Battle Ground City Council letter urges governor for more local control

The letter, approved at an emergency meeting on Thursday, says the city needs to open sooner to prevent businesses from going under

BATTLE GROUND — During an emergency virtual meeting held Thursday afternoon, members of the Battle Ground City Council unanimously agreed to send a letter, written by Mayor Adrian Cortes, to the office of Washington Gov. Jay Inslee.

Battle Ground City Council holds an emergency meeting via Zoom Thursday evening to approve a letter to Gov. Jay Inslee asking for more local control over reopening businesses. Photo by Chris Brown
Battle Ground City Council holds an emergency meeting via Zoom Thursday evening to approve a letter to Gov. Jay Inslee asking for more local control over reopening businesses. Photo by Chris Brown

The 398-word letter urges the governor to consider the economic fallout of the ongoing stay-at-home order, which has been extended through May 31.

“We appreciate your efforts and leadership in dealing with the pandemic, but I fear that the efforts are not sufficient to deal with the fallout,” the letter reads. “Our local economy is suffering. Businesses are closing for good, and those that are attempting to remain open are faced with escalating debt and no clear idea when things will return to ‘normal.’”

During the emergency meeting, Councilor Mike Dalesandro expressed his support for an effort to urge the governor to cede more control to local governments in moving through the phases of reopening.

“The one-size-fits-all approach, it’s just not practical for our state and for our community,” Dalesandro said, noting that Clark County currently doesn’t meet the governor’s requirements to apply for a waiver to move to the next phase more quickly. “You do everything right and it really won’t matter in the grand scheme of things.”

While supporting the sending of the letter, Councilor Brian Munson wondered if it would be enough to get the governor’s attention.

Quoting from a story in Clark County Today, Munson noted the frustration of Vancouver Republican Rep. Brandon Vick, who joined three other lawmakers this week in taking legal action against the governor’s order.

“Really, at the end of the day, if a legislator can’t even get a response, and he’s up there, why is a small city of 21,000 gonna even get a consideration?” Munson asked.

Councilor Shane Bowman said he’s hopeful the letter might encourage other elected officials throughout the state to follow suit, urging the governor to cede more local control.

“Enough of us start saying that, maybe we can get some change,” Bowman said, “or maybe we can get him to sit down.”

Battle Ground Mayor Adrian Cortes speaks during an emergency Battle Ground City Council meeting over Zoom on Thursday. Cortes received approval to send a letter to Gov. Jay Inslee urging more local control amid the ongoing stay-at-home order. Photo by Chris Brown
Battle Ground Mayor Adrian Cortes speaks during an emergency Battle Ground City Council meeting over Zoom on Thursday. Cortes received approval to send a letter to Gov. Jay Inslee urging more local control amid the ongoing stay-at-home order. Photo by Chris Brown

“It’s a first salvo, if you will, to the governor,” added Cortes. “My hope is that, like Council Member Bowman said, this is a first that creates the momentum for other jurisdictions to follow in the footsteps of, and creates a momentum to start to begin those discussions.”

Cortes said he has had numerous discussions with local business owners worried they will be unable to stay open past the next week or two, let alone several months.

“We recognize the significant public health concerns around COVID-19 and we continue to advocate for sensible measures to help mitigate those health impacts on our community,” the letter reads. “However, staying the course will cause more Washingtonians to lose jobs, lose their ability to pay for basic needs to support their families, and will undoubtedly create irreversible impacts that will far out live the pandemic.”

This sign on a truck in Battle Ground captures the feelings of many business owners facing closure amid the ongoing stay-at-home order from Gov. Jay Inslee. Photo courtesy Troy McCoy
This sign on a truck in Battle Ground captures the feelings of many business owners facing closure amid the ongoing stay-at-home order from Gov. Jay Inslee. Photo courtesy Troy McCoy

Munson suggested City Manager Erin Erdman look into creating a framework for how businesses in the city could reopen, ahead of the governor’s current schedule.

“Your letter’s there, but we’re not telling him ‘this is who we are, this is how we get back on our feet sooner than later,’” Munson said. “We have businesses that need to be open weeks ago, there’s no reason they shouldn’t have been up and running.”

The council agreed to bring the topic back up for discussion at their next meeting, currently scheduled for May 18, to include details on what an accelerated reopening schedule would look like. 

In the meantime, they hope other cities and counties will follow their lead in taking action to urge the governor to sit down and consider their plight.

“I want to be clear, I’m not advocating for breaking the current rules. I think that we have to be real clear about that,” added Dalesandro. “We want to follow the orders, but what we’re asking the governor for is a policy change, and to give local jurisdictions more control.”

Click to open PDF.

About The Author

Chris Brown comes to Clark County Today with 15 years of local news experience as a reporter, editor, and anchor at KXL News Radio and KOIN-6 TV in Portland. In 2016, he won an Oregon Association of Broadcaster's award for Best Investigative Reporting for a series on America's Violent Youth. He has also been awarded by the Associated Press for Best Breaking News coverage as editor of Portland's Morning News following the 2015 school shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. The second oldest of eight home-schooled children, Brown graduated from high school two years early. After several odd jobs, he earned an internship at KXL Radio, eventually working his way into a full-time job. Brown has lived in Clark County his entire life, and is very excited at the opportunity to now focus full-time on the significant stories happening in his own back yard, rather than across “the river.’’ After a few years in Vancouver, he recently moved back to Battle Ground with his wife and two young daughters. When he's not working to report what's happening in Clark County, Brown enjoys spending time with his family, playing music, taking pictures, or working in the yard. He also actually does enjoy long walks on the beach, and sunsets.

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