Vancouver voters have the choice of electing a downtown businesswoman or a business consultant to the city council’s open seat, which Councilor Larry Smith is vacating at the end of the year.
Ty Stober, who has led a 50-person national sales team and worked for a variety of businesses, said he feels his leadership skills and business background are what Vancouver needs to achieve long-term success.
Linda Glover, a former elementary school principal and teacher, said she believes she has the confidence and experience to make tough decisions on the council. She wants to be a voice for the small-business community that the council currently lacks, said Glover, who runs the Design Consign resale shop in downtown Vancouver as part of her nonprofit work, which spans 20 years.
It could be a close race. In August’s primary election, Stober led with 41.55 percent of the vote, followed by Glover, who took 37.29 percent. A third candidate, Kathleen Metzger, lagged with 20.44 percent.
Both see homelessness as one of the city’s top troubles. Stober said the work that citizens such as Dorothy Rodriguez are doing to help the homeless simply stay dry and safe on the streets with tents, blankets and small huts is essential in the short term. This month, Stober helped secure thousands of dollars from an anonymous donor to buy 12 of the huts, built by the nonprofit Huts For Hope in Long Beach. He encourages concerned residents to reach out to organizations that work with the homeless to see how they can participate.
“We have to have some compassion, and we have to think about how we truly help these people,” he said, adding that the tent city that’s sprung up in west Vancouver is just one of about 15 homeless camps in the county.
He and Glover both said they are pleased that a day center for the homeless to shower, do laundry and store belongings is slated to open in December in the Fruit Valley neighborhood.
Ultimately, more housing will need to be constructed or repurposed to shelter the homeless, Glover said, adding that she thinks it’s remarkable that so many community members are coming together to be part of the solution.
“I think that’s kind of the character of Vancouver,” she said.
Both agree with the city council’s recent move to lift the ban on overnight camping in public places.
“We do people no good by criminalizing fighting to stay alive,” Stober said.
Asked what he would do to encourage the Clark County council to join in discussions with the city and nonprofits about how to manage the homeless problem, Stober said, “There’s no chance of that happening before Nov. 3.”
Two of the three county councilors, David Madore and Tom Mielke, “have no interest in the conversation,” said Stober, speculating that with the addition of two more councilors to the board in this election, progress might happen.
Although Glover noted that county leadership “seems to be more in a state of dysfunction,” she doesn’t think it’s a lost cause for Vancouver city councilors to reach out.
“We’re all partners in this together,” she said. “Maybe because most of the homeless reside in city limits, maybe the county isn’t having to face it as quickly as we’re having to now.”
In addition to homelessness, Stober said, he feels the city’s biggest challenges are growing local job opportunities by investing in streets and bringing high-speed Internet to people’s homes. He wants to boost quality of life by connecting neighborhoods that lack amenities with urban villages where people can walk from home to businesses. Parks need a long-term, sustainable funding plan for maintenance, he said.
Glover also wants to see poor streets and medians maintained, long-neglected parks and trails improved, and code enforcement ramped up so people take care of their properties.
“When people come in with business and jobs, they need to have the impression we’re a thriving community,” Glover said.