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News / Politics / Clark County Politics

Burkman takes big lead in Port of Vancouver race

Former city councilor garners nearly 62% of vote

By Jack Heffernan, Columbian county government and small cities reporter
Published: November 5, 2019, 10:26pm

Jack Burkman, a former Vancouver city councilor, emerged as the apparent winner Tuesday in the Port of Vancouver commission race.

Burkman earned 61.9 percent of the vote, while Dan Barnes, a semi-retired certified public accountant, collected 38.1 percent. If Burkman’s election is confirmed, he will serve a six-year term on the nonpartisan commission’s District 3 seat, which includes a $9,600 annual salary. He will succeed Jerry Oliver, who did not seek re-election after 12 years in office.

Burkman, 65, touted his experience after serving 12 years on the Vancouver City Council along with a number of boards and commissions, including 10 years on the Clark College Board of Trustees. He collected more than 200 endorsements and spent $25,868.39 — over $18,000 more than Barnes.

“I’ve been working to make this a better community for about 35 years,” Burkman said. “People have seen me do things that I’ve said I would do.”

Barnes, 67, is a political newcomer who promised to shake up a “very passive” port commission. He could not be reached for comment Tuesday night.

Burkman said he plans to espouse environmentally friendly jobs, transparency and sound fiscal management as a commissioner.

“It’s not broken. We just need to tweak a few things,” Burkman said.

During the campaign, the candidates were far apart on property taxes.

In an interview with The Columbian’s Editorial Board, Barnes mentioned the port’s agreement four years ago to donate 541 acres to Columbia Land Trust and provide $7.5 million for industrial and marine development on 450 acres at its Columbia Gateway site. The final $1.5 million payment will be made in May 2020, Barnes said.

Barnes, who said in the interview that he wasn’t aware of any deferred maintenance or other outstanding needs, advocated for reducing property taxes by $1.5 million.

Burkman, however, said the property tax revenue could be used for long-term needs, including adding fill to the Columbia Gateway property and paying for redevelopment at Terminal 1.

Camas-Washougal port race close

The Port of Camas-Washougal race on Tuesday evening was too close to call, with Bill Ward, the incumbent, narrowly losing. Challenger Cassi Marshall, who works for a family-owned residential development company and previously spent 17 years with the Washougal School District, has 50.2 percent of the vote. Ward earned 49.1 percent as he attempts to retain his District 2 seat for a four-year term.

In the first contested Port of Ridgefield race in 20 years, Commissioner Scott Hughes on Tuesday appeared to have retained his District 2 seat for a six-year term with 60.2 percent of the vote. David Kelly, owner of Windy Hills Winery and a Ridgefield school board member during the 1990s, earned 39.4 percent.

Columbian county government and small cities reporter