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News / Politics / Election

Councilor candidates in District 2 discuss transportation priorities

By Kaitlin Gillespie
Published: July 13, 2015, 12:00am

Meet the County District 2 candidates

Only two of these candidates will advance to the general election in November, regardless of party.

Chuck Green

Party: Democrat.

Age: 56.

Work experience: Bus Rapid Transit project manager for C-Tran, previously Clark County’s Transportation Manager and helped develop transportation plan for the cities of Ridgefield and Washougal.

Political experience: Ran for Ridgefield School Board in 2013, but lost.

Education: Degree in civil engineering from the University of Michigan.

Website: www.chuck4clarkcouncil.com

Mike Pond

Party: Democrat.

Age: 27.

Work experience: Customer service representative at Road Runner Sports in Portland.

Political experience: Democratic Precinct Committee Officer for Precinct 566.

Education: Degree in communication from Western Washington University.

Website: www.votepond.com

Mary Benton

Party: Republican.

Age: 53.

Work experience: Office manager of National Consulting Services Inc., the company she owns and manages with her husband, Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver.

Political experience: Republican Political Committee Officer for Precinct 550.

Education: Unknown; Benton did not return request for comment.

Website: www.electmarybenton.com

Tanner Martin

Party: No party preference.

Age: 24.

Work experience: Robotics technician for company specializing in silicon wafers.

Political experience: None.

Education: Degrees in applied electrical sciences and aerospace metals technology from Community College of the Air Force.

Meet the County District 2 candidates

Only two of these candidates will advance to the general election in November, regardless of party.

Chuck Green

Party: Democrat.

Age: 56.

Work experience: Bus Rapid Transit project manager for C-Tran, previously Clark County's Transportation Manager and helped develop transportation plan for the cities of Ridgefield and Washougal.

Political experience: Ran for Ridgefield School Board in 2013, but lost.

Education: Degree in civil engineering from the University of Michigan.

Website: <a href="http://www.chuck4clarkcouncil.com">www.chuck4clarkcouncil.com</a>

Mike Pond

Party: Democrat.

Age: 27.

Work experience: Customer service representative at Road Runner Sports in Portland.

Political experience: Democratic Precinct Committee Officer for Precinct 566.

Education: Degree in communication from Western Washington University.

Website: <a href="http://www.votepond.com">www.votepond.com</a>

Mary Benton

Party: Republican.

Age: 53.

Work experience: Office manager of National Consulting Services Inc., the company she owns and manages with her husband, Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver.

Political experience: Republican Political Committee Officer for Precinct 550.

Education: Unknown; Benton did not return request for comment.

Website: <a href="http://www.electmarybenton.com">www.electmarybenton.com</a>

Tanner Martin

Party: No party preference.

Age: 24.

Work experience: Robotics technician for company specializing in silicon wafers.

Political experience: None.

Education: Degrees in applied electrical sciences and aerospace metals technology from Community College of the Air Force.

Website: <a href="http://www.facebook.com/votefortanner">www.facebook.com/votefortanner</a>

Julie Olson

Party: Republican.

Age: 52.

Work experience: Sales management and marketing for private medical companies for 28 years.

Political experience: Ridgefield School board member for eight years, six of which were as its president.

Education: Bachelor's degree in microbiology from the University of Idaho.

Website: <a href="http://julieolsonforclark.com/Julie_Olson/Vote_Julie.html">julieolsonforclark.com/Julie_Olson/Vote_Julie.html</a>

Website: www.facebook.com/votefortanner

Julie Olson

Party: Republican.

Age: 52.

Work experience: Sales management and marketing for private medical companies for 28 years.

Political experience: Ridgefield School board member for eight years, six of which were as its president.

Education: Bachelor’s degree in microbiology from the University of Idaho.

Website: julieolsonforclark.com/Julie_Olson/Vote_Julie.html

Improvements to Interstate 5 appear to be a top transportation priority for most candidates in the Clark County council District 2 race. The district includes parts of northwest Clark County, including the cities of Ridgefield and La Center. Only two of these candidates will advance to the general election in November, regardless of party.

Here are talking points on key issues from the Clark County council candidates in District 2 to help voters decide for whom to support in the upcoming primary election:

o Chuck Green, Democrat: Green estimates that 30 percent of District 2 commutes across the Columbia River each day for work. And if others in the district aren’t driving to Portland, they’re still using Interstate 5 to get to work. Improvements along that corridor and replacing the Interstate 5 Bridge, therefore, are among his top priorities.

Green, project manager for C-Tran’s bus rapid transit program, also calls for a bus route from Hazel Dell, and eventually Salmon Creek, into Portland. He estimates the proposal would save hundreds of millions of dollars over light rail. That work, however, begins with relationship building in the region, he said.

“The county has spent the better part of three years destroying partnerships on the other side of the river,” he said.

Green also called for an end to the county fee-waiver program, which waives traffic fees for nonresidential developments, saying it is “straining the county road fund’s ability to keep up with road capacity.”

o Mike Pond, Democrat: A replacement Interstate 5 Bridge must be the region’s top priority, Pond said, and it must include a mass transit option. Pond fell short of calling for light rail but called bus rapid transit programs “a Band-Aid.”

“Having viable mass transit is a necessity for our future,” she said. “How are we going to move people around?”

Killing the Columbia River Crossing was “short-sighted,” Pond said, and it is now time to begin reaching out to partners across the river and regional stakeholders in a new bridge project, as well as to the community at large to see what its needs are.

“The plan needs to be looked at holistically,” he said

Pond also called for investments along state Highways 14 and 500 and Padden Parkway. Those investments must include “alternative modes of transit,” he wrote on his website.

o Mary Benton, Republican: Benton did not return a request for comment, and her website does not address transportation issues in Clark County.

o Tanner Martin, no party preference: Martin said Interstate 5 improvements need to be Clark County’s top priority.

“It is the lifeline to the whole West Coast,” he said.

Martin also criticized the county for its opposition to the Columbia River Crossing. “They turned something down that would have greatly improved our county,” he said.

He added that he is also in favor of a third bridge west of the I-5 Bridge, connecting the Port of Vancouver to the Port of Portland to improve economic growth.

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Martin also called for improved public transportation farther north toward Ridgefield. What exactly that should look like, however, should be left up to experts in the subject, while the county should empower leaders in those fields to make the best decisions, he said. “How can we better facilitate the needs of the people?” he asked.

o Julie Olson, Republican: Olson supports creating a 50-year bridge planning commission, made up of regional and state partners in Washington and Oregon.

“Let’s get stakeholders and leaders together to prioritize,” Olson said.

Working together on transportation issues will allow the county to “get out in front” of land planning for jobs and homes in the future.

Olson added that she’s in favor of an additional crossing, but the I-5 corridor must be Clark County’s top priority.

On public transportation, Olson said she is concerned that bus rapid transit, with its fewer stops, would have an unfair impact on the elderly and disabled who may have to walk farther to reach the bus. She added that she is in support of public transportation, as long as the projects don’t come “at expense” to those who use them.

Olson publicly denounced light rail early in the campaign.

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