Thursday, May 26, 2022
May 26, 2022

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Councils, districts and measures: This off-year election is big

Ballots must be submitted by 8 p.m. Tuesday, Election Day

By , Columbian staff writer
Published:

There are just a few days left to cast your ballot in the Nov. 2 general election. With 35 city council and school, fire, cemetery, port and wastewater districts with open seats, along with 10 ballot measures, this year’s ballot was especially long for an off-year election.

Here are some of the top races:

Vancouver mayor

Mayor Anne McEnerny-Ogle is being challenged for her seat by former Republican Party chair Earl Bowerman. The two candidates fundamentally disagree about what the job is and what it should entail.

McEnerny-Ogle says her role is to represent the city council, as outlined by the city charter. Bowerman wants to adopt a form of local government that redistributes power from professional staff to elected officials.

Bowerman’s top priority is clear-cut. If elected mayor, he said, he’ll seek to provide more funding for law enforcement.

But increasing the ranks of police is more complicated than boosting funding, according to McEnerny-Ogle. Finding good officers is difficult, she said, noting that the department has failed to fill its budgeted capacity of officers since Police Chief James McElvain was hired nearly a decade ago.

Bowerman also wants the city to stop supporting homeless programs, something he said is beyond its purview. McEnerny-Ogle said she and the entire council support the plan to create three supported campsites for unhoused residents operating around the city by the end of the year.

Propositions

Of the 10 propositions on the ballot, nine are specific to amendments to the county’s home rule charter. From changing term lengths for charter committee members to creating five instead of four voting districts, from reducing council salaries to changing elected partisan positions into nonpartisan, the amendments cover a wide range of issues.

The last of the measures, Proposition 10, would create a 0.1 percent sales tax to fund body and dash cameras for the Clark County Sheriff’s Office. The tax would amount to 10 cents for every $100 spent. The new tax would go into effect on April 1, 2022, and expire March 31, 2032.

The Clark County Council, which decided to put the tax decision to voters, said it’s long past time for the law enforcement agency to have body cameras. The county expects the tax increase to raise approximately $6 million per year. It would pay for equipment costs, as well as training, data-storage needs, employees to process public records requests and discovery requests, and additional expenses for the Clark County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office and the indigent defense program, according to a staff report. Additionally, the taxes collected over the 10-year span are expected to cover program expenses for 30 years.

Due to the ballot title, opponents worry that funds from the tax will be used to expand the existing jail or build a new jail, but the county council has vowed to direct the money to camera programs.

School boards

School board members are vying for seats in nearly every district. Battle Ground Public Schools has three open seats. The Camas, Evergreen and Hockinson school districts each have two seats open, and the Green Mountain School District has one.

The La Center and Mount Pleasant school districts also have one position each, but candidates for those seats are running uncontested.

The Mount Pleasant School District has one other seat open, with two candidates on the ballot.

City councils

Not to be outdone by their school districts, city councils in Battle Ground, Camas, La Center Ridgefield, Vancouver, Washougal, Woodland and Yacolt all have seats on the November ballot.

The race for city council in Battle Ground recently drew attention when incumbent Councilor Brian Munson proposed an anti-mask, anti-vaccine “medical freedom” ordinance in September. Munson has been vocal in his opposition to Gov. Jay Inslee’s COVID-19 pandemic mandates, which ultimately drew protesters to the Battle Ground mayor’s home.

Ridgefield, Vancouver, Washougal and Woodland each have two city council seats on the ballot.

Be sure to check Columbian.com on Tuesday evening for election results in these and other races.

Still need your ballot? Head to the Clark County Elections Office at 1408 Franklin St., in Vancouver, between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday and from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday.

Drop your completed, postage-paid ballot in the mail to be postmarked on or before Tuesday. There are 22 permanent ballot drop box sites around the county, which are available 24 hours a day starting 18 days before an election.

All ballots must be dropped off by 8 p.m. on Election Day.

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