New face for Vancouver Council either way

McEnerny-Ogle, Decker in running for long-held seat

By Stephanie Rice, Columbian Vancouver city government reporter



Vancouver council candidates

Frank Decker

Age: 46

Occupation: Executive supervisor of instructional technology and assessment for the Centennial School District in Gresham, Ore.

Notable endorsements: Clark County Commissioners David Madore and Tom Mielke, State Sen. Ann Rivers, State Sen. Don Benton and Rep. Liz Pike.

Money raised: $19,067.


Anne McEnerny-Ogle

Age: 60

Occupation: Retired math teacher.

Notable endorsements: Vancouver Police Officers Guild, IAFF Local 452 (Vancouver firefighters), Building Industry Association of Clark County, Southwest Washington Central Labor Council and Clark County Association of Realtors.

Money raised: $19,201.


No matter what else happens Nov. 5, at least one new face will be on the Vancouver City Council in January.

In the August primary for council Position 3, Anne McEnerny-Ogle and Frank Decker finished ahead of Councilor Jeanne Harris, who has served the city for 16 years.

McEnerny-Ogle, chairwoman of the Vancouver Neighborhood Alliance and president of the League of Women Voters of Clark County, finished first in the primary with 35 percent of the vote. Decker, a precinct committee officer for the Clark County Republican Party, came in second with 23 percent of the vote.

Along with Harris, candidates Galina Burley and Adam Fox were eliminated in the Aug. 6 primary, which had a dismal voter turnout of approximately 16 percent.

Ballots are scheduled to be mailed Wednesday.

The nonpartisan race marks the first run for office for Decker, while McEnerny-Ogle ran for council in 2009 and 2011.

A Neighbors on Watch volunteer who spent five years on the city's planning commission, McEnerny-Ogle said the city has prioritized expenses, but she still would like to explore possible cuts, such as reducing the number of staff in the city manager's office from 15 to 10.

She feels the time has come to start a community discussion about additional potential revenue sources, such as the entertainment tax that was broached when the city had a chance to land a minor-league baseball team. She suggests creating a community advisory team, similar to the one that helped compile the city's transportation improvement projects, with representatives from several civic, environmental, business and community interests.

The group could recommend to the council critical needs and potential funding mechanisms to pay for those needs, she said. The city council will be discussing long-term transportation needs next month, including how those needs should be financed. McEnerny-Ogle would like to ask voters whether they want to form a transportation benefit district, as money for roads currently comes from the general fund, the same pot of money that pays for police, fire and other core services.

She believes the city is "slowly" moving in the right direction.

Decker, meanwhile, wants the city to reverse course on the Columbia River Crossing, as he does not believe the city has the population density to support light rail. He said he doesn't support replacing the Interstate 5 bridge until Oregon fixes congestion between Jantzen Beach and the Rose Quarter. He would like to explore the feasibility of additional crossings, both west of the I-5 bridge and east of the Interstate 205 bridge.

Decker also criticized the decision to build the Hilton Vancouver Washington.

The Vancouver Downtown Redevelopment Authority, the legal entity that oversees the city-owned Hilton, took out $65 million in bonds in 2003 for the hotel and convention center. The council approved refinancing the bonds this year, which will save an estimated $15 million over the life of the bonds. The savings will be used for capital repairs and replacements, which are needed to meet Hilton standards.

The city should not be in the hotel or parking garage business, Decker said. Its focus should be on police and fire services and parks and roads maintenance.

The city will be appointing a charter review committee next year; any changes to the city charter would have to be approved by voters. Decker would like to see the city divided into seven equal voting districts. That way, councilors could focus on a smaller segment of the city, he said. Currently, the seats are at-large.

Councilors currently earn $21,372 and typically meet four times a month to make policy decisions, such as setting spending priorities and approving the budget and purchases. City Manager Eric Holmes is responsible for the day-to-day operations of city government.