Realtors, firefighters endorse Leavitt for mayor

Groups also backing Burkman, Topper, McEnerny-Ogle

By Stephanie Rice, Columbian Vancouver city government reporter

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With a little more than one month until the Nov. 5 general election, two large organizations have made endorsements in Vancouver's mayoral and city council races.

The Vancouver Firefighters Union and the Clark County Association of Realtors endorsed the same slate: Mayor Tim Leavitt, Councilor Jack Burkman, challenger Alishia Topper, and Anne McEnerny-Ogle for the seat currently occupied by Jeanne Harris.

Harris was eliminated in the Aug. 6 primary.

Vancouver Firefighter Mark Johnston, president of the Vancouver Firefighters' Union IAFF Local 452, issued a news release Friday explaining why the union endorsed Leavitt over Councilor Bill Turlay.

The union previously voted to endorse Burkman over Micheline Doan, Topper over Councilor Jeanne Stewart and McEnerny-Ogle over Frank Decker.

"Mayor Leavitt has shown unwavering commitment to the mission of safeguarding the health and safety of the citizens of Vancouver and Fire District 5 through the provision of fire and emergency medical services provided by the Fire Department," Johnston said.

The city closed Station 6 on Dec. 31, 2010. The station reopened in November 2011, after the city accepted a $2.3 million federal grant to pay for 13 positions. The grant expires at the end of this year, and Clark County Fire District 5, which contracts with the city of Vancouver for fire services, agreed to pay for the 13 positions in 2014.

Money hasn't been identified to pay for the positions in 2015.

"Mayor Leavitt is in the forefront of crafting solutions to this problem. He is committed to putting the health and safety of community residents first," Johnston said. "The mayor is willing to support a change from a municipal to a fire district model of service provision if that change provides a long-term benefit to the citizens of Vancouver and Fire District 5."

In favoring Topper over Stewart, Judson McCauley, chairman of the firefighters' political action committee, praised Topper's commitment to public safety.

"Her commitment to working collaboratively with the rest of council on a solution to the budget shortfalls so often faced by both fire and police departments is resolute," McCauley said.

Likewise, Burkman and McEnerny-Ogle were lauded for their support of public safety, organized labor and keeping an open mind about funding solutions.

"She's a champion for the city, she's been involved in all sorts of causes," McCauley said of McEnerny-Ogle.

Johnston said Burkman recognizes the department's needs, including replacement of aging and outdated facilities.

Realtors speak out

The Clark County Association of Realtors has more than 1,300 members.

Leavitt, Burkman, Topper and McEnerny-Ogle "demonstrated to CCAR their understanding of what makes a community a successful, vibrant place to raise a family, retire and/or reside," Terry Eccles-Pettet said in a Friday news release. "These candidates understand that building community is larger than one single issue and that Vancouver is facing some significant, but not insurmountable, challenges. Changing the conversation and focusing on what works while remaining open to new ideas is the best way to move Vancouver forward," Eccles-Pettet said.

Ballots will be mailed Oct. 16.