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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: Erik Paulsen best for Vancouver City Council, Pos. 2

The Columbian
Published: October 1, 2021, 6:03am

In the election for Position 2 on the Vancouver City Council, incumbent Erik Paulsen’s experience and thoughtful demeanor stand out. The Columbian’s Editorial Board recommends Paulsen for reelection to the nonpartisan position.

As always, this is merely a recommendation. The Columbian encourages voters to study the candidates and the issues before casting an informed ballot. Information about candidates can be found through The Columbian’s coverage of the election, the candidates’ websites and the online Voters’ Pamphlet. Ballots for the Nov. 2 general election will be mailed Oct. 15 and must be returned or postmarked by Election Day.

In studying the race between Paulsen and Kara Tess, voters will find two candidates with similar perspectives. During an interview with the Editorial Board prior to the August primary, they expressed congruent positions on issues such as pandemic recovery, climate change and homelessness.

But there is a vast difference in their history of community involvement. 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 told the Editorial Board this year: “I’m neither an ideologue nor a firebrand. I seek broad perspectives.”

While some candidates can be prone to overly generous self-evaluations, Paulsen has lived up to that personal assessment. He spent years serving the community while developing an understanding of the issues facing residents, 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.”

Regarding approval for the creation of bike lanes on Columbia Street near downtown, Paulsen said: “It was a flawed process because we were under a time constraint.”

Commenting on plans for redevelopment in the Heights district, he said: “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.

Tess is a 20-year resident of Clark County and we congratulate her for stepping up to challenge a sitting city councilor. But her understanding of the issues is not as broad as Paulsen’s.

Tess stresses that she is not accepting campaign donations and told the Editorial Board: “I don’t take any donations from anybody. I can’t be swayed. There’s no reason why I’m not here to fight for the people. I’m not afraid to learn, and I’m definitely always open to listen.”

Those are admirable traits, but Paulsen’s involvement in the community is reflected in the expansive roster of endorsements he has received from current and former elected officials and community leaders. As he told the Editorial Board: “This is a pivotal moment in Vancouver, and we need thoughtful leaders who understand our community.”

Vancouver has one of those in Erik Paulsen. The Columbian’s Editorial Board recommends that he be reelected to Position 2 on the city council.