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Three on ballot in Clark Regional Wastewater District Commission race

By , Columbian staff writer
Published: July 18, 2017, 6:00am

Three candidates are vying for the two slots on the November ballot in the August primary election for the Clark Regional Wastewater District Commission, Position No. 3.

Voters will have their choice between an incumbent seeking a fourth term in the six-year, nonpartisan office, and two political newcomers — one a former district engineer and the other a commercial real estate professional.

John “Denny” Kiggins has held the seat for 18 years and said the district has achieved many milestones under his leadership. He recently retired after spending 50 years working in the specialty packaging industry. For 21 of those years, he owned his own business.

“I have too much left in me to call it quits,” he said. “I’d like to work another six years and give it to someone who might be a little bit younger.”

He touts the district’s low rates and regionalization with the Discovery Corridor Wastewater Transmission System as significant achievements during his tenure. Citing the district’s strong financial state, recent expansions and planned growth, he struggled to find areas where the district would need to improve.

“Everything seems to be running right,” he said.

Charles “Chuck” McDonald worked for the district from 1990 until 2008. He was previously a district engineer and an assistant manager. After that, he continued to work as a professional engineer for consulting firms.

With all the ongoing and scheduled development in north Clark County, much interaction between the district area jurisdictions will be required, McDonald said. He argues that he already knows many of the players involved and sees the potential to build relationships with other communities outside the Discovery Corridor.

McDonald said the district could benefit from stronger leadership from its elected officials.

“I feel some of the things that have come up over the years relate to a lack of leadership from the district — not at the staff level, but at the commissioner level,” he said. “I’ve seen that first-hand. … It needs to have stronger leadership in working with the county and cities in the area. I bring that skill set, capability and the context.”

Jim West has worked in commercial real estate for the last 10 years, and he holds a bachelors degree in economics from Willamette University. He said his background makes him well qualified for the position.

“From a standpoint of business skills, as far as being analytical, being able to jump into numbers, I’ll be very comfortable in being able to get in there and understand what’s happening.”

He said the district has done well managing its affairs and serving its customers — adding that he’s been one for 37 years.

But, with significant growth on the horizon, he argues that the district should take a stronger leadership role among wastewater service providers in north Clark County and that it should be more proactive about recruiting young talent to replace retiring employees.

West pointed to Kiggins’ tenure and to several other district elections that have had few candidates among his reasons for running.

“I think a system works best when people step in and give a choice,” he said.

All residents within the Clark Regional Wastewater District will vote on the candidates.

Ballots went out Friday. Election Day is Aug. 1.

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