Monday, February 6, 2023
Feb. 6, 2023

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Elkin tries again for Vancouver City Council

Community volunteer interviewed for vacancy filled by Lebowsky

By , Columbian politics reporter
Published:

Mary Elkin was one of six finalists from a pool of 56 interviewed for Position 1 on the Vancouver City Council.

Although she was first to be nominated, ultimately the job was given to City Councilor Laurie Lebowsky.

That night in February, Elkin vowed to run for the position.

“I still want the job,” she said. “It’s the natural progression.”

Elkin has spent the last eight years volunteering in the community and currently serves as chair for both the Vancouver Neighborhood Alliance and the Image Neighborhood Association. She also founded the Friends of Fire Station 6.

It’s her passion about public safety and the fire department that most know her for. Some, she said, have told her she needs to start talking about something else.

“I get that, but I’m not going to stop talking about public safety and fire,” Elkin said. “But that’s doesn’t mean that’s all I’m about.”

Elkin said the biggest issue for her is the budget and ensuring the city is making the right choices.

“I’m concerned about understaffing in our police and fire departments,” she said.

She also holds what could be an unpopular opinion: Elkin supports light rail.

“We would be cheating our grandchildren if we did not put light rail on the bridge,” she said. “It’s different than when I was a kid. I couldn’t wait to get a car. So many kids in our community, they don’t want to drive. That’s not their priority.”

Speaking of the bridge, Elkin said it’s unrealistic to think a replacement can be built without tolls.

“If we could get the federal government to just write a check, I’d be happy with that, but I don’t think that’s going to happen,” she said. “Tolls are going to have to be involved, but I think we need to be reasonable with them. I’d rather see a lower toll for a longer period than a high toll that not everybody comfortably can afford.”

Elkin is running against Lebowsky, the incumbent who Elkin says has a conflict of interest that gives her pause. Lebowsky works as a planner for Clark County. Lebowsky has previously said anyone who is part of the community has the potential for a conflict of interest.

“I have reservations about having two city council members that are employees of the county,” Elkin added, a reference also to Councilor Alishia Topper, who works for the Clark County Treasurer as a tax services manager.

She also just thinks she’s the best candidate for the job.

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Columbian politics reporter