In the race for Vancouver City Council, Pos. 1, it is easier to see the similarities between the candidates than it is to find differences. But while both contenders are well-qualified, The Columbian’s Editorial Board recommends Laurie Lebowsky for the position.
This is merely a recommendation designed to foster discussion. In examining the candidates and the issues, we believe voters will find that Lebowsky has a slightly stronger grasp of the issues and offers more details in describing how she would approach those issues.
Both Lebowsky and challenger Sarah Fox have strong records of community service and public involvement. Notably, both also work in local government as land-use planners, Lebowsky with Clark County and Fox with the city of Camas.
Lebowsky is the incumbent, although she has not yet been elected. She was appointed to the position early this year after Scott Campbell (no relation to the family that owns The Columbian and Columbian.com) was posthumously elected last year. Lebowsky was selected by sitting council members from a field of more than 50 applicants; Fox also was a finalist for the position.
Responding to a questionnaire from The Columbian about the most pressing issue facing Vancouver, Lebowsky said: “Based on the many discussions I have had with citizens, homelessness and affordable housing are the issues people bring up the most.” She also provided detailed thoughts about the effectiveness of an affordable housing tax levy approved by voters and wrote, “As an urban planner, I can shed light on finding options and solutions.”
Fox wrote: “There isn’t just a single issue of importance to Vancouver. There are several competing issues, which is why the city does outreach to the community and creates planning documents.” While that response is accurate and while one question is not enough to assess the candidates, the lack of specifics is common in Fox’s answers.
Fox also says, “An issue that cannot be stressed enough is the need for more higher-paying, family-wage jobs.” Nobody can argue with that, but we believe that Lebowsky demonstrates a better understanding of how to achieve those goals. Fox, who is president of the Camas Public Employees Association, told the editorial board during an interview, “Some of the really easy fixes are how you pay your own employees.”
This is not designed solely to denigrate Fox, who is a worthy challenger. Instead, it is an attempt to find differences between the candidates and to highlight Lebowsky’s strengths.
In her role as a county planner, Lebowsky has extensive experience working on transportation issues. She supports replacement of the Interstate 5 Bridge and says that is her top priority as a councilor, but adds that she would advocate for transit modes such as light rail or bus rapid transit only if they have the support of the community. She also advocates for diverse approaches to a housing shortage and the development of cottage-style homes and accessory dwelling units, saying, “I am proud to bring my wealth of land-use expertise to the table so we can pinpoint areas for appropriate housing options.”
Overall, Lebowsky articulates a clear vision that would prepare the city for continued growth. She says, “Vancouver should not only be a place where you live, but where you also have a great life,” and then she offers details for how to make that happen.
The Columbian recommends a vote for Laurie Lebowsky to remain on the Vancouver City Council.