Continuing in my assessment of Vancouver, Washington City Council candidates in the 2013 election, the final race is Position 1, currently held by Jack Burkman who is being challenged by Otto M. Guardado, Micheline Doan and Brian Joseph Smith.
For some reason unknown to me, the Position 1 race has not risen to the level of attention that has been directed at the other two seats being challenged, but is just as important on the 7-member city council.
Again, in no particular order of preference;
Burkman is the incumbent, re-winning the seat in 2009 after a multiple year absence to deal with family troubles.
Compared to some of the other city council members, he is relatively quiet, not garnering the focus of others, but don’t let that fool you. He has been a strong supporter of the CRC light rail project, but did take stand against the ill-fated Baseball Stadium proposal a couple years ago, or to be more precise, the proposed admission tax to fund it.
He recently was outspoken on the city of Vancouver maintaining its control on the C-Tran Board over other communities represented on the board and was an employ of WSDOT.
For the most part, he has been down the line with Mayor Tim ‘The Liar’ Leavitt in votes, but to his credit is probably the council member most willing to engage the citizens when it comes to comments on controversial matters covered by the Lazy C (the Columbian) online.
I am disappointed that the Lazy C chose to endorse him alone in the primary, marginalizing the three challengers.
Jack Burkman maintains a quiet, soft spoken demeanor and portrays himself as very reasoned, but too often sticks to the ‘party-line’ of ‘go with the flow’ of other city council members, especially when explaining why Vancouver homeowners property must be increased when their home values and income have decreased.
Although claiming otherwise, he was supportive of ousting the theater group from the Slocum House in early 2012, justifying it as a means to trim the city budget, even though the house was moved to its current location back in the 1960’s by an all-volunteer group specifically for the theater and had been used as such for over five decades.
He was also strongly in support of the city going into debt to purchase the new Columbian building the paper lost when it filed for bankruptcy to move City Hall into, claiming how much money the city would save by taking on more debt for the building.
Disconcerting to me is how he picks and chooses to stand on matters a majority of voters voted for or against.
Otto is a newcomer to our local politics running for the City Council “because residents tell me that they feel unheard by current leadership: unemployment is too high; current and future needs of seniors and children are ignored; and massive public projects are initiated without input from voters.”
He is correct there. For far too long, citizen views contrary to those of city council have either been ignored or minimized, city council supporting the views of what many of us call the ‘downtown mafia’ over that of citizens.
A financial advisor with Ameriprise Financial, he oversees the Otto Guardado Scholarship and is an adjunct instructor at Clark College.
He lists a series of ideas for the city worth considering and favors steps to retain or attract job creation into Vancouver over sending them to Portland via light rail, currently preferred by the incumbent should the CRC succeed in being resurrected.
Some have accused him of not actually living in the city limits, which would disqualify him for city council, based upon his mailing address being listed in Camas, but he in fact is qualified as he lives at the eastern limits of the city and it is the Post Office that lists his address as Camas, not unlike those of us living in Hazel Dell are listed as in Vancouver.
The Lazy C attempts to demean his candidacy with, “we asked how he intends to balance the demands of public service with a full-time job and a large family, his answer reflected a glaring lack of preparation: ‘I don’t know. I have no clear answer to that question’.”
I have to imagine that Jack Burkman, had he been asked in 1998, would have had no idea that he too would have to juggle an important family matter that would necessitate his leaving the city council and the community for a time.
Ms. Doan is the lone challenger that has previously ran for public office, noted by the Lazy C in a demeaning manner and labeling her “a local Republican Party activist” in this “nonpartisan” race while not mentioning numerous involvements by Jack Burkman with the local Democrat Party over the years or that in his bid for the state legislature in 2006 as a Democrat, he lost in the primary to Pat Campbell, who also lost to Republican Jim Dunn but later won a seat on the city council, only to lost it after one term.
Parity is not the Lazy C’s strong suit.
Micheline is fairly well known in the community for her efforts as President of the Clark County Republican Women’s Organization for five years, Vice President of The Parkway’s HOA for two years, organization fundraising for Babies In Need and more.
She brings a conservative view of the issues facing our city as well as a respectable list of endorsements.
She says, “As a council person I will always encourage the right of the Vancouver citizens to vote on monetary issues that will affect not only them but their children and grandchildren” adding one of her reasons for running, “There are decisions being made by our City Council that concern me and I believe in order to reverse this course we will need to change the council.”
We have all seen the efforts of the current city council under Mayor Leavitt to ram through the CRC light rail project as well as silence citizen opposition, except for the voices of Bill Turlay and Jeanne E. Stewart.
Micheline brings well rounded experience with her in dealings around the community that places her on par with any of the candidates.
He is one of the original board members of the Old Evergreen Highway Neighborhood Association that has been “fighting for proper maintenance for decades,” now turning their focus towards sidewalks.
He cites frustration with the current city council over citizens being denied a vote in the hopefully defunct CRC light rail project and the lack of seeking citizen input in other matters, such as widening Lower Ellsworth to accommodate safe bicycle usage among his reasons for running.
Considering himself a Communications Engineer, with a background in sales and operations, he lists a steady employment history and even though his campaign may be a little more low key than others, he is out there campaigning more on social media than I see others trying to.
Whether or not any of that translates into a winning candidacy will be known after Aug 6.
That wraps up my assessment of Vancouver’s city council races this election.
After the primary we will see who survives and who we wish to serve on the city council, hopefully someone more interested in citizens than appeasing downtown special interests.
Also after the primary, focus will shift considerably towards the coming Mayor’s race between incumbent Tim ‘The Liar’ Leavitt and City Council member Bill Turlay.
I urge you all to look closely at each candidate and make sure to vote so we can have the best representation sitting on city council.