Ann Rivers on home rule charter: I’m neutral

State senator clarifies position on ballot measure in online post




State Sen. Ann Rivers, R-La Center, is clarifying her position on the proposed home rule charter that she helped craft amid claims that she is actively opposing it.

In a statement posted online, Rivers said she is staying neutral on the ballot measure and is neither supporting nor opposing the passage of the charter.

“I have had so many friends contact me about the proposed charter and mischaracterizations of my position that I felt this was the best way to state on-the-record where I am at with the charter,” she wrote, in a message posted to Facebook. “It is healthy for an electorate to examine their government from time to time and determine whether that government still serves the needs of the people. Therefore, I supported the charter process.”

She stopped short of backing the charter, saying only that she supported the citizens’ ability to weigh-in on the issue.

She said there are aspects of the charter she questioned, adding that it should not act as a referendum against commissioners David Madore and Tom Mielke.

She said she had been approached by both sides of the debate for support but has declined.

“I fully understand their desire for that support, but I have never taken a position one way or the other because I do not believe that to be my place in this system,” she wrote online.

While this is the first time since May that Rivers has publicly discussed her stance on the charter, her name has for weeks appeared on lists of charter opponents.

The website, for example, appears to be a source of the mischaracterization of Rivers’ position. The website lists Rivers as an opponent of the charter, along with other prominent names such as county Assessor Peter Van Nortwick and Vancouver Port Commissioner Jerry Oliver., a website that opposes the charter, is registered to MotionNET Inc., a company run by Madore. He is listed as the contact person for the website.

Rivers said she had been assured that her name would be taken off the list.

Madore did not respond to an emailed request Friday to explain why Rivers’ name was listed under charter opposition.

Rivers had last stated her position on the charter in May.

She belonged to the 15-member Clark County Board of Freeholders and helped craft the charter, which proposes changes to the way government functions.

Nan Henriksen, the former board chairwoman and a proponent of the charter, said she considered Rivers a supporter of the charter until the board dissolved.

Among the top changes are adding a county manager and two new board members, one of whom would be the chairman and be elected countywide. The other board members, changed to councilors, would be elected by district in the general election. Their pay would also be cut in half.

Although Rivers was a freeholder, she missed the final vote for the charter in May because of a family emergency. She said she would have voted with the majority to pass it along to voters. Three of the 15 freeholders — state Rep. Liz Pike, R-Camas, Tracy Wilson and Peter Silliman — voted against it.

Rivers’ position hasn’t changed drastically since May, when she commended the commissioners for giving people an opportunity to vote on a charter.

“It is not perfect. There are things that I like and things I don’t, but the process was excellent and I would have voted ‘yes’ on the proposed charter and ‘yes’ to make sure the voters would have their say,” Rivers said in May. “My confidence in the voters is absolute, and they will tell us if they think we were on track or not with their vote.”