Vancouver City Council has new faces on C-Tran board

Leavitt stays; Burkman, McEnerny-Ogle will replace Hansen, Smith

By Stephanie Rice, Columbian Vancouver city government reporter

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The Vancouver City Council will have a new delegation this year on the C-Tran Board of Directors, arguably the highest-profile assignment councilors can receive.

Mayor Tim Leavitt announced board and committee assignments Monday, the council's first meeting of 2014 and the first for its two new members.

Leavitt will keep his seat on the C-Tran board. He'll be joined by Councilors Jack Burkman and Anne McEnerny-Ogle, who will replace Councilors Bart Hansen and Larry Smith.

Smith will be an alternate.

Leavitt said the assignments had been discussed in the past two weeks and there were no hard feelings.

Hansen said he wanted to spend more time on safety and social services. His assignments include serving on the executive boards at the Arthur D. Curtis Children's Justice Center and the Elder Justice Center as well on the Safe Communities Task Force.

The council sends one or more delegates to 18 different boards and committees.

After Monday's meeting Leavitt said he tries to balance the assignments. Some, such as C-Tran, take additional time to properly prepare for meetings because of the complexity of the issues involved.

"Both Larry and Bart have served very well on C-Tran," Leavitt said, and were willing to let other councilors have the experience.

Some groups — ever hear of the Lodging Tax Advisory Committee? — rarely make the news, but the C-Tran Board of Directors has made headlines thanks to the controversial Columbia River Crossing project, plans for bus rapid transit and board members' infighting. Whether the composition of the board should change will likely be decided this year, pending a judge's ruling on what would happen to the current veto power held by both Vancouver and Clark County.

The C-Tran board now has nine voting members: three Vancouver City Council representatives, three Clark County commissioners, and three seats shared in pairs by Camas-Washougal, La Center-Ridgefield and Battle Ground-Yacolt. The board also includes a nonvoting labor representative. Representatives from the small cities want more seats, but Vancouver has made it clear it doesn't want to give up a seat or its veto power.

Vancouver accounts for almost 60 percent of the agency's sales tax revenue, and more than 80 percent of its ridership.

Leavitt said the fact McEnerny-Ogle and Burkman are joining him on the board won't change support for bus rapid transit along Vancouver's Fourth Plain corridor.

"Council members understand that we are there as ambassadors and will duly represent the body," Leavitt said.

Councilor Bill Turlay, the only member of the board opposed to the CRC, was assigned to firefighter and police pension boards and the Clark County Solid Waste Advisory Commission.

Before the meeting, Leavitt was sworn in for his second mayoral term by Superior Court Judge James Rulli. Burkman, who won his third term in November, was sworn in to office by Vancouver City Attorney Ted Gathe.

Gathe also administered the oaths of office to newcomers McEnerny-Ogle and Alishia Topper, who had previously also taken the oaths at ceremonies with supporters.