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News / Opinion / Editorials
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: Recommendations recapped for local elections

The Columbian
Published: July 16, 2021, 6:03am

Neither President Joe Biden nor any of his predecessors have helped determine which books your children read in school, how quickly local police respond to a 911 call or how much you pay in sales tax. But the people on the ballot for this year’s election will impact the daily lives of Clark County residents.

While odd-year elections do not generate the level of attention afforded the selection of a president or a governor, they can have a broad influence on our quality of life. Positions in local city governments and school boards are on the primary ballot this year, along with levies to fund emergency medical services in the town of Yacolt and Clark County.

Ballots are scheduled to be mailed today and must be dropped off or postmarked by the Aug. 3 primary. The top two candidates in each race will advance to the November general election.

Despite the importance of such elections, voters typically do not demonstrate much enthusiasm. The 2019 primary saw voter turnout of 25 percent, while the general election that year drew 36 percent.

Part of that is because elections for mayor, city councils and school boards in Clark County are nonpartisan, with candidates not declaring a party preference. While good governance knows no party boundaries, it is understandable that voters feel uninformed without an R or a D next to a candidate’s name.

The Voters’ Pamphlet, produced by the Clark County Elections department, includes background information and statements provided by candidates. Many candidates also have campaign websites, with web addresses typically included at the bottom of their statements in the Voters’ Pamphlet. And the Washington Public Disclosure Commission provides information about campaign contributions for each candidate.

In addition, The Columbian has provided robust coverage of many local races. News stories are designed to offer information about candidates and issues, and the Editorial Board has been interviewing candidates for races with more than two challengers. We share our recommendations with readers, and unedited videos of the interviews are available online.

It is understandable that races for city council do not create the enthusiasm of a presidential election. But look at it this way: You are not going to call President Biden about that car-swallowing pothole in front of your house, and if you did he wouldn’t be able to do anything about it. But you just might be able to call a city councilor and get a response.

With that in mind, here is a recap of the Editorial Board’s recommendations:

  • Mayor of Vancouver: Anne McEnerny-Ogle is the clear choice in a three-person race.
  • Vancouver City Council, Pos. 1: John Blom and Kim Harless. Mike Pond also is a strong candidate.
  • Vancouver City Council, Pos. 2: Erik Paulsen is the clear choice.
  • Vancouver City Council, Pos. 3: Diana Perez and David Gellatly. Glen Yung also is a strong candidate.
  • Evergreen school board, Pos. 1: Julie Bocanegra is the clear choice.
  • Vancouver school board, Pos. 2: Sandra Zavala-Ortega, Kathleen O’Claire and Chartisha Roberts. Michelle Belkot also is a strong candidate.
  • Vancouver school board, Pos. 3: Wendy Smith and Jorge Bailey should advance in a three-person race. Megan Gabriel informed The Columbian that she has moved out of the district and is no longer eligible. Because of that, the Editorial Board has delayed its interview of the candidates until after the primary. Update: Gabriel said Friday that she is not moving out of the district and is resuming her campaign.