In selecting the next person to fill Position 1 on the Vancouver City Council, voters have three strong candidates from which to choose. The Columbian’s Editorial Board recommends John Blom and Kim Harless in what promises to be a competitive race, while also commending Mike Pond as a worthy candidate.
To arrive at this decision, the board held a joint remote interview with the candidates; unedited video of the meeting is available online. We also considered a candidate’s resume, their stance on particular issues and their record of community service.
Ballots for the Aug. 3 primary will be mailed next week and must be returned by Election Day. In Washington’s top-two primary system, the two leading vote-getters in each race will advance to the November general election. For selected contests featuring more than two candidates, the Editorial Board will offer recommendations of two candidates prior to the primary; we then will recommend one for the general election.
As always, these are merely recommendations. The Columbian trusts that voters will study the candidates and the issues before casting an informed ballot.
For Position 1 on the city council (council positions are nonpartisan), incumbent Laurie Lebowsky is not seeking reelection. But the seat is likely to remain in thoughtful, capable hands.
Blom is a former county councilor who is extremely articulate and brings strong insight to the issues facing the city. With a professional background in real estate, he deftly combines the realities of governance with the needs of the private sector. As he puts it, he has an “understanding of how communities actually get built.”
He calls himself a “pragmatic problem solver,” and during his time on the county council he lived up to that accolade. Blom served as a Republican on the county council; following a conflict with the Clark County Republican leadership, he was defeated for reelection while running as an independent.
Harless is co-chair of the Clark County Charter Review Commission after being elected to that body in November. She also is a council member for the League of United Latin American Citizens and has been involved with numerous community organizations.
She stresses that her status as an Indigenous-Hispanic person would bring diversity to the council. And with a degree in environmental science, she would bring important insight to the city’s efforts to mitigate climate change.
Pond also stresses his ability to bring new perspectives to the council. He notes that he is a “candidate under 35” and that he lives in rental housing along the Interstate 205 corridor. A vast majority of council members in recent years have lived on the west side of the city. He is deeply involved in the community and a frequent attendee at city council meetings.
The race for city council, Position 1, also has a fourth name on the ballot. But unlike the other candidates, Justin Forsman has not been involved with community organizations, nor has he offered thoughtful solutions to the issues facing the city. He was disinvited from our remote interview after frequently violating The Columbian’s guidelines for online posts.
Fortunately, the other candidates are well-informed, and The Columbian recommends John Blom and Kim Harless for city council, Position 1. More important, we recommend that voters watch our interview and study the candidates’ campaign web pages before making an informed choice.