Hector Hinojosa and Glen Yung are vying for the position in the Nov. 8 general election
The League of Women Voters of Clark County is hosting a series of candidate forums in advance of the Nov. 8 general election. On Monday, the League held the first event in the series at the Vancouver Community Library.
Among the three races featured at the first event was the race for the District 1 seat on the Clark County Council. Current District 1 Councilor Temple Lentz did not seek reelection. Hector Hinojosa and Glen Yung advanced from the August top two primary and are the candidates on the general election ballot.
For the video of Monday’s candidate forum, go to cvtv.org.
Here are the questions asked by moderator Amy Easton and the candidate’s responses from Monday’s forum:
Why do you want to be a council member? What issues are most important to you? And what skills and abilities would you bring to the position?
Yung: I will say as a candidate, the hardest thing to accomplish is to reach citizens and to be able to deliver our message. And so this venue and this avenue where we can do that is very much appreciated. I don’t have enough time to introduce myself, and give a bit about my history and my background. So what I would like to do is invite each of you after the meeting to go to my website glen4council.com. In that way, you can study a little bit more, but just to give a little bit of a taste of who I am. What I plan to bring to the county is my background in finance and construction as well as many boards and commissions I have sat on.in the city.
Hinojosa: I also cannot possibly introduce myself and all the things I’ve done in our community in 60 seconds, so I invite everyone to visit my website hector4countycouncil.com. I will say that many organizations I’ve joined in our community, and in many instances founded, exist in our community to fix problems. Fix the problems of the underrepresented and the neglected. So my priorities are affordable housing for all public health, safety, environmental sustainability, which are all tied together very tightly, and transportation issues that plague our community.
How would you rank the top three areas that you would prioritize for county funds? Please explain.
Hinojosa: As I stated, affordable housing is incredibly important to all our community. We all need a secure and stable place to live. And we need to intentionally preserve, expand and diversify our housing stock for all levels of affordability and a broader range of so that a broader range of people can live in our community. We can also avoid displacement of current residents as far as public safety and environmental issues. Communities should support the right of individuals and backgrounds to live safe, secure, and healthy lives, environmentally sustainable communities. To protect the mutual resources, and provide clean and water, protect our water and air, which improve our health outcomes to all of us in our community.
Yung: Public safety, public safety, public safety. That is what we need in Clark County. We are living in a Clark County that we’ve never experienced before. We’re seeing challenges happening all around us. We’re seeing break-ins, are seeing thefts. We’re seeing stolen catalytic converters, I’ve had my own stolen and had my truck broken into recently. So we have got to focus on making sure that we fund our public services properly and that we have it structured in a way that it’s effective and keeping our citizens safe. That’s what it’s there for. That’s what we need to prioritize our funds for. But we do need to have an overall large discussion as a community as to the overall place that the county is when it comes to financing. Where do we have holes? What holes do we need to fill? And where are we going to find those dollars? And it’s got to be a community-led discussion with everybody involved in a very transparent process.
What solutions would you bring to the county to address the issue of homelessness?
Yung: I worked very closely with the city and with Jamie Spinelli. She’s the homeless resources coordinator for the city. It is such an in-depth problem that it’s going to take the community as a whole and all jurisdictions that are involved, that being the Sheriff’s Office, like the county, the city, the VPD, everybody’s going to have to be involved. We’ve got to have mental health services in our community. We’ve got to have health services available. We’ve got to have drug treatment available. And the city is heading in a very good trajectory in creating spaces in the city where crime is being reduced in those areas that they’re focusing on. They’re providing homes, places for individuals in our community that are struggling and living on our streets to be able to have a roof over their head and it creates a space that can help them stabilize their lives and begin on the path of recovery. The path of finding housing, whatever that path is, whatever that thing, that issue was that led to their homelessness to begin with, they can now begin to work on it.
