3 challenge Burkman for Vancouver council seat

Incumbent seeks third term; top 2 finishers advance

By Stephanie Rice, Columbian Vancouver city government reporter

Published:

 

Vancouver City Councilor Jack Burkman faces three opponents -- Micheline Doan, Brian Joseph Smith and Otto Guardado -- in a bid for a third term.

The top two finishers in the Aug. 6 primary will advance to the Nov. 5 general election.

Burkman said he wants to continue to work on his vision of Vancouver as a modern, safe, metropolitan city with a vibrant economy.

"We have to keep the families and businesses feeling safe and secure," Burkman said.

Other priorities include encouraging a diverse economy, continuing to stabilize city finances and ensuring solid infrastructure, all of which were also named as priorities by his challengers.

Micheline Doan, who ran an unsuccessful campaign for 17th District state representative in 2008, said she has concerns about the city allowing property tax abatements for high-density downtown developments. She was referring to a 2011 council decision to limit the property tax assessment on the land beneath Eli Kassab's Prestige Plaza -- the former site of an iconic Burgerville -- through a city property tax abatement program that will add up to about $1 million in savings over the first dozen years.

Burkman has advocated putting such development agreements on the city's website (the project is under way) because letting the public see what deals the city gives to businesses helps develop public trust, he said.

During a recent council workshop on development agreements, it was made

clear that the city offers benefits to match or exceed offers by other jurisdictions.

Smith, too, questioned giving tax abatements to businesses.

Residents don't get them when they build a home or develop property, Smith said, so why should businesses?

Smith said he was motivated to run because Burkman was one of five council members who declined to place an anti-light rail initiative on the November ballot.

The 5-2 vote heeded advice of city attorneys, who said there were several problems with the proposed ordinance, such as going beyond the scope of initiative power.

The council's rejection led to a lawsuit. A court hearing has been set for July 30.

After watching council meetings, Smith said he felt councilors weren't asking the right questions before voting on issues. Even though details are hashed out during workshops with staff members before the issues are placed on a meeting agenda, Smith said more information should be included on the handouts for the public so they have a better understanding of what the council is doing and why. He also criticized the city's redesigned website as less user-friendly.

A third challenger, Guardado, said he'll step down as a Republican precinct committee officer if elected to the nonpartisan position,

He said his motivation to run for office stemmed from watching the council interact with the public during citizen forums.

Councilors appeared dismissive of residents' proposals, he said.

"Residents don't appreciate being ignored. They deserve better," Guardado said.

In order to attract businesses, Guardado favors following Clark County's model and eliminating or reducing development fees for several years. He proposes other tax holidays for businesses as well and streamlining the permitting process.

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

The Candidates

Jack Burkman

Age: 59.

Occupation: Retired mechanical engineer.

Notable endorsements: Evergreen Public Schools Superintendent John Deeder, former Vancouver Mayor Royce Pollard, philanthropist and businessman Ed Lynch.

Money raised: $8,695 (as of July 12).

Website: http://www.burkmanforcouncil.com

Micheline Doan

Age: 62.

Occupation: Retired pagination clerk for US West DEX.

Notable endorsements: State Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver, Republican County Commissioner Tom Mielke, State Rep. Liz Pike, R-Camas.

Money raised: $2,085 (as of July 9).

Website: http://www.votemichelinedoan.com

Otto Guardado

Age: 41.

Occupation: Financial adviser.

Notable endorsements: None listed.

Money raised: None (as of July 9).

Website: http://www.ottoguardado.com

Brian Joseph Smith

Age: 41.

Occupation: Communications engineer.

Notable endorsements: Former Republican legislative candidate Carolyn Crain.

Money raised: $500 (as of July 9).

Website: http://www.brianjosephsmith.us

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