Vancouver City Council race opponents Ty Stober and Linda Glover are in lockstep on most issues, whether it’s road funding solutions, fireworks or where the fault lies in the feud between the Clark County council and the city.
Stober, 44, and Glover, 66, aired their views Wednesday in a cordial meeting with The Columbian’s editorial board. Absent was Kathleen Metzger, the third candidate in the three-way nonpartisan competition for outgoing Councilor Larry Smith’s seat in the Aug. 4 primary. Metzger, who filed for Position 5 just minutes before May’s filing week deadline, declined to participate without providing a reason.
One of the biggest issues the city is grappling with is finding a long-term way to pay for street maintenance, repairs and construction. Both Stober and Glover agree the solution should involve a combination of raising fees and taxes, but they said careful study of the matter and continued community outreach are critical before taking action. Potential funding sources the city has identified include auto license fees, business license surcharges, a sales tax hike and a property tax increase. A public vote would be needed to hike sales or property taxes or to levy a car tab fee greater than $20 per year.
Both candidates also agree that the city council needs to adopt an ordinance giving it the authority to declare an emergency ban on fireworks during times of extreme fire danger. Scores of local residents, fearful of fireworks setting their property ablaze, have been pleading with local and state officials to outlaw fireworks. However, by state law, it takes a year for fireworks ordinances to go into effect. So nothing can be done this season except hope citizens use their fireworks responsibly.
“It’s scary to think what could happen,” said Glover, executive director of a nonprofit organization that runs small enterprises such as the Divine Consign furniture resale shop downtown.
Stober, who advises businesses on the marketing and adoption of energy-saving technology, said it’s time for the community to realize “we need to be safe and reasonable” with fireworks and that he would favor prohibiting “things that blow up and go boom and shoot up into the sky.”
Glover acknowledged that fireworks are a community tradition. But she said if the public supported a ban in the future, then “we could work toward that.”
“I think it has to evolve slowly,” she said.
Both candidates also addressed the ongoing rift between elected officials in the city and their Clark County counterparts. Though problems have been evident for years — former Mayor Royce Pollard and former County Commissioner Betty Sue Morris rarely saw eye-to-eye — the antipathy is greater now. Stober and Glover see it as primarily the county’s fault.
“The county council is just riddled with complications and problems. It just keeps coming up and coming up and coming up,” Glover said. “We can’t just give up. … Together, we’re so much stronger than when we’re not working together.”
“I place the blame squarely on the county council,” Stober said, adding that County Councilor Jeanne Stewart, a former member of the Vancouver City Council, is doing a “tremendous job.”
Stober hopes the two new members added to the county council in November’s election will be “interested in having productive conversations,” he said.
The candidates differed in their top concerns for the city. Stober’s is infrastructure, both for transportation and Internet technology. The city needs to advocate for providers to bring world-class Internet service into residents’ homes, he said.
Glover’s top priority is maintaining the city’s existing assets and creating family-wage jobs so people will stop moving to Portland.
“Vancouver needs to do a little more work on polishing its image. … It’s a full-service big city,” she said. “We’ve got a lot to sell. The opportunities are here.”
Asked what the city’s identity should be, Stober indicated it shouldn’t be seen as a mecca for backward thinking or pot smoking.
“One thing I don’t want to be is Vantucky,” he said. “And while it’s fun to joke about Vansterdam, that’s not what I want to be, either.”