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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: Perez clear choice for Vancouver council Pos. 3

The Columbian
Published: October 5, 2021, 6:03am

Through years of community involvement, Diana Perez has attained the knowledge and built the relationships that make for an effective leader. The Columbian’s Editorial Board recommends Perez for Position 3 on the Vancouver City Council.

As always, this is merely a recommendation designed to foster discussion, but Perez appears to be the clear choice in a race against David Gellatly. The Columbian trusts that voters will study the candidates before casting an informed vote for the Nov. 2 general election. Incumbent Linda Glover is not seeking reelection to the nonpartisan council.

Although Perez has never held elected office, she has worked to improve our community. She served on the Stronger Vancouver committee and is on the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission and the board of the Clark County Volunteer Lawyers Program. She is immediate past state director of the League of United Latin American Citizens and has received awards from numerous local organizations. “Public service is in my DNA,” she told the Editorial Board during an interview prior to the August primary.

As The Columbian wrote editorially: “Perez’s civic involvement has given her a strong vision for the future of Vancouver. She deftly examines issues from a broad perspective and is able to offer comprehensive answers that go beyond the talking points typically provided by candidates. In speaking about addressing homelessness, she mentions the role that zoning regulations play in building affordable housing; in speaking about police reform, she mentions the importance of having detailed data on traffic stops.”

On her campaign website, Perez writes, “Because I know our community and its priorities, I pledge to focus my campaign on families, jobs, recovery and opportunities.” She then includes detailed plans for addressing the issues facing Vancouver.

Gellatly lists his top priorities as addressing homelessness with “compassion and accountability”; attracting and supporting businesses that create family-wage jobs; and listening to constituents.

Gellatly opposes the city’s plan for dedicated campsites to address homelessness, instead suggesting a tiered approach that begins by making contact with homeless people at a day center or shelter. “You can move people through the system to get them back on their feet,” he said. “It’s not compassionate to let these camps be the way they are.”

Perez supports campsites as an initial response, but says affordable housing is the long-term solution. “We must make it pencil out for our residents and our developers when we’re looking at affordability, and we can do that,” she said.

When it comes to policing, both candidates support the implementation of body cameras for officers. Gellatly opposes cuts to police funding, while pointing to increased violence in Portland. “That’s knocking at our door, and we don’t want to meet the failed policies of Portland,” he said. Perez stresses the need for more mental health intervention in law-enforcement response.

While the city council is nonpartisan, it should be mentioned that Gellatly previously was chair of the Clark County Republican Party and ran last year for Republican precinct committee officer.

Regardless of party preferences, Perez is the superior candidate for the nonpartisan city council. Her vast community involvement gives her superior insight to Vancouver’s people and issues and will make her an effective council member.

The Columbian’s Editorial Board recommends Diana Perez for Vancouver City Council, Position 3.