Lentz says she's not likely to campaign

Re-election bid not in her plans if she's appointed to board

By Tyler Graf, Columbian county government reporter

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One of the three names interested in succeeding Commissioner Steve Stuart on the Clark County Board of Commissioners has told county Democrats she would likely not run a re-election campaign if appointed to the board.

Temple Lentz, a Democratic precinct committee officer and freeholder, made her position clear to party leaders Friday night.

"My reason for it is I very strongly feel there is a steep learning curve for the person appointed," she said. She added it would be difficult to run a campaign and at the same time defend the values she feels strongly about on the board.

Lentz said there was a possibility she would reconsider her position, which may affect her chances at being appointed. Mike Heywood, chairman of the Clark County Democrats, had said party leaders were looking to appoint someone interested in running a campaign for Stuart's seat. That election would happen this year, as the seat's term expires in January.

Lentz said she believes her strength would be "holding the line."

Meanwhile, the other two Democrats vying for Stuart's position on the board, former County Commissioner and state Senator Craig Pridemore and Kelly Love Parker, president and chief executive of the Greater Vancouver Chamber of Commerce, said they would be unlikely to run campaigns unless they were first appointed to the seat.

Whoever is appointed would replace Stuart, the board's lone Democrat, who will be stepping down next month to become Ridgefield's city manager. The two remaining commissioners, Republicans Tom Mielke and David Madore, will have 60 days from Stuart's departure to choose from the county Democrats' list of three candidates.

In January, Stuart announced he didn't plan to run for re-election, following a 10-year stint on the board. He cited a high level of political acrimony on the county commission board as the reason for his choosing to step out of politics.

Then, in February, Ridgefield named him one of three finalists for the city manager position.

Friday's meeting was an opportunity for party leadership to ask the candidates questions. They will reconvene March 28 to vote on how to rank them. That information will then go to Mielke and Madore. If the commissioners don't make a decision within 60 days, Gov. Jay Inslee will be tasked with making it.

Lentz said Friday she believed Pridemore was the most qualified person for the appointment, and she would throw her support behind him if he ran a campaign.