Although filing week for candidates planning to run for office in November is still more than a month away, three Clark County residents have already thrown their hat in the ring for county council seats.
Former state Sen. Don Benton plans to run for the currently vacant District 5 seat. Benton was among seven county residents to recently apply for the District 5 vacancy. He was not selected by Council Chair Karen Bowerman for an interview.
Although Benton, a Republican, was elected to both the state House of Representatives and Senate, he is likely best known for being terminated from his role as the county’s director of environmental services in 2016. Benton and two other former county staffers successfully sued the county for wrongful termination and were awarded about $1.4 million in September 2021.
Benton is also known for his connections to former President Donald Trump. Benton served as Trump’s Washington state campaign chairman during the 2016 election and in April 2017 was appointed by Trump as director of the Selective Service System, a position he held until President Joe Biden’s inauguration.
Former Vancouver mayoral candidate Douglas Coop will run for the District 1 council seat currently held by Councilor Temple Lentz.
According to Coop, he is running to bring “family, freedom and safety” to the county. Coop said Clark County families are being squeezed financially by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and federal, state and county mandates and need relief from taxes.
“Clark County has the highest median (property) tax liability in the U.S. That should not be. I’ve seen my taxes go up $3,000 this year,” Coop said on Thursday. (According to the nonprofit Tax Foundation, six counties in the state of New York have the highest median property tax rate.)
Coop also said the county needs to spend the millions of dollars in American Rescue Plan Act funds it has received from the federal government to address the county’s rising homelessness and crime.
Michelle Bourret-Belkot, who previously ran for a Vancouver Public Schools board seat in 2021, will run for the District 2 seat currently held by Councilor Julie Olson.
Bourret-Belkot has over 20 years of experience in construction and engineering procurement, is a U.S. Navy veteran and holds a bachelor’s degree from George Fox University and master’s from Webster University.
According to information she provided for the 2021 Voters Guide, she has volunteered more than 1,000 hours of community service in schools and at St. Joseph Catholic Church.