Clark County Democrats have selected Craig Pridemore as their top candidate to succeed Steve Stuart on the Board of Clark County Commissioners.
Pridemore, who was nominated by the outbound Stuart, announced that he would run for commissioner in the November election, whether he wins appointment to the post or not.
The former commissioner and state senator was voted the top choice of Democratic precinct officers in a Friday night meeting at the Teamster’s Hall, 2212 N.E. Andresen Road, in Vancouver. Kelly Love Parker, president of the Greater Vancouver Chamber of Commerce, was the group’s second choice. Retired labor leader Ed Barnes was selected over blogger and liberal activist Temple Lentz for the third position.
That decision will be formalized in a letter to the two remaining commissioners, Republicans Tom Mielke and David Madore, who will make an appointment from the Democrats’ list of three candidates.
Stuart, the board’s lone Democrat, will be stepping down by April 14 to become Ridgefield city manager. At Friday’s meeting, he said he hadn’t yet submitted his official resignation but planned to do so.
Clark County Democrats learned Friday that the Washington Constitution trumps state statute, which means Mielke and Madore will have 60 days after Stuart’s resignation, not five, to make their decision. If they do not choose within the appropriate time frame, Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee would fill the slot.
In January, Stuart announced he didn’t plan to run for reelection, following 10 years on the board. He chose to step out of politics after experiencing what he called a high level of political acrimony on the county commission board.
Stuart nominated Pridemore for the commissioner appointment and backed him as an election candidate.
“The citizens will have their say in November,” Stuart said.
Lentz also backed Pridemore as the party’s top candidate. The commissioners will appoint someone based on their own criteria, Lentz said. So, she said, the Clark County Democrats had use an offensive strategy and make their picks known.
“I am thrilled that he stepped up and said he would run whether he gets the appointment or not,” Lentz said. She previously announced that she did not plan to run in the November election.
Barnes and Love Parker followed suit, backing Pridemore.
“I see new energy in this room and I’m excited about it,” Love Parker said. “We have a leader. We have a candidate.”
Pridemore said there wasn’t any way to play Madore and Mielke. He decided if he wanted to run, he had to start his campaign now, before the filing deadline. He acknowledged that he has a tough campaign ahead of him.
Before the meeting he passed out Columbian editorial articles about his campaign for commissioner in 1998. He was a commissioner for six years before he went onto the state Senate.