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News / Politics / Clark County Politics

Bowerman sworn in as new Clark County councilor

Council now has more solidly Republican majority of 4-1 in place

By Jack Heffernan, Columbian county government and small cities reporter
Published: December 28, 2020, 5:00pm

Karen Bowerman has been sworn in as a member of the Clark County Council, which is now in position to pursue more conservative priorities.

Bowerman took the oath of office during a virtual ceremony Monday morning. She will represent council District 3, which covers east Vancouver.

Bowerman, a Republican, previously said that she hopes to bring a “conservative bent” to the council. Shortly after reciting the oath, administered by County Clerk Scott Weber, said that she hopes to move beyond campaign rhetoric. She described campaigning as less “formal” than her communications as a councilor.

“This date, to me, is kind of a line of demarcation. It’s movement from what has been, I’m going to call it, rah-rah type of campaign(ing). That’s sort of the way campaigns are,” Bowerman said. “It’s all serious business, and I want you to know that I not only take it seriously, but I am very much looking forward to it.”

Bowerman defeated Democrat Jesse James in the Nov. 3 general election with 51.31 percent of the vote. The candidates emerged from the Aug. 4 primary election after knocking off incumbent John Blom, who ran without party affiliation.

“It’s been a tough year in so many ways, but you know, in 2021, I just wish all of you the best of health and that we all remain in really close communication so that we’re always aware, ‘What are the greatest needs, the important needs in this county?’ ” Bowerman said.

The council will continue with a 4-1 Republican majority. But in recent years, Blom — a Republican before dropping his affiliation earlier this year — has voted with Councilors Temple Lentz, a Democrat, and Julie Olson, a Republican, on issues such as increasing tax collections associated with the annual budget. Council Chair Eileen Quiring O’Brien and Councilor Gary Medvigy, both Republicans, have opposed the collections.

Other issues the council will face next year include the county’s ongoing COVID-19 response and the selection of a permanent county manager.

“We look forward to having you be serious about what is going on in Clark County and begin our year right in 2021,” Quiring O’Brien said.

Charter review

Later Monday morning, each of the 15 members of the Clark County Charter Review Commission took their oaths of office.

The commissioners will conduct the first review of the 6-year-old county charter. Any proposed changes would appear before voters on a future ballot. From a field of 52 candidates in the Nov. 3 election, three were elected at large, and each of the four county council districts has three representatives.

Most of the commissioners have expressed interest in making council positions nonpartisan. Other potential discussion points include changes to the appointed county manager position, restructuring the county Board of Health, implementing a new ethics review process, and creating more robust diversity and equity guidelines.

“I’m looking forward to community input, and I hope people stay engaged and involved,” Commissioner Terri Niles said.

Columbian county government and small cities reporter