CRC among topics for Saturday town halls

Three events will feature a total of eight legislators

By Stevie Mathieu, Columbian assistant metro editor

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As Clark County's legislators gear up to fight for or against the Columbia River Crossing project, they want to hear from their constituents.

Eight legislators from Clark County are participating in town halls on Saturday, and at least two of those town halls will focus on the CRC project.

The town hall hosted by state lawmakers from the 49th Legislative District, titled "Let's Talk about the CRC," will feature two panel discussions with CRC co-directors Nancy Boyd and Kris Strickler, and other project supporters, including Identity Clark County President Paul Montague and Greater Vancouver Chamber of Commerce President Kelly Parker.

That meeting takes place 10 a.m. to noon at Educational Service District 112 building, 2500 N.E. 65th Ave. Sen. Annette Cleveland, D-Vancouver, and Reps. Jim Moeller, D-Vancouver and Sharon Wylie, D-Vancouver, also will be available to answer any questions about the CRC or the legislative session in general.

Later that day across town, Republicans from the 17th District will host their own town hall to talk about the legislative session and discuss "hot-button issues such as the Columbia River Crossing," Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver, said in a statement announcing the event.

He will be joined by Rep. Paul Harris, R-Vancouver. Their town hall takes place 6 p.m. at the Firstenburg Community Center, 700 N.E. 136th Ave., in Vancouver.

"We have significant decisions to make regarding our transportation system, funding education, government reforms and certainly the budget," Harris said in the same announcement.

Benton, Harris and other Republicans from Clark County have been vocal about wanting a new bridge over the Columbia River that excludes light rail, and that includes more clearance for river traffic than the proposed 116-foot-high CRC span allows. Meanwhile, Cleveland, Moeller and Wylie have been working this session to try to secure the state's share of the project costs.

CRC supporters say that Oregon and Washington lawmakers need to commit a significant portion of their CRC contributions this year in order for the project to stay on track. They also say extending light rail from Portland to Vancouver on the new bridge is essential to the project receiving federal money.

Those living in the 18th Legislative District have the option of attending two town hall meetings on Saturday with Sen. Ann Rivers, R-La Center, and Reps. Liz Pike, R-Camas, and Brandon Vick, R-Vancouver. The first of those two meetings takes place at 10 a.m. at Battle Ground City Hall, 109 S.W. First St. The second meeting takes place at 2 p.m. at Camas High School, 26900 S.E. 15th St. Each meeting is expected to last at least one hour.

"Here at the halfway point in the session, it's an ideal time to share both the good bills we need to pass the bad bills we need to stop," Pike said in a statement announcing the town hall meetings.

The 105-day legislative session is scheduled to conclude on April 28.

Rather than host a town hall on Saturday, 17th District Rep. Monica Stonier, D-Vancouver, will conduct a conference call with constituents from 6 to 7 p.m. March 27. To participate, call 877-229-8493 and enter the code 18646.