Vancouver’s mayoral race unorthodox, complicated

McEnerny-Ogle appears to have decisive edge, but there are some unknowns

By Katy Sword, Columbian staff writer



Candidates for Mayor of Vancouver

Anne McEnerny-Ogle

Age: 64.

Political experience: City councilor and mayor pro tem.

Endorsements: Mayor Tim Leavitt and Councilors Jack Burkman, Alishia Topper and Ty Stober.

Funds raised: $42,482.94


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Jonathan Sauerwein

Age: 56.

Political experience: Worked with State of Oregon on outreach, enrollment and access to health care.

Endorsements: None.

Funds raised: None.


Vancouver Races

Mayor: Anne McEnerny-Ogle, Jonathan Sauerwein (write-in)

Position 1: Maureen McGoldrick, Scott Campbell (deceased)

Position 2: Alishia Topper (incumbent), Justin Forsman

Position 3: Michelle Beardshear and Linda Glover 

The mayoral race in Vancouver is, in theory, a one-candidate race. Councilor Anne McEnerny-Ogle won 63.11 percent of the vote in the primary, and her opponent on the November ballot, Steven Cox, withdrew in September. But there are a lot of unknowns.

Cox is still on the ballot and therefore can still receive votes. If he wins, the council would appoint a new mayor based on a pool of applicants if he declined to accept the position.

There’s also a newcomer. Jonathan Sauerwein declared his write-in candidacy Oct. 2 after Cox withdrew.

The position will pay $2,488 a month and involves duties similar to those of city council members, plus representing the city at various meetings and functions. In Vancouver, a non-elected city manager runs the daily operations of government.

Here’s what McEnerny-Ogle and Sauerwein had to say about a few key issues. Responses have been edited for clarity.

Most important issue

• McEnerny-Ogle: We need to build a stronger sustainable economy for businesses that bring strong family-wage jobs while encouraging the construction of housing for those families and employees.

• Sauerwein: Traffic. We need to work with the county and state to make Clark County a business-friendly zone to compete with Portland. By doing this, we can reduce the number of people who have to drive to Oregon for good paying jobs.


Sauerwein: We will not be able to help those on the streets if we do not separate out the reasons people are on the street: mental health, drug use and struggling. (For example), we have a portion of people that cannot find housing in their range, because of lack of high paying jobs in Clark County and lack of education and training. We need to attract business and bring them into a business friendly environment, and find solutions on education and training.

McEnerny-Ogle: We’ll distribute the Affordable Housing Fund – Prop. 1 funds, Community Development Block Grant funds, and HOME funds to encourage more building and preservation of affordable housing. We’re discussing more housing types in residential zones and changing our codes to encourage alternative housing.

We need to fund and locate a new Homeless Day Center as soon as possible.

Affordable housing development

McEnerny-Ogle: In February 2017, we held the housing summit to educate new developers, and organizations, on the AHF application process and opportunities to combine funding from all available funds. I’d like to continue holding housing summits each February, prior to the application period.

Sauerwein: We need to ask the developers that question and work something out with them. We could guess, but we might get it wrong.


Sauerwein: I’ve been commuting to Portland for the last 2 1/2 years, and getting people out of their vehicles is a dream and not a reality. (If we want to expand public transportation), the longer we wait, the more it will cost for a solution we need now.

McEnerny-Ogle: I support the council’s strategic plan “to develop and maintain a safe, balanced and innovative transportation system that will meet the needs of future generations.” To do that, we need to plan for multiple public transit options including bus, Bus Rapid Transit and light rail over the next many years and decades.


McEnerny-Ogle: Implement the Westside Mobility Strategy with freight delivery in the industrial areas by way of the new 32nd Avenue Extension and Fruit Valley Road bridge replacement. Improve the Mill Plain Boulevard/I-5 Interchange to expand ramp capacity and improve traffic flow. Put Main Street on a road diet with the reallocation from four to three lanes with a center turn lane. Replace the Interstate 5 Bridge and keep the I-5 traffic on the corridor.

Sauerwein: We need to work with the state to control the flow of traffic during rush hours, by using other means. We could look at no lane changes, close certain on-ramps during rush hour, etc. … Other areas have had to deal with this, so we can reach out to them to see what our options are.

Waterfront vision

Sauerwein: Beauty, relaxation, fun!!!

McEnerny-Ogle: The master plan for Vancouver’s historic waterfront has been designed.  I can’t wait to enjoy the restaurants, walk in the 7-acre park, wade in the water, and stand on the edge of the Grant Street pier


McEnerny-Ogle: Since 2001, several revenue initiatives and the Great Recession have hurt the city’s ability to keep up with costs that keep going up due to inflation.  Our population continues to grow, nearly 3000 per year, requiring additional expenditures resulting in a structural deficit

Sauerwein: On average, Americans have a tendency to overdo things like, eating, spending money, reacting to things, etc … I know we can reduce money that we are spending, but we need to look at each item to determine if we need to change it or leave it.

Business and operations tax

Sauerwein: At this time, I would say no. We need to attract business to survive and grow.

McEnerny-Ogle: We’ve asked a group of business and community leaders to engage our community in this conversation. Vancouver Strong is designing and overseeing the process to develop services and funding package that will fund our community’s aspirations. If (Vancouver Strong recommends a B&O tax), then I support taking that recommendation to the community for their voting consideration.

First thing you’d do if you win?

McEnerny-Ogle: The first thing will be to thank the voters for putting their trust in my leadership.  Then, I’ll start working with the Council. We’ll have new Councilors bringing their ideas and aspirations.  We’ll have retreat to plan and a team to build.

Sauerwein: Put together a volunteer Mayor advisory committee, consisting of a diverse group of people from all over Vancouver to do the following: put together a comprehensive list of issues in Vancouver and ideas to handle them, look into the budget and see if we are spending our money wisely and work with the city to build stronger relationships with all the people in Vancouver.

What should voters know about you?

Sauerwein: In January of 2015 took on a 4 month pilot project that was put together by the State of Oregon’s Governor’s office, SEIU and the major hospitals in Portland, to see if they were doing a good job getting people insured.

McEnerny-Ogle: I’m a mom, a wife, and a retired math teacher. I love to bake pies for others and I’ve spent decades helping young people in Scouting.