The city expected anywhere from 15 to 20 people to apply for the vacancy on the Vancouver City Council. They got 56.
Council Position 1 was left vacant by Jack Burkman, whose term ended in 2017. Scott Campbell was elected to take over the position but died before the November election.
Both the city and the council made a concerted effort to spread the word that there was a vacancy, which included multiple posts on social media in English, Spanish and Russian. City Manager Eric Holmes said it’s clear their approach worked.
Because of the unexpected turnout, the appointment process will change slightly.
The council will now convene at 8 a.m. Feb. 5 to discuss candidates in executive session and decide who to interview later that evening. Holmes said candidates will be notified either way that morning.
“What that does is give council ample time to deliberate and it also doesn’t result in 56 people waiting around to see if they’re going to be interviewed,” he said.
Applicants for Vancouver City Council seat
Brooks “Nichoel” Casey
Peter Erick Marez
Elisabeth (Cleopatra) Mendez-Farias
Amanda Van Deventer
At 4 p.m. Feb. 5, interviews will begin. The council will decide how long to spend with each applicant during the meeting. The timing depends on how many applicants are selected to be formally interviewed.
Once interviews are concluded, the council will return to executive session and make a decision. In theory, a new councilor should be named by 10 that evening. Just in case, Holmes said, the council has reserved chambers at 7 p.m. Feb. 6 to conclude the process if additional time is needed.
The new councilor will be sworn in Feb. 12 and begin serving immediately.
The last appointment was in 2010, when Councilor Bart Hansen was selected to serve. There were only 15 applicants at the time. When former Mayor Tim Leavitt was appointed in 2003, there were 23 applicants.
Hansen said he’s excited about the number of applicants.
“The reason I’m excited is because I was a little bit concerned that there would be a rumor going around that we were looking for a certain person,” he said. “We’re looking for a large pool to draw from so we can make an informed choice.”
This round of applicants represents a robust cross section of the Vancouver community. Lines of work include teachers, office managers, retired professionals, a few planners and even a former Special Olympics coach.
Of the 56 applicants, here’s a few names we noted:
Miranda Bickford — former CEO of EggDrop, a subscription service that sends surprise toys.
The Rev. Marva Edwards — former president of the Vancouver chapter of the NAACP and former YWCA Clark County board member; named a Woman of Achievement in 2010.
Mary Elkin — serves on the Clark County Schools Advisory Council, the Vancouver Neighborhoods Alliance and founded the Friends of Fire Station 6.
Sarah Fox — senior planner for the city of Camas.
Nicolette Horaites — a student at Washington State University Vancouver, she ran for Campbell’s seat and lost in the primary.
Elizabeth Hovde — former Columbian columnist, current columnist for the Oregonian and an instructor at WSUV.
Laurie Lebowsky — community planner for Clark County.
Carmen McKibben — serves on the League of United Latin American Citizens board and works as a diabetes prevention coach at WSU Clark County Extension.
Wade McLaren — ran in 2016 for the 49th District, winning 16 percent of the vote, former owner of Blue Bird Transfer.
Erik Paulson — chairman of the Clark County Planning Commission.