The election for Position 6 on the Vancouver City Council is largely a choice between what the city has been and what it can be in the future. Sarah Fox has a thoughtful, robust vision of the city’s potential and has earned a recommendation from The Columbian Editorial Board.
This is merely a recommendation. The Columbian trusts that voters will study the candidates and the issues, examining the options for dealing with growth and homelessness and a bustling economy before casting an informed ballot.
Such homework is particularly important in what promises to be a close race between Fox and Jeanne Stewart to replace councilor Bill Turlay, who did not seek re-election. In a seven-person primary, Fox advanced with 22.29 percent of the vote, while Stewart had 21.76 percent. Either candidate is capable of being a strong addition to the council, but we believe Fox has a clearer vision of what is possible in Vancouver.
A Vancouver native and Army veteran with experience in private business, Fox works as a senior planner for the City of Camas. Her broad background in both the public and private sectors, in addition to her work for a growing city, make her particularly well-suited to help address the issues facing Vancouver.
Among those issues is a proposal dubbed A Stronger Vancouver. The plan would use a broad increase in taxes and fees to raise an additional $30 million a year for a variety of services, ranging from public safety to parks. During an interview with the editorial board, Fox expressed general support for the plan, but worried that some taxes might disproportionately hamper small businesses. “At this point, though, the council needs to start doing their job,” she said. “The city needs to know what their council values.”
Regarding a persistent homeless problem, Fox stressed the need for flexible policies that allow for adjustments as needed and said, “It is less expensive to house people than to be reacting to our homeless problem.” She also focuses on bringing a fresh voice to the council, writing in the Voters’ Pamphlet: “I strive to be a thoughtful leader; someone who solves complex problems, brings fresh ideas, and people together.”
Stewart also has strong experience to recommend her for the council. She spent 12 years on the city council and, more recently, was a member of the Clark County Council. She is a mainstay in local politics and has served admirably while unfailingly acting with thoughtfulness and deliberation. That thoughtfulness is an attribute but also a fault; Stewart is prone to overanalysis that too often leaves policy decisions at a standstill.
During an interview with the editorial board, she expressed skepticism of A Stronger Vancouver, saying the plan could have unintended consequences and that she is opposed instituting a Business & Occupation Tax. She advocates for a more thorough analysis of substance addiction and mental illness in dealing with homelessness and stresses the need for collaboration between city and county governments.
Much of Stewart’s platform focuses on neighborhoods outside the downtown area that has led Vancouver’s growth in recent years. “It’s time for city council to rebalance the focus and take steps toward protecting the stability of our existing affordable, viable neighborhoods,” she writes in the Voters’ Pamphlet.
As Vancouver continues to grow, the city is facing new challenges and will face unforeseen challenges in the future. Sarah Fox is the best candidate for meeting those challenges and has earned The Columbian’s recommendation for Vancouver City Council.