In Our View: Pridemore for Commissioner

Thoughtful, knowlegeable Democrat demonstrates skills for collaboration

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During his years as a Clark County Commissioner and then a state Senator, Craig Pridemore reached an important conclusion about working with others in the formation of public policy: “I think the most important thing is that you have quality of argument.”

Pridemore is well-equipped to engage is such dialogue, demonstrating that he is articulate, engaging, and knowledgable of the issues. It is because of those traits that The Columbian recommends a vote for the Democrat in his race for Clark County commissioner against Republican Jeanne Stewart.

As always, this is merely a recommendation. The Columbian has faith in the ability of voters to examine the issues and the candidates before making an informed decision. That deliberation could be particularly important in this race for an open spot on the contentious Board of Clark County Commissioners. There is good reason for speculation about how a new member will mesh with commissioners David Madore and Tom Mielke, both Republicans. And while collaboration — if it is attainable — is crucial, the most important thing is to elect a thoughtful commissioner who can form and defend opinions.

In that regard, Pridemore emphasizes the need for the county to re-engage with other entities throughout the community. The current commissioners have frayed relationships with organizations such as the Columbia River Economic Development Council, the city of Vancouver, and even the Humane Society for Southwest Washington. Pridemore is correct in seeing a need to rebuild bridges — metaphorically speaking — in order for the county to move forward. “I think the whole theme of partnerships and working together is the central theme of this campaign,” he told The Columbian’s Editorial Board. While many a candidate stresses the need for collaboration, Pridemore demonstrates the personal skills to pull it off.

Regarding specific issues, Pridemore notes that he has been a longtime advocate for a county charter, and he supports the one on this year’s ballot; he believes the Interstate 5 corridor should be addressed before a third bridge across the Columbia is considered, because I-5 will offer the most economic benefits; and he opposes a proposed oil terminal at the Port of Vancouver, saying a waterfront development would have a more positive economic impact.

Stewart, meanwhile, was a member of the Vancouver City Council for 12 years until 2013 and would bring valuable institutional knowledge to the county commission. She is analytical and deliberate, and she is reluctant to express opinions on previous actions of the county without being privy to the deliberations that went into them. Stewart believes a third bridge should take priority over a revamped I-5 span; she is opposed to the proposed county charter; and she opposes the proposed oil terminal until issues regarding the safety of rail cars are addressed.

Stewart lost to Alishia Topper last year in a bid for re-election to the city council, a race that had detractors portraying her as one of the “Madore 4.” For this election, she has received maximum contributions from both Madore and his wife. She has, however, demonstrated a strong independent streak, and if she wins, our expectation is that she holds true to her pledge to remain independent and challenge Madore and Mielke on the issues.

Pridemore, though, would bring even more independence to the commission. He has garnered bipartisan support in this race, and he would provide a thoughtful counterpart to the sitting commissioners. Because of that, Craig Pridemore is the right choice for Clark County.