Five contend for Harris' seat on Vancouver City Council

By Stephanie Rice, Columbian Vancouver city government reporter



Vancouver City Council Position 3 candidates

Galina Burley

Age: 37.

Occupation: Human services manager, Clackamas County, Ore.

Notable endorsements: Former Vancouver Mayor Royce Pollard, former Clark County GOP chairman Mike Gaston, former Democratic Party chairman Dan Ogden.

Money raised: $9,486.

Frank Decker

Age: 46.

Occupation: Executive supervisor of instructional technology and assessment, Centennial School District, Gresham, Ore.

Notable endorsements: Clark County Commissioner David Madore, state Rep. Liz Pike, R-Camas, and State Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver.

Money raised: $7,139.

Adam Fox

Age: 29.

Occupation: Delivery truck driver, anthropology student at Washington State University Vancouver.

Notable endorsements: None listed.

Money raised: None.

Jeanne Harris

Age: 57.

Occupation: Owner, C3 Consulting.

Notable endorsements: None listed.

Money raised: None.

Anne McEnerny-Ogle

Age: 59.

Occupation: Retired math teacher.

Notable endorsements: Sharif Burdzik of Riverview Community Bank, Tom Hunt of Hunt Communication, former Clark County Commissioner Betty Sue Morris.

Money raised: $8,841.

The most crowded Vancouver City Council race has Jeanne Harris, the senior member of the council, facing four opponents in her bid for a fifth term.

She called the clashes among councilors -- intensified during talks about the controversial Columbia River Crossing -- normal and healthy, but acknowledged that she's finishing what has been her toughest term.

"It's a tough council to be on," she said. "It's very political. You have to be willing to get under the net and throw your elbows."

The 2010 video clip of her yelling at Mayor Tim Leavitt to "gavel down" an anti-CRC 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.

With the plug pulled on the CRC, Harris said, she's ready to move on to figuring out how to best deliver public services in the face of budget cuts. She said she's just getting her campaign started.

Like her opponents, she also wants to work on marketing the city to attract businesses that will pay family-wage jobs.

"I've had sixteen strong years of service," Harris said. "One day does not make a career."

Opponent Frank Decker, whose endorsements include Clark County Commissioner David Madore, said one reason he decided to run against Harris was her demeanor at meetings.

"There needs to be a certain level of dignity," Decker said. He said he reached a point that he decided, instead of complaining about public officials, he could run for office.

Decker wants to see if the city can ease up on business regulations and examine current zoning regulations so it's not just "retail, retail, retail."

"I'm just thinking there needs to be a balanced approach," Decker said.

Decker and challenger Anne McEnerny-Ogle both said they would like the Vancouver Police Department's east precinct re-opened to the public because some crime victims don't feel comfortable filling out a police report online.

"That face-to-face reporting is so important," McEnerny-Ogle said. She suggested City Manager Eric Holmes cut his staff -- questioning whether the city needs a spokesperson, for example -- to have more money available for the police department.

However, Harris said it doesn't make sense to spend money staffing the east precinct when that money could go toward putting an officer on the street.

While Decker, Galina Burley and Adam Fox are making their first bids for public office, McEnerny-Ogle ran for council in 2009 and 2011.

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

McEnerny-Ogle, a Neighbors on Watch volunteer who would like to see that program expanded, has a long record of civic work. She spent five years on the city's planning commission and currently serves as chairwoman of the Vancouver Neighborhood Alliance and president of the League of Women Voters of Clark County.

Burley works for Clackamas County, Ore., and said she understands how to manage resources on a budget, including securing sustainable grants and using a return on investment formula.

"I know our community doesn't want new taxes, and we have to listen to them," Burley said.

She named finding maintenance money for city streets among her priorities.

"It's going to be a challenge," she said. "That's as basic as it gets, to make sure our roads are drivable. I don't have a silver-bullet solution."

Fox said last week he decided to run for council after seeing a Craigslist ad that said, in part, that Vancouver has "a serious shortage of truly competent and ethical leaders. Such leaders are typically busy people and are highly reluctant to endure the heavy strain of the campaign process. That includes being misrepresented by the opposition and a biased media."

Fox, who said he does not plan to raise money for the campaign, said that if elected he will give up half of his salary.

"I'm really in this to try and learn as much as I can," said Fox.

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

Stephanie Rice: 360-735-4508 or