Galina Burley is showcasing a life story filled with the rewards of hard work. She immigrated to America with her parents (who had $50 in their pockets) in 1991, then steadily rose to the academic heights of a master's degree in Public Administration from Troy University, and now to the civic heights of her candidacy for Vancouver City Council.
Anne McEnerny-Ogle knows Vancouver neighborhoods better than perhaps anyone. As chair of the Vancouver Neighborhood Alliance, she has met with 43 different neighborhood associations in the past three years. Now she's running for Vancouver City Council — and doing a fine job of it — after falling short of that goal in 2011 by a narrow margin in the primary.
Our recommendations for this Position 3 council race are Burley and McEnerny-Ogle, in that order, to advance beyond the Aug. 6 primary and into the Nov. 5 general election. Ballots in Clark County are being mailed today. The Columbian will narrow its endorsement to a single candidate prior to the fall election.
Incumbent Jeanne Harris has yet to regain much political traction since her infamous "Gavel down!" meltdown at the Sept. 13, 2010, council meeting. To her credit, Harris has repeatedly apologized for the tantrum, and she has shown appropriate contrition. But the damage remains too deep, the baggage of lingering indignity too heavy. And more importantly, Burley and McEnerny-Ogle have demonstrated the coalition-building skills that are needed on the council. Burley works as human services manager for Clackamas County, Ore. McEnerny-Ogle is a retired teacher and one of the busiest civic activists in the community.
Two other candidates — Frank Decker and Adam Fox — are having a hard time keeping pace with Burley and McEnerny-Ogle in the campaign. When the subject of contentious city-county relations came up at a meeting with The Columbian's editorial board, Decker was the lone candidate in the room who did not roundly criticize the appointment of Don Benton to county environmental services director. "I believe we should hire experts, but I don't know if (Benton's appointment) was right or wrong," he said. Fox has remained missing in action, for the most part, on the campaign trail and has yet to mount any meaningful outreach to voters.
Burley has been active in programs that encourage ethnic inclusion in communities. Her contributions transcend that arena, though, to include crime prevention, coordinating hundreds of volunteers for neighborhood- and business-watch groups, developing emergency transportation plans and promoting public transit programs.
McEnerny-Ogle, with five years' experience on the Vancouver Planning Commission, understands key growth issues that come before the council. She has worked with dozens of civic clubs, transportation organizations, environmental groups and youth programs. Both Burley and McEnerny-Ogle list job creation among their top priorities. Burley intends to streamline city operations by promoting LEAN management policies and use the efficiencies to enhance public safety while preserving parks. McEnerny-Ogle has experience writing community development block grants and believes environmental concerns and business development can thrive together.
The Columbian publishes endorsements — opinions, nothing more — in major local primary races with more than two candidates. Recommendations in other races will appear later this year.