Jeanne Stewart announces bid for county commissioner

After 12 years as nonpartisan Vancouver councilor, she aligns with GOP

By Emily Gillespie and Tyler Graf

Published:

Updated: May 9, 2014, 6:06 PM

 

Jeanne Stewart, a former Vancouver city councilwoman, announced Friday that she intends to run for the vacant District 3 seat on the Clark County Board of Commissioners.

In a letter to Kenny Smith, chairman of the Clark County Republican Party, Stewart wrote that she’d file paperwork to run during next week’s campaign filing period.

“After careful soul searching, I have come to the conclusion that my most important principles and philosophies are more closely aligned with those of the Republican Party,” Stewart wrote.

The Republican principles Stewart cites includes promoting long-term, living-wage jobs; collecting “necessary taxes” while using money “prudently”; and supporting personal freedom and personal responsibility. She said in an interview Friday she was concerned about companies leaving the county and would work to create a vibrant business community.

Stewart’s announcement adds more certainty to how the District 3 election will shape up. Democrat Craig Pridemore, a former county commissioner and state legislator, announced his intention to run last month. He’s also one of three Democrats from whom commissioners Tom Mielke and David Madore, both Republicans, will choose to fill the remainder of the seat’s term.

The seat became vacant in April when former Commissioner Steve Stuart resigned to become Ridgefield’s city manager. He announced in January he did not intend to seek re-election.

Rumors of a possible Stewart campaign for the District 3 seat began in February, political insiders say. In recent weeks, though, county Republicans said they were uncertain who would vie for the seat.

Pridemore said Friday that he anticipated Stewart would announce her candidacy. Stewart has name recognition and is well-liked within conservative circles, Pridemore said.

“She is very close to David Madore, so she will have ample funds,” he added.

But Stewart disputed that she had a “very close” relationship with either of the commissioners. She said neither Madore nor Mielke had approached her to run, or expressed interest in her filing as a Republican.

Stewart has been supported by Democrats, too, including former Commissioner Betty Sue Morris. Morris said Friday that while she respects and supports Stewart, she would endorse Pridemore.

The campaign will be Stewart’s first full-fledged bid for a partisan office. She previously served on the Vancouver City Council from 2001 to 2013, when she lost re-election to Alishia Topper. That position was nonpartisan.

She said she hopes the party designation doesn’t frighten away voters.

“I had never thought of myself as a heavily partisan person,” Stewart said. “I have stayed away from party designations because designations have come to mean very narrow range of thinking.”

Stewart previously ran a truncated bid for county commissioner in 2010. At the time, she filed to run as a Republican. She backed out and fellow Republican Alan Svehaug eventually made it to the general election, where he lost to Stuart.

On its website, the Clark County Republican Party wished Stewart luck and said there have been no other announced Republican candidates.