In Our View: Burkman is Top Choice

Incumbent Vancouver city councilor presents impressive record of service

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When Jack Burkman says, "I love Vancouver and I am honored to serve on the City Council," the sincerity in his voice is undeniable. And as he devotes countless hours to researching issues, listening to constituents and respectfully deliberating with his council colleagues, Burkman's assets as a public servant are clearly defined.In the Aug. 6 primary race for Vancouver City Council, Position 1, incumbent Burkman clearly is the best choice over three challengers with lackluster records of public service. Ballots will be mailed Wednesday.

The Columbian typically announces endorsements in major local primary races when more than two challengers are involved. In other races, we wait until the general election, which this year will be Nov. 5 with ballots mailed on Oct. 16. Two other Vancouver City Council endorsements will be published on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Remember, endorsements are opinions, nothing more. We believe voters are perfectly capable of making up their own minds, and our recommendations are designed to stimulate discussions.

Often in endorsements for primaries we recommend two choices, with a final recommendation announced later for the fall election. But in Burkman's case, there is only one clear choice, with no challenger presenting a compelling argument for replacing the incumbent. None of his foes -- Otto Guardado, Brian Joseph Smith or Micheline Doan -- has generated any support base of meaningful size, while Burkman has accumulated hundreds of bipartisan supporters ranging from prominent local leaders to ordinary citizens.

In this nonpartisan race, Micheline Doan, a local Republican Party activist, is the only challenger with campaign experience. She gathered 38.6 percent of the votes in a 2008 loss to Deb Wallace for state representative.

Burkman has served on the council since 2009 (he also served on the council several years earlier) and has become a council authority on several issues. One prominent example is technology; the former high-tech executive has helped push the council and other city departments into the digital age, using devices and strategies in ways that benefit taxpayers with both savings and enhanced transparency. Several major employers have moved to Vancouver in recent years as Burkman has vigorously promoted economic development efforts.

Burkman serves the community he loves in many other ways, most notably as a Clark College trustee but also on numerous local boards.

Guardado discussed with The Columbian's editorial board the fact that he is making a first run for elected office while working as a financial adviser, with a family that includes six children. Nothing wrong with that, in our opinion. Diversity of backgrounds is good for a city council. But when we asked how he intends to balance the demands of public service with a full-time job and a large family, his answer reflected a glaring lack of preparation: "I don't know. I have no clear answer to that question."

Smith has a broad understanding of city council issues, but demonstrates few coalition-building skills and has a sparse record of public involvement. He cannot come close to matching Burkman's record of service to the community.

In an endorsement editorial four years ago, we described Burkman as "collegial, confident, positive, visionary, informed and well-prepared." Those characteristics are even more vivid today as he steps forward to seek a well-deserved re-election to Vancouver City Council.