Vancouver places second in city hall beauty contest

Peoria City Hall in Peoria, Ill., wins the Leslie Knope trophy

By Scott Hewitt, Columbian Arts & Features Reporter

Published:

 

City hall contest results

Peoria, Ill. - 57%

Vancouver - 43%

Spirit is more important than bragging rights. Nobody knows that better than ultra-dedicated civil servant Leslie Knope. But, Knope also knows that bragging rights are pretty darned nice, too.

Look at it this way: Vancouver has both.

In a nationwide “City Hall Madness” beauty contest that began with 64 entries five weeks ago, Vancouver’s sleek, modern government headquarters south of Esther Short Park rose above almost all the competition — except for one classic, ornate, carved-sandstone city hall, built in 1899 in Peoria, Ill.

Peoria’s final vote total, released Saturday afternoon, was 39,173 or 57 percent. Vancouver’s vote total was 29,240, or 43 percent. The contest sponsor was an organization called Engaging Local Government Leaders — and the real point was to educate citizens everywhere about their cities.

“It was a really fun contest and it brought visibility to both of our cities and both of our city halls,” said Vancouver City Councilman Jack Burkman.

City hall partisans in either place, or anywhere else, were allowed to vote online once per day. Selfie photos taken in front of your favorite city hall counted as votes. Vancouver showed 10 tons of spirit, Burkman said, with a full-court press by Mayor Tim Leavitt and a flurry of recent selfie activity outside and inside our City Hall. But maybe Peoria showed 11 tons?

“Peoria did a great job,” Burkman said. “But we did, too. It was all in good fun.”

The outcome was obvious to election watchers by Friday night, but the official results came out Saturday: The Leslie Barbara Knope Greatest City Hall Trophy goes to Peoria.

(You probably knew that Leslie Knope is the eager-beaver star of TV’s “Parks and Recreation,” portrayed by Amy Poehler. But did you know her middle name is Barbara?)

Vancouver chose to be big about its loss, Burkman added: early Saturday morning, even before the outcome was official, our city tweeted out a film clip from the movie “Wayne’s World,” with adolescent rockers Wayne and Garth prostrating themselves before greatness and declaring, “We’re not worthy!”

“Congratulations @CityofPeoria_IL on a well-deserved #ELGLCityHall win! We’ll admit it now, it is a beautiful City Hall,” Vancouver tweeted.

That’s the spirit. “We have the second most beautiful city hall in America,” Burkman said. “That’s something to celebrate.”