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News / Clark County News

Hansen, Smith victorious, Turlay leads in Vancouver City Council races

Negative campaigning leaves bad aftertaste for candidates

By Andrea Damewood
Published: November 8, 2011, 4:00pm
7 Photos
Vancouver city councilors Bart Hansen, right, and Larry Smith embrace after learning they had been re-elected Tuesday night.
Vancouver city councilors Bart Hansen, right, and Larry Smith embrace after learning they had been re-elected Tuesday night. Photo Gallery

The two incumbents running to keep their Vancouver City Council seats sailed to easy victories Tuesday night, while Bill Turlay appeared to be edging out Anne McEnerny-Ogle for Position 6.

In early returns, Turlay, 75, led McEnerny-Ogle, 58, 51.09 percent, or 12,298 votes, to 48.37 percent, or 11,642 votes.

“I’m cautiously optimistic — it’s better to be up by 2.7 (percent) than down by 2.7 (percent) at this stage of the race,” said Turlay from an election night party at the Veterans of Foreign Wars building. “I think that I can materially contribute to the city council and to discussions and decision-making.”

At an election night gathering at Clark

College’s Gaiser Hall, McEnerny-Ogle said she was not ready to call the race. But she said if things don’t go her way, she’ll be back in 2013, when the next city council seats expire.

“I thank the citizens for their support,” she said. “Our goal was to run a clean, positive campaign and I think we did that.”

Clark County Auditor Greg Kimsey said that about 23,000 ballots remained uncounted Monday night, about one-third of which will be from within Vancouver city limits. He said as a result, he couldn’t make an official call on the Turlay and McEnerny-Ogle race.

Unprompted, nearly every candidate in the city council races remarked on the negative campaigning that went on via political action committees — including two largely backed by anti-Columbia River Crossing activist David Madore — and called for a change.

This year shattered records for independent spending in Vancouver council races.

“I hope we have done away with negative campaigning,” said Turlay, who condemned independent attack ads and fliers sent by the Save Our City PAC to support him. “A lot of money was thrown at this, and maybe we could learn something from this. Maybe we shouldn’t practice politics that way.”

McEnerny-Ogle, who saw more than $30,000 spent on her behalf by Unite Here, a New York City-based PAC, was coy about whether she thought their fliers helped or hurt her.

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“This is a political action committee that represents thousands of middle-class workers,” she said. “I’m sure they thought they were helping the campaign in a positive way.”

In the other two races, clear victors emerged Tuesday.

Councilor Bart Hansen, 36, was leading Josephine Wentzel, 52, with 54.27 percent, or 13,012 votes, to 45.17 percent, or 10,832 votes.

“I’m very pleased with the results … I’m humbled by them,” said Hansen, who ran last year to keep his seat after being appointed to fill Mayor Tim Leavitt’s open spot. “I think this is a reflection of the work I’ve done on council so far. I think it shows that it’s message over money. My opponent ran a very negative race. I stuck to the issues and my record and that resonated with the voters.”

Wentzel did not return a call for comment.

Mayor Pro-Tem Larry Smith, 69, was winning against Cory Barnes, 24, with 57.91 percent of the vote, or 13,479 votes, to 41.48 percent, or 9,654 votes in the race for Position 5.

At Gaiser Hall, Smith said he ran again this year to see the Columbia River Crossing break ground and to help further development on the waterfront.

“Those are key measures that need to be pushed along,” he said.

Smith also mentioned the harsh campaign climate this year.

“I have misgivings about seeing the negativity seep into a lot of elections —that’s not healthy,” he said, adding he thinks that it discourages good people from running for local office.

His opponent, Barnes, said he was happy to have run and cleared 40 percent of the vote. Barnes said his political involvement will only grow, and he said he hopes to encourage other young citizens to get involved politically.

“I’m excited that I did this,” he said. “I’m excited that I live in a country and a community where I’m able to do this. I can stand up and I can challenge a policymaker … and put him on trial, and I have a right to do that.”