VANCOUVER — Vancouver city councilmember Anne McEnerny-Ogle has a short break sandwiched between the end of a city council workshop that ran into overtime and the start of a regular city council meeting that is quickly filling up with police officers and business leaders.
Most of McEnerny-Ogle’s colleagues on the Vancouver City Council have taken this time to grab a quick dinner or stretch their legs.
Instead of joining them, McEnerny-Ogle is sitting in the back of the council chambers, discussing her bid to be Vancouver’s next mayor with the sort of enthusiasm normally reserved for people who haven’t known the tough realities of running a political campaign.
Of course, McEnerny-Ogle is no stranger to local politics. She is a five-year veteran of the the Vancouver Planning Commission, has long been involved in various neighborhood associations, chaired Vancouver’s Shumway Neighborhood Alliance for 16 years, and — before winning her 2013 bid to become a member of the Vancouver City Council — experienced the pain of losing two city council campaigns in 2009 and 2011.
“Each election has its own personality,” McEnerny-Ogle says, reflecting on those first two city council campaigns and on her two years on the Vancouver City Council. “When the opportunity came up a third time, I said, ‘Yes, let’s try this again,’ and I won and I’ve loved it.”
Follow Vancouver City Councilmember Anne McEnerny-Ogle as she visits Columbia Springs on Evergreen Highway. Video courtesy of City of Vancouver.
Now, McEnerny-Ogle is throwing her hat into the campaign cycle once again. This time, she hopes to lead the city of Vancouver as its next mayor.
She announced her bid for mayor on Mon., Jan. 2, at a breakfast held inside the Vancouver Firefighters Local 452 union hall, in front of a crowd of supporters. Before launching into a campaign speech that discussed Vancouver’s need for living wage jobs and how the city might end its structural deficit to better fund the government’s essential services, McEnerny-Ogle told the crowd about her family’s longtime commitment to the city of Vancouver.
“Vancouver is our home … we have been trying our best to improve it, to make it better than we found it, ” she said. “Many of us worked in neighborhoods and remember the old schools, the old fire stations, places without parks, without sidewalks and dim streetlights and, yes, I know we have a few of those things left, but those things are improving and city residents and businesses have been helping us identify those problems and that’s why we’re here, to solve those problems.”
The primary election for Vancouver’s next mayor will be held in August of 2017 and the general election is in November of 2017. Current Vancouver Mayor Tim Leavitt, whose term ends Dec. 31, 2017, has said he is not running for reelection.
Lifelong love of learning leads to political career
McEnerny-Ogle, 63, and her husband, Terry Ogle, are both retired teachers. She spent 30 years teaching math in Lake Oswego and John taught for many years in the Battle Ground School District. Together, they raised their son John in Vancouver and McEnerny-Ogle fell in love with the idea of bettering the immediate world that surrounded her family’s home in Vancouver.
“We started by planting trees. That was about 23 years ago,” she says. “And then we started working on a park because we didn’t have a park close to us. So I learned about government that way … by asking questions: How do you acquire land for a park? How do you apply for grants?”
The questions led McEnerny-Ogle deeper and deeper into the maze of local politics and, before she knew it, she was sitting on the Vancouver Planning Commission, learning even more about what makes local government tick.
Video courtesy Anne for Mayor Facebook Page.
As a city councilmember and Vancouver’s mayor pro tem, McEnerny-Ogle often fills in for Mayor Leavitt when he is absent and is voice of reason for many issues facing the city today. She worries about unfunded state and federal mandates and the city’s structural deficit and about how Vancouver will come up with a long-term strategy for funding essential city services like police and parks and transportation.
“I’d spend decades putting pieces together as a teacher, so I loved it,” McEnerny-Ogle says. “I wanted to know how everything worked. I always wanted my students to be lifelong learners, and that’s what I was doing. Being on all of the task forces and understanding how one department affects another … I love it. It’s all new and exciting. It’s like I’m back in college!”
“I find the great thing in this world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving.” ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes
Inside the Vancouver City Council chambers at Vancouver City Hall, a quote by Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. hangs on one wall: “I find the great thing in this world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving.”
McEnerny-Ogle points to the quote when talking about her vision for the future of Vancouver and says she’s also interested in how the government moves in one direction versus another.
“What happens if we get way off at the beginning of a decision and, in the end, we’re far away from where we need to be?” she asks. “In my mind, I want to see us start at the beginning, to get all the players together and know who will be impacted and who needs to be involved.”
Taking those extra steps at the beginning of the process can help the city avoid being totally off-course in the future, McEnerny-Ogle says.
If you watch her in action, you can see this theory come to life.
On the city council, McEnerny-Ogle often sits back and listens to the various opinions and thoughts of everyone else before adding her own two cents to the conversation. And McEnerny-Ogle seems more than willing to put in the time it takes to sit on advisory boards, chair community groups and wrangle volunteers to help keep city government moving.
“We have 60-odd neighborhood associations in Vancouver and I’ve met with all but seven of them, because some of them only meet maybe once a year,” McEnerny-Ogle says. “These are the people who want to work on projects to help the city. They want to build new parks and clean up trash and remove graffiti … this is what I love about Vancouver. Everyone wants to help. There’s this attitude here that if we can do a little bit, if we can pitch in to help each other out, then we can get things done.”