In Our View: Campbell, Roberts for Vancouver City Council, Pos. 1

They top field of 5 candidates to replace Burkman on Vancouver City Council

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In a crowded field of five candidates for Vancouver City Council, Position 1, The Columbian’s Editorial Board recommends that Scott Campbell and David Roberts should advance to the general election.

As always, this is simply a recommendation designed to foster discussion. The Columbian trusts that voters will study the candidates and the issues before casting an informed ballot. The top two vote-getters in the Aug. 1 primary will advance to the Nov. 7 general election for a chance to replace Jack Burkman, who is retiring from the council.

Campbell is governmental and community affairs manager for Waste Connections — and should not be confused with the Scott Campbell who is publisher of The Columbian and a member of the editorial board. The candidate long has been a community leader through organizations such as the Parks Foundation of Clark County, the Fort Vancouver National Trust, and numerous others. He also has attained leadership positions in his career — for example, serving as five-term president of the Washington State Recycling Association.

Campbell stresses the need for efficient spending by city government and states that adequate funding for police and other first responders would be his priority in formulating the budget. He has a strong knowledge of the issues facing Vancouver but could strengthen his candidacy by providing specifics that go beyond popular talking points. Also, it should be noted, Campbell has been battling cancer for several years but says his prognosis is good.

Roberts, a self-employed real estate photographer and owner of an online sales business, is not as ingrained in the Vancouver establishment but is thoughtful and well-informed. His ability to provide a fresh perspective without embracing the ideological rigidity of many political “outsiders” will resonate with voters who are looking for a change in city politics. When it comes to taxpayer money, he said, “People spend money on a particular thing but they don’t think about the things they are not funding.”

Roberts presents creative ideas to address issues, but his political inexperience can be a shortcoming. For example, he recommends a “vote of the neighborhood” before approval of a tiny-home community to help combat a housing shortage, but there is no mechanism in place for neighborhood votes.

Among the other candidates, Jacob Kerr offers the strongest voice. His platform is based upon a three-point pledge: He will not serve more than two terms; he will “vote no on any tax increase on small business”; and he will oppose any mechanism for approving or funding the extension of Portland’s light rail into Vancouver. Kerr deserves credit for devising a plan, but when pressed, he often is unable or unwilling to delve into the details of the issues. Nicolette Horaites is a student at Washington State University Vancouver and describes herself as “extremely progressive.” And Maureen McGoldrick is on the ballot but is not running an active campaign.

Regardless of whom advances out of the primary, it will be essential that they sharpen their message prior to the general election. The eventual winner will have a difficult task in replacing Burkman, a thoughtful council member who is adept at understanding the nuances of an issue and is readily accessible to the public.

The Columbian believes that Scott Campbell and David Roberts have the best potential for developing into an effective official. We recommend that they advance in the race for Vancouver City Council, Position 1.