While both the port and county races serve up strong candidates, those focused on balanced economic development should prevail
Two of this fall’s political races have long ranging consequences for how business is conducted in Clark County. The Vancouver Business Journal has met with the challengers for both the Port of Vancouver and Clark County commissioner races. Both races present candidates who are qualified and demonstrate a clear excitement and passion for the respective positions.
Brian Wolfe and Bill Hughes vie for the position of Commissioner for the Port of Vancouver.
Hughes spent much of his career in the maritime and transportation industries with a heavy emphasis on the movement of freight via rail. Hughes has also negotiated for and conducted business on an international level and appears most comfortable and focused on the operations of the port and the attraction of jobs to the community through development at the port.
Brian Wolfe, in his practice of law over the last 36 years, has represented businesses of all sizes, been council to two local governments and helped found the Columbia River Economic Development Council. Wolfe seems most comfortable in policy making and long range planning roles.
While both have a strong sense of the Port’s critical needs, neither have been close enough to the inner workings of the Port to offer specific solutions.
Port Commissioner Nancy Baker brings expertise to the operations of the port as a former staffer. Commissioner Arch Miller brings a rich, entrepreneurial business background to the commission.
We endorse Brian Wolfe because we believe he will complement the current port commission with his focus on government process and vast experience in local economic development.
The Clark County Commissioner race between former State Representative Tom Mielke and incumbent County Commissioner Steve Stuart offers significant distinction between the candidates. Mielke is lifelong local business owner and recent politico. Stuart is current commissioner with vast experience and education in land use issues. Both demonstrate desire and enthusiasm for the position.
Stuart approaches the job with a foundation of education, work experience and the confidence of having done the job for the last year. Stuart relies on his experience in project management as he discusses streamlining the county’s efforts toward more efficient delivery of service. In considering the issues around land use, urban growth and economic development Stuart offers up a list of both educational and professional credentials supporting solutions.
Mielke relies on eight years in the State House of Representatives during which he sat on land use and transportations committees.
On the contentious I-912 these two candidates are at odds. Mielke is frustrated with the current legislature’s continued use of "user funded" taxation as a method of funding transportation and maintains that transportation must have a more direct funding mechanism. He supports I-912.
Stuart rather looks to the gas tax projects as the fuel for an expanding economy the county needs to thrive. He sees dedicated transportation routes as the number one avenue to efficient job creation. He opposes I-912.
We believe Stuart has a much better sense of balance and priority for what the county’s challenges are and of the consequences various decisions will bring. For that reason we believe Clark County will be best served by the return of Steve Stuart to the commission.