While Vancouver is a well-run, thriving city, there are some pressing issues. Dealing with homelessness and a lack of affordable housing, playing a role in transportation upgrades and setting an agenda that will bolster the economy all come under the purview of the city council.
With those issues in mind, The Columbian Editorial Board recommends Mary Elkin and Laurie Lebowsky in the race for Vancouver City Council, Position 1, in the Aug. 7 primary election. These are simply recommendations designed to foster discussion and provide information; The Columbian trusts that voters will examine the candidates and the issues facing the city before casting an informed vote. While each voter will cast a ballot for one candidate in the nonpartisan election, the top two vote-getters will advance to the Nov. 6 general election.
Elkin has a strong history of community involvement — particularly work with police, fire and school organizations — and said, “I’ve been doing a version of this job for the past eight years.” She is chairwoman of the Image Neighborhood Association, and the fact she is a resident of east Vancouver would enhance the geographic diversity of the council.
When asked about how the city should address homelessness, Elkin stressed government’s role as a facilitator to bring various organizations together. She favors replacement of the Interstate 5 Bridge and supports extending light rail into Vancouver. While the city council is not the decision-making entity regarding the bridge, it will play a role in supporting or opposing any eventual proposal.
Lebowsky is a current council member, having been selected by sitting councilors earlier this year. Scott Campbell was posthumously elected to the council last November, resulting in the process that led to Lebowsky being appointed.
Lebowsky also has a strong history of community service, and has extensive professional experience in working on transportation issues. She also supports replacement of the I-5 Bridge but says she would advocate only for transit modes that have the support of the community. Her campaign materials note that she “believes we need more diverse housing and more thoughtful approaches such as cottage-style homes and accessory dwelling units.”
Elkin and Lebowsky stand out in a five-person field, but Sarah Fox also is a worthy candidate. She is a senior planner for the city of Camas and is vice-chair of the Clark County Historic Preservation Commission. She also is president of the Camas Public Employees Association and says of the council’s role in creating jobs and boosting wages, “Some of the really easy fixes are how you pay your own employees.”
Adam Shetler and Maureen McGoldrick also are on the ballot but do not have the extensive community involvement demonstrated by the others. Shetler is a political newcomer but is an enthusiastic candidate who said, “I want to make a difference and help the homeless and help mental health.” McGoldrick is running a stealth campaign and has not responded to inquiries from The Columbian. She advanced to the general election in last year’s city council race but lost to Campbell following his death.
In the five-person race for Vancouver City Council, The Columbian Editorial Board believes that three candidates have demonstrated the kind of community involvement and institutional knowledge that should be expected of council members. Among those, we recommend that Mary Elkin and Laurie Lebowsky advance to the general election.