Press Talk: A larger issue in the mayor's race?

By Lou Brancaccio, Columbian editor

Published:

 

It has almost everything.

Drama, intrigue, importance, consequences — you name it.

Of course I’m talking about the Vancouver mayor’s race, pitting a young, vibrant Mayor Tim Leavitt against an old, vibrant City Councilor Bill Turlay.

(Age doesn’t mean anything to me. Being vibrant does.)

But is there more to this race than meets the eye?

I say yes.

I thought about this when I was hanging out at the KATU-TV studios Thursday night doing a short interview on the mayoral race.

KATU anchor Steve Dunn hosts a 30-minute “Your Voice, Your Vote” show that airs Sunday mornings at 9 a.m.

I take up the last five minutes of this week’s show talking with Steve — a bright, personable, fun guy. The first 25 minutes of the show deal with Initiative 522. That’s the one that concerns labeling of genetically engineered foods.

Hey, wait a second. Twenty-five minutes for them? Five minutes for me? What the ... (Just kidding.)

But I digress.

So what is the larger issue in the mayor’s race? Well, Turlay will tell you the larger issue is Leavitt’s flip-flop on tolling a new CRC bridge. First he was against it. That, many say, got him elected mayor. Then Leavitt was for it.

It’s an integrity issue, Turlay says. If that’s not enough, supporting tolls for a new bridge does not make you Mr. Popular in the eyes of many.

Fair enough.

But for me, the larger issue is this epic battle going on between Leavitt and County Commissioner David Madore.

As noted in a column a few weeks ago ...

“Madore and Leavitt are archenemies. One is Superman. the other is Alexander Joseph ‘Lex’ Luthor. You decide which is which.”

Now, Madore has spent enormous political capital supporting Turlay. The always-smiling Madore would somehow find a way to smile even broader if Turlay were to whup Leavitt.

What does all this mean? This really is a race between Leavitt and Madore. And it’s a race to secure the hearts and minds of folks around here.

If Turlay wins, it will signal that we like what Madore has been doing over at the county administration building, and you can pretty much guarantee the Madore way will grow bolder.

If Leavitt wins, it will signal that we’re growing tired of where Madore is leading this county.

I know, I know, some folks will not like this larger point. And to be sure, there are some places where Turlay and Madore don’t agree.

But Turlay will be the first to tell you he mostly is in line with how Madore thinks.

For me, I like both Leavitt and Turlay. I believe Turlay plays an important role on the city council. We don’t need a council that thinks alike on all the issues.

I do feel hitching your wagon to Madore’s could be problematic.

We ran an unscientific poll this week asking how folks think the county government has been run the last six months. And it’s no secret that since Madore has been driving the county decisions for the last six months, the poll results could be a reflection on how he is doing.

Those results do not look good for Madore.

About 21 percent said they thought things were getting better at the county. Just under 70 percent thought things were getting worse, with a whopping 60 percent saying things were getting much worse.

Leavitt’s got the tolling and integrity issue. Turlay has Madore.

Let’s see how this plays out.

Lou on KATU