Vancouver voters are faced with a difficult choice in the seven-candidate race for city councilor, Position 6. While there are several contenders, The Columbian’s Editorial Board recommends supporting Diana Perez and Paul Montague in the Aug. 6 primary.
As always, this is simply a recommendation. We trust that voters will study the candidates and the issues before casting an informed ballot. Regardless of which two finalists advance to the November general election, we expect that Vancouver will elect a worthy councilor to replace Bill Turlay, who is not seeking re-election.
Perez is running for office for the first time, but her lengthy history of public service marks her as a well-qualified candidate. She works as a program specialist for the U.S. Forest Service and has more than 25 years of experience in public land management. She has served on the Stronger Vancouver committee; has been appointed by the governor as a commissioner for Washington State Parks and Recreation; has served on the city’s Strategic Plan Oversight Committee; and has been co-chair of her neighborhood association.
With the Stronger Vancouver committee, she helped devise a proposal to raise taxes by $30 million a year in order to increase city services. While that proposal is likely to draw opposition from many residents, Perez demonstrates a thoughtful demeanor and a firm grasp of the issue. “We are not meeting the needs and demands of the population,” she said when the editorial board held a group interview with the candidates. “We have a very shallow tool box” of methods for raising funds.
Perez, a resident of east Vancouver, has been deeply involved in community affairs and has developed a strong understanding of the issues facing the city.
Montague also has a strong resume to recommend him as a worthy addition to the council. He works for the Greater Vancouver Chamber of Commerce, is a former executive director of Identity Clark County, and has been involved with the Fort Vancouver Regional Library Foundation, Columbia Credit Union and the Rotary club. While many details of the Stronger Vancouver proposal remain to be vetted, he effectively summarized the issue: “Philosophically, I like Stronger Vancouver because it invests in our community.”
Montague has a history of achieving economic development through collaboration, giving him a strong sense of how best to prepare the city for the future.
Although The Columbian recommends Perez and Montague in the primary election, several other candidates also demonstrate a strong vision for the city. In particular, Mike Pond stands out. Pond has deep roots in Vancouver and has served with a variety of community organizations and local political campaigns.
The race also includes Jeanne Stewart, a former city councilor and county councilor; Sarah Fox, who twice has been a contender when city councilors voted to fill vacant seats; Adam Aguilera, who has a background as an educator and business owner; and Dorel Singeorzan, pastor of a church in Portland. Because of an emergency related to his pastoral duties, Singeorzan was unavailable to meet with the editorial board, but the other candidates left no doubt that the city council will be in good hands regardless of the outcome of the November election.
Prior to the Nov. 5 general election, the editorial board will recommend one of the two finalists in the race for Vancouver City Council, Position 6. But with a strong field heading into the primary, we believe that Diana Perez and Paul Montague are the standouts in a strong field of candidates.