Clark County’s board of freeholders are made up of 15 nonpartisan positions. But with 11 of the current vote leaders either current or former elected officials, it appears that party politics played some role in the election.
Republican Clark County Commissioner Tom Mielke, who initiated the freeholder election process, originally stated that he’d like to see a partisan race, as it allows voters to easily identify candidate’s ideals.
The commissioners eventually agreed to nonpartisan positions for the sake of simplicity in conducting an election.
But with so many sitting and current elected officials on the board, and based on answers from a candidate questionnaire sent to candidates by The Columbian, it appears Republicans will have a majority on the board.
In District 1, known as a conservative region and represented by Mielke, voters elected Republican Clark County Sheriff Garry Lucas; state Sen. Ann Rivers, R-La Center; former state Sen. Joseph Zarelli, R-Ridgefield, as freeholders by comfortable margins.
The remaining two elections in District 1 still remain too close to call. After Wednesday’s count of ballots, Peter Silliman had passed Tuesday night leader Chris Lockwood in Position 4. Silliman is a former Republican candidate for the legislative seat now held by state Rep. Brandon Vick, R-Vancouver. Silliman answered in the questionnaire that he is a Republican.
In the same questionnaire, Lockwood said he considers himself to be nonpartisan.
In Position 5, Randy Mueller kept a slim lead over Patricia Reyes after Wednesday’s count. Both Mueller and Reyes stated in the questionnaire that they have no party affiliation.
In District 2, considered a swing district and represented by Commissioner David Madore, voters elected state Rep. Liz Pike, R-Camas, and former Republican Clark County Commissioner Marc Boldt to the board of freeholders.
They also elected former Camas mayors Nan Henriksen and Paul Dennis.
Henricksen said in her questionnaire, “I am an independent who currently identifies with more Democratic candidates. I was a moderate Republican for many years.”
Dennis answered that he is nonpartisan.
Also elected in the district is Tracy Wilson, who did not answer the questionnaire, but is the husband of current Clark County Republican Chairwoman Lynda Wilson.
In District 3, known as a liberal area and represented by Clark County Commissioner Steve Stuart, a Democrat, voters elected former state Rep. Val Ogden, D-Vancouver, and state Rep. Jim Moeller, D-Vancouver, as freeholders.
Former Vancouver City Councilor Pat Jollota also won a seat. Jollota said she has no party affiliation in the questionnaire.
Also elected in District 3 are Temple Lentz and Jim Mains.
Lentz answered, “I am a Democrat. I also feel, very strongly, that good government and a strong charter are nonpartisan issues and should be treated as such — from both sides of the aisle.”
Mains stated in his answer that the freeholder position is nonpartisan.