UPDATE: On a whim, Turlay runs against Mayor Leavitt

By Stephanie Rice, Columbian Vancouver city government reporter

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After months of rumors about who might run against Vancouver Mayor Tim Leavitt, a last-minute challenger came as a surprise Friday afternoon — even to himself.

Vancouver City Councilor Bill Turlay said he hadn’t planned on running against Leavitt, but he stopped by the Clark County Elections Office shortly before the 5 p.m. deadline to see who had filed. He saw Councilor Jeanne Stewart, the other member of the council who shares his opposition to the Columbia River Crossing and one of the people rumored to be mulling a run against Leavitt.

But Stewart was filing to run for her own seat.

“I said, ‘Who has filed against the mayor?’ and no one had,” Turlay said Friday. “So I went ahead and filed, and we’ll start a campaign.”

“It just seemed like somebody should be running, that’s all,” said Turlay, 77, who was elected to the council in 2011. “I believe people should have choices.”

Unlike Stewart, who faced the possibility of losing her spot on the city council if she had challenged Leavitt and lost, Turlay has nothing to lose because his term doesn’t expire until 2015.

Turlay said he and Leavitt have similar economic goals for the city, even if they have different ideas about the best way to reach them.

“I like the mayor,” said Turlay, a Navy veteran and small-business owner. “We get along. It’s nothing personal.”

Leavitt, a 42-year-old engineer at PBS Environmental + Engineering, confirmed in February he would be seeking a second term as mayor.

“It’s an honor to serve as mayor of the community I grew up in,” Leavitt said Friday. “We’ve made great strides over the past three-plus years, for which I am proud of, and I’m looking forward to the next four years of great progress for our awesome city.”

Stewart received three challengers, as did Jack Burkman.

Jeanne Harris, the other member of the council up for re-election, received four challengers.

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

City councilors set policy while City Manager Eric Holmes handles the daily responsibilities of running the state’s fourth largest city.

Councilors currently earn $21,372 a year and the mayor earns $26,624 a year. All members of the council receive health benefits.

Stewart will be running against Alishia Topper, senior director of development for the Fort Vancouver National Trust; Ty Stober, an initiative manager for the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance; and Jerome Nye.

Harris was challenged by Anne McEnerny-Ogle, chairwoman of the Vancouver Neighborhood Alliance; Galina Burley, a human services manager for Clackamas County, Ore.,; Frank Decker, executive supervisor of Instructional Technology & Assessment for the Centennial School District in Gresham; and Adam Fox.

Burkman’s opponents are financial advisor Otto Guardado, MichelineDoan and Brian Joseph Smith.

In addition to Turlay and Stewart, others who waited until late Friday afternoon to file for office were Smith, Doan, Fox and Nye.

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