Vancouver Mayor Tim Leavitt’s biggest regions of support in the 2013 general election were in western and southern Vancouver, while his unsuccessful challenger, Vancouver City Councilman Bill Turlay, pulled stronger election numbers in the city’s northeast region.
Last fall’s three Vancouver city council races followed a similar pattern, with the winners drawing most of their support from Vancouver’s west, central and Columbia River waterfront areas, according to a Columbian analysis of precinct-by-precinct data from the Clark County Elections Department.
Charting the 2013 local election results on a map helps tell a story about the political differences across Clark County, from whom Vancouver voters value as a mayor to how county residents feel about public transit, fireworks and genetically modified foods.
In Vancouver, Leavitt gained a majority of support in 42 voter precincts, while Turlay picked up 35. Citywide, 52.5 percent of voters approved Leavitt for a second term.
Turlay was better-liked in suburban areas such as east Vancouver’s Burnt Bridge Creek, North Image and Fircrest neighborhoods. He also did well in the precinct surrounding Vancouver Lake, and in the West Minnehaha neighborhood, which is just east of Interstate 5 and north of state Highway 500.
Meanwhile, Leavitt picked up nearly every precinct in the affluent neighborhoods along the Columbia River. Besides gaining more support in west Vancouver, he also got a majority of votes in Vancouver’s Bennington and Fisher’s Landing East neighborhoods, located east of Interstate 205.
Although the city council and mayoral races were nonpartisan, the county’s Democratic and Republican parties made endorsements in most Vancouver city council and mayoral races.
The Clark County Democratic Party endorsed Leavitt for mayor, and Anne McEnerny-Ogle and Alishia Topper for Vancouver city council seats. Incumbent Jack Burkman asked that he not be endorsed by Democrats, expressing concerns about violating the spirit of nonpartisan elections.
The Clark County GOP endorsed Turlay for mayor; McEnerny-Ogle’s opponent, Frank Decker; Topper’s opponent, Jeanne Stewart; and Burkman’s opponent, Micheline Doan.
In the end, Topper, McEnerny-Ogle and Burkman won, and they saw support in roughly the same regions as Leavitt. Council newcomers Topper and McEnerny-Ogle were favored more widely across Vancouver than Leavitt, however.
Topper earned a majority in 48 of the city’s 78 voter precincts, while McEnerny-Ogle was favored in 60 precincts. Burkman’s region of support was smaller and more concentrated. He held a majority in just 39 of the city’s voter precincts.
A majority of the county’s 228 voter precincts supported Clark County’s nonbinding advisory votes on light rail, bus rapid transit and fireworks.
Perhaps not surprisingly, precincts in more populated areas appeared to support Clark County’s Advisory Vote 6, meaning they favored the idea of limiting the sale and use of fireworks in unincorporated parts of the county. Many rural areas said no on that measure.
A large majority of the county’s precincts, especially in suburban and rural areas, said they want to take another countywide advisory vote before county commissioners, who sit on the C-Tran board, help decide the fate of light rail or bus rapid transit projects.
Clark County Commissioner David Madore said the overwhelming yes votes on the light rail and bus rapid transit measures show that county residents oppose such projects.
“It turns out that nearly the whole county voted against light rail, (and) voted against Bus Rapid Transit,” Madore, a Republican, wrote on this Facebook page in November.
Madore asked county employees to map the results of the advisory vote on light rail. He posted the map on his Facebook page, noting support for the measure in nearly all regions of the county. “It doesn’t get much more dramatic than this,” he wrote.
Clark County Commissioner Steve Stuart, meanwhile, is taking a different approach when it comes to studying the 2013 advisory votes.
“I am taking great care not to expansively interpret the advisory votes,” Stuart, a Democrat, said. “I’m taking them at face value.”
County officials are expected to discuss the advisory votes and what they mean at an upcoming public meeting.
Most parts of Clark County voted against Initiative 522, which would have required labels on some genetically modified foods, or GMOs. Statewide, the measure lost, but it saw the greatest support in King and Jefferson counties.
Just 24 of Clark County’s 228 precincts favored I-522, and only two of those precincts, located in west Vancouver’s Hough and Carter Park neighborhoods, saw more than 60 percent of voters saying yes to the measure.