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The following is presented as part of The Columbian’s Opinion content, which offers a point of view in order to provoke thought and debate of civic issues. Opinions represent the viewpoint of the author. Unsigned editorials represent the consensus opinion of The Columbian’s editorial board, which operates independently of the news department.

In Our View: Return Stober to Vancouver City Council

The Columbian
Published: October 7, 2019, 6:03am

When considering the election for Position 5 on the Vancouver City Council, voters will find two qualified candidates who are capable of helping to shepherd the city into the future. The Columbian Editorial Board recommends a vote for incumbent Ty Stober in his race against challenger David Regan.

Stober, who is completing his first four-year term, has proven to be a thoughtful and engaged councilor who has earned additional time to implement a forward-thinking vision for Vancouver.

As always, this is merely a recommendation designed to foster discussion and provide information. The Columbian trusts that voters will examine the candidates and the issues before casting an informed ballot.

One of those issues is a proposal known as A Stronger Vancouver. As composed, the plan would increase taxes and fees throughout the city to raise an additional $30 million a year for services ranging from public safety to parks. In an interview with the editorial board, each candidate expressed mixed feelings about the proposal before landing on different sides of the issue.

Stober praised the research and public outreach that led to the plan, which now must be vetted by the council. While he is not opposed to changes, Stober would vote in favor of the current proposal. “Stronger Vancouver is about an investment in our community,” he said. He added, “The decisions we make about parks and public safety affect the way people feel about our community” and said he is passionate about how residents “are able to feel connected to our community.”

Stober also noted how Vancouver’s approach to homelessness has changed in recent years, with the city in an active role after years of letting county government and private providers take the lead. He recognized problems at the Navigation Center that opened late last year, and said, “There are a lot of people being helped by the Navigation Center, (but) there is a lot of room for improvement.”

Regarding transportation, Stober supports a replacement of the Interstate 5 Bridge with a dedicated mass transit lane while also emphasizing local transit and bike lanes. “Making investments in our community’s public transit system will improve congestion in our city, reduce commute times, increase the accessibility of our city to the surrounding area, and make employment opportunities more accessible to residents,” he writes on his campaign website.

Regan takes a slightly different approach regarding A Stronger Vancouver. “I could definitely see why Stronger Vancouver was initially warranted,” he told the editorial board. “I’m not sure I can at this point support the entire package.” He is particularly concerned about a proposed Business & Occupation Tax.

Regan also presents a thoughtful approach to homelessness in the area, recommending a model similar to a pilot program in Everett, where social workers ride along with police officers to help de-escalate situations and connect people to services.

One area in which the candidates disagree involves community outreach while planning development in the Heights on the site of the former Tower Mall. Regan believes city officials have created a disconnect with residents, while Stober said, “There are a lot of projects where the city has not done a good job of outreach; the Heights is not one of them.”

Either candidate would be a thoughtful member of the city council, but Stober’s record indicates that he deserves a second term. The Columbian recommends Ty Stober for Vancouver City Council, Position 5.