Timeline for commissioner appointment pushed back

Two of the candidates told interviews won't start until after filing deadline

By Tyler Graf, Columbian county government reporter

Published:

 

It appears the appointment of a new Clark County commissioner will be pushed past the filing deadline for local candidates.

The board’s two Republican commissioners, Tom Mielke and David Madore, had discussed appointing a third, Democratic commissioner to the vacant District 3 position as early as next week. That timeline, however, won’t happen, say two of the candidates.

On Monday, Kelly Love Parker and Craig Pridemore said county officials told them that, because of scheduling conflicts, candidates wouldn’t be interviewed until later in the month. May 12 was the date candidates were given last week.

Love Parker said she was disappointed that District 3 constituents would go longer without representation on the board.

“I understand they’re busy men,” Love Parker said of the commissioners, “but we’re all busy.”

Pridemore agreed, saying he’d prefer commissioners conduct candidate interviews and make an appointment next week. The filing period for local candidates opens the morning of May 12 and closes the evening of May 16.

Axel Swanson, the county’s senior policy analyst, said the county hadn’t “finalized a date for interviews,” but the final schedule could be hashed out today.

The person Mielke and Madore appoint will replace Steve Stuart, the former District 3 commissioner and a Democrat, who resigned in April.

The Clark County Democratic Central Committee sent the commissioners a list of three appointment candidates on Stuart’s last day in office, April 11, setting in motion a 60-day appointment deadline, which expires in June. The three names on the Democrats’ list are Pridemore, a former county commissioner and state legislator, Ed Barnes, a former labor leader, and Love Parker, the executive director of the Greater Vancouver Chamber of Commerce.

Pridemore is the only appointment candidate who said he would run an election campaign for Stuart’s seat, whether he’s appointed or not. The term for the District 3 seat expires at the end of the year.

Pridemore is also the Democrats’ top pick for the position and has the backing of both Love Parker and Barnes. That much was made clear in a letter the Democrats sent commissioners last month.

“We call on you to respect the wishes of the Democratic Party to appoint Craig Pridemore, the top ranked choice of the Democratic Precinct Committee Officers of Clark County,” wrote D. Michael Heywood, chairman of the Clark County Democratic Central Committee, in an April 11 letter to the commissioners.

Love Parker on Tuesday again threw her support behind Pridemore, saying he was “far and away the best choice.”

“I’m here because the law requires we have three names on the ballot,” she said. “This isn’t about jousting for a job.”

The commissioners, meanwhile, say they want to conduct a thorough vetting of the candidates.

Since Stuart’s departure, both commissioners have had to be present for board meetings to commence. That posed a problem at the end of April, when a death in Mielke’s family sent him out of town for the week and halted board business, and is expected to do so again.

Madore also plans to be absent for the board time meeting Wednesday, meaning there will be no quorum for that meeting.