Here’s your chance to get a look at what the candidates for District 3 Clark County Commissioner are working on for the business communities of Southwest Washington. Because there are only two candidates, they will go straight to the general election in November.
STEVE STUART is a current Clark County Commissioner and former executive director of Urban Reserve, Vancouver.
Our businesses are the lifeblood of our community – they provide jobs and services for our residents and lessen the load on our transportation infrastructure by keeping people working close to home.
Flowery words aren’t going to help employers turn around our jobs deficit, though. As your County Commissioner, I’ve focused on results – not rhetoric. In my first eight months on the job, here are just a few of the projects I’ve actively been working on to get results for the business community:
• Re-open the growth plan, to provide more buildable land where and how businesses need it, with road systems that support businesses instead of cutting them off.
• Clearly define our role in job development and how that fits with our partners in the ports, cities and private sector. Going it alone, we lose employers to better-organized regions. Together, we have a great package to sell.
• Save businesses front-end costs and get them online faster by streamlining permitting processes and creating shovel-ready sites through appropriate zoning, targeted investment in roads, and programmatic EIS work.
• Focus our public investment in areas ripe for increased job development, like the Salmon Creek Research Park area, where I’m working with Washington State University Vancouver and health care sector partners.
Clark County is at a turning point. Will we plan for the past, or the future? I’m working tirelessly to plan ahead, for a county where employers want to come and employees have an opportunity to stay.
TOM MIELKE is a former small businessman and four-term state representative.
For a commissioner, a key question involves the effects of our decisions on the business climate of Clark County. A hostile business environment here results in greater reliance on the Portland area for employment opportunities adding greater pressures on our transportation infrastructure, particularly the interstate bridges and highway systems.
Every decision affecting business has a ripple effect that requires consideration before we act. Are our regulations realistic? Does our county’s business fee structure overly inhibit business growth and development? Is our permitting process so arduous and unnecessarily complicated that people become discouraged from starting businesses?
I believe that each county agency should serve a specific and necessary service, with a view towards eliminating redundancy, streamlining permitting and licensing processes and working towards the lean, efficient and effective government that we all deserve.
These are the areas that most concern me. County government should exist, in large part, to encourage business start-ups while simultaneously working with existing business to address the unnecessary obstacles that impede progress in these areas. The result is a stronger economy.
My philosophy is to do everything I can for a more self-contained economy within Clark County, one increasingly less reliant on Oregon as a source of jobs and economic development.
My vision and a priority for Clark County includes developing a competitive climate for enticing clean industries to site here with all the benefits that accrue. We need to identify and foster those conditions that enable business to thrive on this side of the river.