Vancouver City Councilor Laurie Lebowsky will not seek re-election in November and will instead back the candidacy of a former Clark County councilor.
“While I am looking forward to devoting more time to my professional career, I will continue to be an interested citizen who looks forward to a promising future for our city,” Lebowsky said in a media release.
Her announcement came on the heels of a campaign declaration from John Blom, who launched a bid for Vancouver City Council Position 1 on Sunday. Kim Harless Felix, currently the co-chair of the Clark County Charter Review Commission, also announced a campaign for Lebowsky’s council seat over the weekend.
In a media release, Blom said he was “ready to work for our residents on day one using my diverse experience, deep knowledge of this community and a hands-on understanding of how the work of the city gets done.”
Harless Felix also emphasized her local roots in her campaign launch.
“I grew up here and went to college here; I work here and am raising my family here. Who I am today is a product of what opportunities and challenges this community has to offer,” Harless Felix said.
Lebowsky was originally appointed by the city council to fill a vacant seat in February 2018 and held on to the position in an election later that year. Outside of her elected role, she works as the Southwest regional planning director for the Washington State Department of Transportation.
She said she plans to endorse Blom as her replacement, citing their prior work together on homelessness issues.
“He has a great depth of knowledge and experience regarding homelessness and affordable housing. In addition, he has compassion for those experiencing distress in our community,” Lebowsky said.
Blom, a real estate agent, had previously served on the Clark County Council. Last year, he lost a bid for re-election after dropping his formal party affiliation; formerly a Republican, he decided to run as an independent candidate in 2020. He was edged out in the primary election by two partisan challengers.
At the time, Blom said he’d dropped his association with the Republican Party because he felt that a municipal government like the county council would be better served by a nonpartisan body. He told The Columbian in May that he didn’t think issues like roads or public safety should be viewed through a Republican or Democratic lens.
“It’s much more in line with the city council, which is a nonpartisan position,” Blom said.
As a county councilor, Blom had served on several local committees, including C-Tran, the Area Agency on Aging and Disability of Southwest Washington, the Washington State Association of Counties Legislative Steering Committee, and the Regional Disaster Preparedness Organization.
He said in his city council campaign announcement that his top priorities are COVID-19 relief and addressing homelessness.
“When driving around Vancouver you can see the growth in homelessness, graffiti and trash. We need to make sure that our community addresses these public safety concerns and focuses on addressing our city’s affordable housing crisis,” Blom said.
Harless Felix currently serves as board president of Slow Food Southwest Washington and Urban Abundance, both food security nonprofits. She is treasurer of the Clark County Food System Council and a member of the Southwest Washington League of United Latin American Citizens.
Harless Felix recently started working as a program coordinator for PaintCare, a paint recycling nonprofit. Prior to that, she’d worked for eight years as an environment operations specialist for Clark County Public Health.
“I will bring leadership that embraces our diversity, unique culture, and empowers the voices of our friends and neighbors,” Harless Felix said. “My lived experiences in this community will bring a unique perspective to the city council that’s not currently represented.”
Lebowsky’s announcement made her the second Vancouver councilor who won’t seek re-election this year.
Councilor Linda Glover, who also serves as the mayor pro tem, won’t run again when her current term expires in November. Two candidates – Glen Yung and Diana Perez – have already launched campaigns for her seat.