Incumbent Vancouver councilor faces challenge

Doan tries to prevent Burkman from winning third term

By Stephanie Rice, Columbian Vancouver city government reporter

Published:

 

Vancouver City Council position 1

Jack Burkman

Age: 59

Occupation: Retired Hewlett-Packard engineering manager.

Notable endorsements: Former Mayor Royce Pollard; Evergreen Public Schools Superintendent John Deeder; Building Industry Association of Clark County; Clark County Association of Realtors; and Southwest Washington Central Labor Council.

Money raised: $21,215.

Website

Micheline Doan

Age: 62.

Occupation: Retired pagination clerk for US West DEX.

Notable endorsements: Former council candidates Brian Joseph Smith and Otto Guardado, and her husband, Mark.

Money raised: $6,543.

Website

Vancouver City Councilor Jack Burkman finished with 45 percent of the vote in the Aug. 6 primary. To earn his third term on the council, he'll have to beat Micheline Doan, who finished second with 21 percent of the vote.

Burkman has picked up hundreds of endorsements from individuals, including Evergreen Public Schools Superintendent John Deeder, and groups such as the Building Industry Association of Clark County.

Doan said her three most important endorsements are from Brian Joseph Smith and Otto Guardado, who finished third and fourth in the primary, respectively, and her husband, Mark, "because he will be the one who will be sharing me with the city council if I am elected," she wrote in response to questions from The Columbian.

Ballots for the Nov. 5 election will be mailed Wednesday.

Burkman was elected in 2009 after earlier serving on the council from 1998 to 2001. He said the city's biggest challenge continues to be that revenues haven't been keeping up with inflation. "We have to increase efficiency, but we have few options remaining after a decade of making extensive changes and reducing the number of employees," he wrote.

Since 2008, the city has cut staff positions by approximately 20 percent, and the 2013-14 biennial budget was down 12 percent from the 2009-10 budget of $857.3 million.

Doan, who ran an unsuccessful campaign for 17th District state representative in 2008, said she would like the city to hire more police officers so more will be on patrol on nights and weekends.

A majority of the city's general fund already pays for public safety.

Burkman said the city cannot cut police and fire any more, but he said the police department will have to go through the same re-engineering that the fire department has gone through to become more efficient. He said that process will begin after City Manager Eric Holmes hires a new police chief.

Doan, who opposes the Columbia River Crossing, said she would like the city to work with the Southwest Washington Regional Transportation Council to redirect its focus on surface street upgrades and repairs.

Asked if she believes the city currently offers what she would consider "nonessential services," Doan said the city offers housing through the Vancouver Housing Authority and she doesn't believe the government should be the landlord for the people. The VHA, however, is a separate agency from the city.

The city does, on a project-by-project basis, pass federal housing money through to the VHA as part of the Community Block Development Grants, Holmes said.

Doan also mentioned the Hilton Vancouver Washington as a project the city should not have been involved in.

Burkman didn't name any "nonessential" services.

"I represent 165,000 residents and where one person may see 'nonessential,' others see 'essential,'" Burkman wrote. "Overall, the city of Vancouver has become more efficient and made many cuts and changes to eliminate 'nonessential,' services."

Doan suggested the size of the city attorney's office may need to be cut.

"If our city requires a staffing level of one person per every 10,000 people living inside the city limits, then we are definitely doing something wrong," she wrote.

City Attorney Ted Gathe said the office has 16 attorneys, including himself.

Eight attorneys, including Gathe, are assigned to civil work. The other eight attorneys are tasked with criminal cases, as the city prosecutes misdemeanor crimes committed in city limits (5,400 misdemeanors were filed by the city in Clark County District Court last year), as well as infractions (5,000 were filed in District Court last year).

Three of the eight attorneys in the criminal unit are assigned to the Domestic Violence Prosecution Center, Gathe said. Under the joint operating agreement the city has with the county, those city attorneys can prosecute felony domestic violence crimes, Gathe said.

Gathe said his office has lost three attorneys to budget cuts.

Burkman said the "easy" cuts have all been made. "Cuts made now directly reduce service and residents are telling us they do not want further service reductions," he wrote.

Councilors typically meet four times a month to make policy decisions, such as setting spending priorities and approving the budget, while Holmes handles the day-to-day management of city government.

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