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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 recommended for reelection to Clark County Council

The Columbian
Published: September 30, 2020, 6:03am

Since being appointed to the Clark County Council in January 2019, Gary Medvigy has had some missteps. But he is a thoughtful, engaged councilor who meshes well with the District 4 he represents; because of this, The Columbian’s Editorial Board recommends Medvigy for reelection.

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

In examining the race for District 4, which covers a mostly rural swath of east Clark County, voters will find two candidates capable of effectively leading the county. Medvigy, a Republican, is a retired U.S. Army major general and California Superior Court judge who was appointed to fill the seat vacated when Eileen Quiring O’Brien won election as county chair. Challenger Matt Little, who is running as an independent, is a fundraiser for early childhood education and has an extensive background in conservation efforts.

Medvigy strongly supports funding for public safety, calling it “the Holy Grail,” and cites his background as a selling point for reelection. “I know how to make decisions,” he said during a remote interview with the editorial board. “I have been trained in it.”

Despite being a relative newcomer to the area, Medvigy has done his homework on pressing issues and is well-versed on the region’s history. He stresses a need to improve the Interstate 5 Bridge across the Columbia River but also a need to plan for additional crossings. He says light rail should not be considered in immediate plans, in order to prevent a repeat of the Columbia River Crossing failure.

Unlike some Republicans in local government, Medvigy is not automatically opposed to the county’s permissible 1 percent annual increase to the property tax levy. He takes a more pragmatic approach, assessing the conditions in a given year before determining the best course of action.

That pragmatism, however, has not been evident in some recent events related to the coronavirus pandemic. Medvigy attended a rally for a Republican gubernatorial candidate where social distancing and mask-wearing were largely ignored. He explained to the editorial board that he isolated himself and was tested for COVID-19 both before and after the event. He also ineloquently challenged public health officials regarding the response to the virus, and posted a video in which he compared shutdown orders to martial law.

If Medvigy is reelected, he must demonstrate leadership rather than contributing to a culture that has prevented the county from fully emerging from shutdown orders.

Little’s campaign focuses largely on land-use planning, which is of particular interest to residents of District 4. He says his proposal will maintain the rural nature of the district and promote local jobs while being fiscally conservative. He believes that a replacement for the I-5 Bridge should take priority over additional crossings, and he criticizes Medvigy’s lax adherence to coronavirus precautions.

“I have a strong plan for the future of Clark County, and Gary doesn’t,” he told the editorial board. “You should vote the person, not the party.”

Little does, indeed, have a strong vision. Should he win election to the county council, we urge him to remain involved in local leadership and help bring that vision to fruition.

But for now, Gary Medvigy is a strong representative for the residents of District 4. The Columbian’s Editorial Board recommends that he be reelected.