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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: Medvigy for Clark County Council District 4

The Columbian
Published: October 8, 2019, 6:03am

Be it an election for county council or city council or any other office, voters should look for candidates who are thoughtful, insightful and able to articulate a clear vision without clinging to ideological rigidity. With those traits in mind, The Columbian Editorial Board recommends that Republican Gary Medvigy retain his seat as Clark County Council representative from District 4.

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

Medvigy was appointed by fellow councilors in January to fill the seat vacated by Eileen Quiring following her election as Clark County chair. Because of that, this is his first election campaign in Clark County; the seat will be on the ballot again next year, following the expiration of the current four-year term.

In an interview with the editorial board, it quickly became obvious why Medvigy was appointed to the position. While he is a relative newcomer to Clark County following careers as a major general in the U.S. Army, as a prosecutor in the Army and Sonoma County, Calif., and as a California Superior Court judge, he demonstrates a deep understanding of local issues.

The clearest distinction between Medvigy and challenger Adrian Cortes, a Democrat who is a Battle Ground city councilor, comes with the question about the county’s permissible annual 1 percent property tax levy increase. Cortes has vowed to vote against any increase — a position that strikes us as unrealistic pandering.

Medvigy embraces a more thoughtful position. Saying that he would work to avoid any tax increase — and noting that he opposed new taxes related to development along 179th Street — Medvigy said a pledge to reject a tax increase is “irresponsible. We have a fiduciary duty to the county. That certainly is my goal — no new taxes. But I wouldn’t make any promises; I don’t think that’s responsible.”

On each issue facing the county, Medvigy is able to provide a thoughtful response that adheres to his conservative philosophy but also reveals an understanding of the complexities involved.

Among those issues is the future of the Clark County Jail, which is aging and overcrowded. Following a report from a task force that studied the future of the facility, Medvigy said he supports remodeling the current facilities. “We need some new structures,” he said. “We need to add some additional bed space for behavioral support, addiction, detox, mental health. We need to grow some aspects of the jail infrastructure and then remodel.”

That represents just the surface of a deep discussion with the editorial board. Because Medvigy missed a scheduled interview with both candidates, the board met with them individually. We encourage readers to view videos of interviews with both Medvigy and Cortes to glean insight into the candidates.

During those interviews, Cortes said Clark County Manager Shawn Henessee should be held accountable for underperforming county departments. Medvigy praised Henessee for finding savings in the county budget: “He’s doing the taxpayers’ bidding. He’s doing what you would want him to do to stay within budget without looking at raising taxes. But it’s a continuing challenge.”

Medvigy is the ideal person to help shepherd the county through its continuing challenges. The Columbian Editorial Board recommends that Gary Medvigy remain as District 4 representative on the Clark County Council.