Diana Perez, a former finalist to fill Alishia Topper’s seat on the Vancouver City Council, has announced her candidacy for the Position 6 seat held by Bill Turlay.
Perez said that going through the council vacancy process reaffirmed her commitment to the community. And while she was not ultimately appointed to fill Topper’s seat — that seat went to Councilor Erik Paulsen — she decided to seek office, anyway.
“I felt it would be irresponsible of me to not continue to advocate for our Vancouver community,” Perez said. “I felt (Turlay’s position) was the most logical place because the other council members are doing their fair share of a good job.”
Turlay, who has not yet declared whether he’ll seek re-election to the post, could not be reached for comment.
Perez works for the U.S. Forest Service and serves as a commissioner for Washington State Parks and Recreation. She founded the Southwest Washington League of United Latin American Citizens and serves as LULAC’s state director.
Perez is also a member of Stronger Vancouver, a community group tasked with developing a sustainable funding plan for the city.
She said one of the biggest driving factors in her bid for council is its current lack of diversity, in more ways than one.
“I think the biggest thing is just having a completely different perspective,” she said. “I have a different view of things, I have a different lived experience that I can bring voice to.”
Perez said she wants to bring more voices to the table as Vancouver’s growth continues.
“With that growth, and the city not being able to keep up with that growth financially, there’s a disconnect now,” she said. “I’m hoping that more folks in our community would gain a better sense of connection to our city and what we’re trying to accomplish.”
Adding back the youth voice is just one example, according to Perez. She said she wants to re-establish a youth advisory council, “a huge voice we’re missing.”
The only way to ensure everyone has opportunity for growth, she said, is to make sure the council is listening to all voices.
“There were a lot of opportunities where I think the council could be a strong voice for all of its residents,” Perez said. “Part of that is ensuring that we’re all safe, that we all have a city that is ours, that we belong to, instead of fearing for who’s going to treat us differently because we look different.”