in November.

City councilors currently earn $1,781 a month and receive health benefits.

Turnout in Tuesday’s election was dismal. The Secretary of State’s office said turnout for a primary election averages 30 percent, but on Tuesday it averaged 20 percent. Of reporting counties, Clark and Snohomish tied for the lowest turnout rate in the state, both at 16 percent, according to the Secretary of State’s office.

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