Citing family considerations, State Sen. Ann Rivers confirmed Wednesday that she won’t run for the newly created chair position on the Clark County council.
The La Center Republican’s announcement confirms what sources told The Columbian earlier this week.
“I firmly believe that when running for political office, family considerations must trump all others,” Rivers said in a statement emailed to The Columbian. “Upon reflection and consultation with those closest to me, I have decided to put my family first and withdraw from this upcoming election.”
Rivers announced in December that she intended to run for the countywide seat created after voters approved the Home Rule Charter for the county in November. The charter changed the three-person board of county commissioners to a five-person county council.
Republican Marc Boldt, a former county commissioner and state legislator, and current county Councilor Tom Mielke, another Republican and former state legislator, also have expressed a desire to run for the chair position.
Rivers, who would likely have been a front-runner for the spot, said her announcement is “in no way a political decision,” and that she had already garnered support from voters on both sides of the political divide.
“Let there be no doubt: Had I began the campaign, I would have ended it by winning this race,” Rivers said. “Just because one can do something doesn’t mean that you should.”
Rivers also served on the Clark County Board of Freeholders, a 15-person elected board that was responsible for drafting the county charter. Rivers received more votes than any other freeholder candidate during the 2013 election.
Rivers’ decision could give other candidates for the position a boost heading into the November election.
Boldt, of Hockinson, spent eight years on the county Board of Commissioners before he was defeated by current Councilor David Madore in 2012. Boldt was encouraged by what Rivers’ decisions could mean for his prospects, saying his desire to run bumped from “50 to 75” percent. Boldt will make a decision by the end of the month, he said.
“I think we just need to come away from this partisanship to do what the county council is supposed to do,” Boldt said.
Mielke, meanwhile, said he has already started campaigning for the seat and is confident of his chances in the race.
“I think I had a good chance all along,” Mielke said. “I’m the incumbent. I’ve been the chair (of the board of commissioners) two times.”
Mielke’s current term is set to expire in 2016, and he will not lose his seat if he loses the chair race. If he’s elected, the council would pick a Republican replacement for Mielke’s seat.
Though no one else has come out as an official candidate, several other names have circulated on social media, including former Sheriff Garry Lucas, Auditor Greg Kimsey and Temple Lentz, a Democratic precinct committee officer and former freeholder.
Kimsey, however, said he has no intention of running for the position.
Lentz said she is “still weighing if I’d be more effective in elected office or in holding those who hold office accountable.”
Lucas, who as of Wednesday afternoon had not returned a request for comment from The Columbian, said late last year that he has thought about running for the position.
The council chairperson will be one of two new positions added after the 2015 elections. The other will be a representative from the newly created District 2, which covers northwest Clark County including Ridgefield and La Center.