In an effort to restore collaboration and relationships in the region, Clark County council chair candidate Marc Boldt announced Monday that, if elected, he will pursue the creation of a Council of Governments.
According to a news release, the council, if approved, would consist of the mayors of Clark County’s cities, the county council chair and potentially other jurisdictions such as utility or fire districts. The group would meet regularly to collaborate and advise on regional projects, Boldt said.
Boldt also jabbed at county Councilors David Madore and Tom Mielke in the announcement, saying that the county was once successful at cooperating and collaborating with other jurisdictions.
“But the divisive attitude shown by two members of the county council has fractured those relationships,” Boldt, who is running without a party preference, said in a news release.
Neither Madore nor Mielke returned a request for comment.
A nearby example is the Cowlitz-Wahkiakum Council of Governments, which supports both counties on government projects and establishes regional policy. For example, the group is assisting in the city of Longview’s Comprehensive Growth Management Plan update.
“There’s always something that’s coming up that does merit some sense of regional discussion and cooperation,” said Bill Fashing, executive director of the council. “A council of governments or a regional commission can often play a pretty strong role in helping to bring the various entities or opinions to the table.”
Vancouver Mayor Tim Leavitt, who has been a vocal critic of the leadership of the Clark County council, praised the proposal.
“There’s been an absolute void in leadership coming from the county,” Leavitt said. “Certainly, from my perspective, I welcome an opportunity for some improved leadership from the elected commission.”
La Center Mayor Jim Irish, who also has criticized the Clark County council, supported the recommendation. About 12 years ago, Irish organized a monthly dinner of Clark County’s mayors to meet informally and discuss policy. The tradition has stuck.
“It would give the county council a good feeling for where they’re coming from, where they can go with it, and have buy-in from the local cities in Clark County,” said Irish, who is retiring at the end of the year. “That’s government representing the people.”
Clark County councilor Jeanne Stewart, however, was skeptical. Restoring relationships was a cornerstone of Stewart’s own unsuccessful campaign for county chair, and has been a priority for the councilor in her first year in office.
“I worry about that kind of a structure,” Stewart, a Republican, said of the council. “Deals get traded. It gets away from individual decision makers. They just get overwhelmed by that big body.”
The other council candidates, meanwhile, were divided.
Mike Dalesandro, a Democrat running for county chair, said Boldt’s announcement was politically motivated and intended to “marginalize” Republicans Madore and Mielke.
“I want to put the politics of the past behind us,” Dalesandro said. “I get the intent of it, I just don’t know that this is being framed in the right matter.”
Chuck Green, a Democrat running for the District 2 seat, said the recommendation has “merit for discussion” and could help provide direction on projects that require the jurisdictions to work together.
District 2 candidate Julie Olson, a Republican, did not return a request for comment Monday.