Wednesday, August 4, 2021
Aug. 4, 2021

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In Our View: Reelect Paulsen to Vancouver City Council

The Columbian
Published:

In the election for Position 2 on the Vancouver City Council, incumbent Erik Paulsen is the clear choice and has earned the recommendation of The Columbian’s Editorial Board.

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

In Paulsen, voters will find a candidate who has broad experience in civic leadership. Prior to being appointed to the council in 2019 and winning election later that year, Paulsen served as chair of the Vancouver Planning Commission; as a board member of the Southwest Clean Air Agency; as a member of the city’s Affordable Housing Task Force; and with various charitable and environmental organizations.

Paulsen spent years serving the community in positions that helped him understand the issues facing residents and city government, so it was no surprise that The Columbian wrote editorially in 2019 that he had “established himself as a thoughtful and effective member of the Vancouver City Council.”

During a recent interview with the Editorial Board, Paulsen said, “I’m neither an ideologue nor a firebrand.”

That rational approach leads him to criticize the process that has led to the creation of bike lanes on Columbia Street near downtown: “It was a flawed process because we were under a time constraint.”

It also leads him to praise the planning for redevelopment in the Heights district: “When we reinvest and we redevelop a pivotal area, an underutilized area, in our city and we create a space for our community to gather, we create a special place where people can live and thrive and we hopefully create a space where the surrounding communities can access amenities we can only dream about and can’t imagine today.” At the same time, he recognizes the concerns of some local residents and the need for community engagement.

Regarding climate change, Paulsen says, “The city is not moving quickly enough when it come to climate; the bulk of the problem is existing buildings. I would like for us to act with more of a sense of urgency.”

He also provides insightful and knowledgable answers about homelessness and affordable housing and the city’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Video of the Editorial Board with Paulsen and challenger Kara Tess is available online.

Tess is a conscientious candidate who stresses that she is not accepting campaign donations “so I can’t be swayed; I’m always going to be here for the people.”

Her campaign is focusing on the region’s homeless situation by promoting mental health and substance abuse programs; creating affordable housing; and facilitating family-planning services.

We encourage Tess to be involved in community service, but at this point she lacks the experience and detailed insight that Paulsen brings to the position.

Meanwhile, Tami Martin also is on the ballot. We would like to know more about how Martin would address local issues, but she did not respond to multiple inquiries from The Columbian and did not respond to an invitation to a candidate forum organized by the Heights District Neighborhood Coalition.

Fortunately, Position 2 on the city council already is in good hands. The Columbian’s Editorial Board typically recommends two candidates prior to the primary election, but in this case we will limit our recommendation to one.

Voters should support Erik Paulsen for reelection to the Vancouver City Council, Position 2.

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