Clark County will decide on Council Chair position

Number of candidates drops from four to three after Christy Stanley bows out and endorses Eric Holt

Council Chair candidates

With only a few days left until the Aug. 7 Primary and Special Election in Clark County, residents still have time to put in their vote for who will be the next Clark County Council Chair.

Up until July 21, the race for Council Chair was a four-person race until candidate Christy Stanley, who was running as a Democrat, announced that she was suspending her campaign to endorse candidate Eric Holt, also running as a Democrat.

“After meeting and talking with party officials and with Mr. Holt, I’ve concluded that we share viewpoints on the issues and so, for this reason, I firmly believe he is the right choice for Clark County,” Stanley said in a statement posted on her Facebook page on July 21.

With Stanley out of the race, three candidates are still competing for the position of Council Chair – Eric Holt (prefers Democratic party), Marc Boldt (current Council Chair, states no party preference) and Eileen Quiring (prefers Republican party).

The Vancouver Business Journal recently asked the three candidates six questions focused on business and economic issues in Clark County. Here are the questions and answers from each of the three candidates.

VBJ: What do you think is the biggest obstacle that business owners in the Clark County area are currently facing? What ideas/plans do you have to help with whatever this obstacle is if you are elected as Council Chair?

Marc Boldt: “The biggest challenge is regulation, taxes and fees. Most of which come from the state and federal government. What Clark County can do is to provide for good roads, parks and schools for employees. Also to give the best service when a business comes in for development. Also to provide land for housing to make affordable housing for employees.”

Eileen Quiring: “There may be various policy issues that inhibit business owners, but one that my constituents have been most vocal about is our permitting and development process. In 2017 we hired a consultant (Citygate) to investigate the process and they made several recommendations. I am committed to making sure that those recommendations are implemented. I am committed to ensuring (along with the County Manager) that our permitting and development processes are streamlined, predictable and timely.”

Eric Holt: “I believe the biggest obstacle is finding qualified and reliable workers to fill all of the positions available. I will continue to support tech/trades training through WorkSource and Cascadia Technical Academy, as well as union apprenticeships. We need to find ways that the state and county can support small businesses in raising the offered wages to attract talented individuals to work in our county and not across the river.”

VBJ: How do you plan to work to bring more living-wage jobs to the Clark County area and encourage people to work where they live?

Boldt: “To provide land for economic development and have the courage to keep the zoning from going to housing. And when business comes get out of their way and serve them.”

Quiring: “The county owns a 33-mile-long railroad line (Chelatchie Prairie Railroad) and a bill passed in the Washington Legislature in 2017 (SB 5517 – amending the GMA), has given us a “golden opportunity” to develop land on this rail line for industrial uses. CREDC has a list of interested rail-dependent manufacturing companies that would create hundreds and in some cases thousands of jobs when the land along this rail line is available for development. I have been working on this since the passage of the bill to bring it to fruition. It is important that we do this right for the future of Clark County so that our residents can work where they live.”

Holt: “I suggest we work closely with the CREDC and cities in the county to offer available industrial land and other incentives to encourage companies who provide living wage jobs to build and expand in Clark County.”
VBJ: What are your thoughts/views on Oregon’s tolling plans?

Boldt: “Unless it addresses the I-5 bridge it is just more revenue for Oregon.”

Quiring: “I am in complete opposition to the tolling scheme that Oregon has proposed. This disproportionately affects 70,000-plus daily commuters that travel to Oregon for their jobs and pay income taxes, with little or no benefit (no additional capacity is planned). Although Oregonians may think that Southwest Washingtonians must pay a user fee for these roads, they forget that many probably purchase gas in Oregon, which already goes toward roads.”

Holt: “I disagree with across the board tolling, but I realize that Oregon needs to raise revenue to rebuild their infrastructure just as we do. I would like to see any tolls levied, to be kept south of the Rose Quarter and only during peak times of travel. This will have the least impact on Clark County residents.”

VBJ: With the lack of affordable housing continuing in the Clark County area, what are some ideas/plans you have to help with this issue as more and more affordable housing is needed?

Boldt: “To start soon on a new growth plan with a reasonable population estimate to increase the size of the growth boundary, which will stabilize land prices. This also keeps permits out faster and at a reasonable amount of money.”

Quiring: “Require the use of a more accurate population forecast as well as the available vacant buildable land for housing when updating the Comprehensive Plan for the county. Lower the impact fees on housing construction. We created new policy (and code language) for Accessory Dwelling Units county-wide, and for cottage housing (using less land for smaller housing in a cluster). We must make sure that our permitting process is predictable and streamlined.”

Holt: “Clark County and the surrounding cities should work with the Building Industry Association and others to develop a plan to increase the number of multi-family residences inside the Urban Growth Boundary. I am talking about attractive, green, and sustainable efficient and modern flats equipped with solar panels on top and walking gardens instead of traditional landscaping.”

VBJ: There is currently a shortage of workers in the construction and manufacturing fields. How do you plan to help direct and encourage more people to take jobs in those fields?

Boldt: “Work with the schools as well as our workforce employment agency.”

Quiring: “Opportunities to learn the trades in our local school districts would seem to be optimal. I sit on the Workforce SW Washington Board. They fund programs that help people get jobs and offers training to obtain work (displaced workers as well). They also offer help and training for young adults between the ages of 15-24 without high school diplomas to get their GEDs and assess their skills and career interests then find training or a job. These and other young folks could be excellent candidates for training in the trades to help our workforce.”

Holt: “I would continue to support tech/trades training through WorkSource and Cascadia Technical Academy, as well as union apprenticeships, and I would encourage those previously mentioned to reach out to additional high schools to recruit early and build relationships with students destined for work in the trades.”

VBJ: How do you plan to make sure Clark County is able to properly keep up with the growth of housing and economic development in the area?

Boldt: “Work on the foundation for a new growth plan.”

Quiring: “As stated in my answers to question 2 and question 4.”

Holt: “We must continue to keep an accurate temperature of the current economic growth of our county and plan accordingly. The housing market has already begun to slow in some areas. We need to continue to encourage smart steady growth and avoid economic ‘booms,’ which are usually followed fairly rapidly with economic ‘busts.’ A steadily growing economy and housing market is good, inflation and recession are the hallmarks of a poorly managed economy.”

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Joanna Yorke is the managing editor of the Vancouver Business Journal. She has worked in the journalism field since 2010 after graduating from the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University in Pullman. Yorke worked at The Reflector Newspaper in Battle Ground for six years and then worked at and helped start ClarkCountyToday.com.