Hinojosa: The law authorizes counties to establish programs and find funding for helping with homelessness and affordable housing. Vancouver’s leading the way in providing these types of services and wraparound services. So, I am personally involved in developing a nonprofit to build small affordable houses for the homeless and for very low income folks. We will build 21 homes with another 10 down within the next six months. The county and cities have signed a Memorandum of Agreement and formed AICHO, the (American) Indian Community Homeless Organization, which essentially creates a community where everyone has a safe, stable place to call home. It has no paid staff and cannot tax or spend money – simply advise. I hope AICHO will take the successes that are happening around their county and find ways to steer county funding toward helping.
How would you take advantage of new federal funds for urban forestry?
Hinojosa: Urban forestry, the urban tree canopy provides multiple benefits for our citizens from the aesthetic beauty of trees to the health benefits brought by the sequestration of carbon, the production of oxygen, and the cooling shading effects on houses and commercial buildings, sidewalks and recreation areas. Keeping as many trees and landscape are a vital component of any construction that we do and improves the livability of our community.
Yung: I think the first thing that we could do is come up with a great plan. You know, our strategic plan and comprehensive plan that really dictates where we want our development to take place in our county and how we want it to develop out. And there’s going to be a balance that’s going to have to be struck between new development, because we have people that want to live here, and then a balance between our trees and our environment. The biggest thing is doing our best so that we can retain what we already have, and facilitating ways that we can increase on that. And where development does take place, that we ensure that adequate trees are planted. But again, it comes down to the planning. If you don’t have a goal, if you don’t have a plan there, you’re not going to be able to get there. And our county right now is really lacking a lot of that comprehensive planning and where we want our development to go and how we want it to happen and all these environmental issues that follow along with it.
How would you address conflicting opinions from the public and the public health officer as you make decisions that affect our residents?
Yung: I feel like our public health department is something that has always existed that people only now really only know exists because we went through a very polarized environment in the last few years. I think we have learned a lot about our public health. I think we’ve learned that public health is a whole lot more than just vaccines or just masks, things like that, but they work with our health department. And we have a public health crisis among us right now, with our homelessness issue. We have people that are living in very much less than humane conditions on our streets, and we need to get those individuals housed in the care that they need. And so our public health department, it is very vital to our community. And when you have, it’s going to happen, we’re going to have times where there’s disagreement, and it just has to be a full community discussion. Everybody listened to, nobody excluded from the conversation.
Hinojosa: In the organizations that I’m a part of, helping both the homeless and the underrepresented, and civil rights of our community, the health department has been providing very helpful assistance, been very collaborative and spot on getting folks in for testing and vaccinating people with limited resources, with delayed response from the federal government. I saw County Health Department personnel go above and beyond to help our community. I want to be sure that we fund and support our health department to provide more and improve services for our community. We cannot do without the health department in this county. And they provide a huge service to our citizens.
One of the county’s largest departments is community services providing services for the most vulnerable. Do you believe this department is adequately financed? Why or why not?
Hinojosa: County wide, we have approximately 200 or more vacancies including the services department. I believe that we’re underfunding things that we require as a community. And we should make every effort to make sure that we have enough personnel, enough services and enough supplies.
Yung: I think we are seeing across all departments in our county, a struggle that we’re dealing with, and that is that we are shedding staff left and right. We can’t retain them. We are not funding our departments appropriately. They are not incentivized to stay. We’re losing. I’m absolutely amazed at the amount of talent that we’ve lost just to the city of Vancouver. Not that I don’t want the city of Vancouver to have great people. But, Clark County needs to retain those well-trained and important employees that we have, that know how to do their job and they know how to do it well. We’ve got to make sure that we stay competitive. So the answer to that is no, we’re not adequately funding. And it just ripples through every single department in our county. We have really been starving our public services of the resources that they need to be successful in our county.
The county recently passed a resolution to transfer oversight of the jail from the sheriff to the county council. Do you support this move? Why or why not?
Yung: When this first took place I had a lot of mixed feelings but I held judgment. Then I went to the council meeting and I witnessed the public discussion that took place there and I heard the comments from the council. And those comments were compelling. However, in light of what’s taking place today with the appointment of the lead of that department with no public input whatsoever, I’m opposed to it at this point, I think we need to put the brakes on. And we need to work with the community. The community was not involved. And when that meeting was over last week, I really was under the impression that we were moving very slowly, and that public input would be forming all of our decisions. And yet none of us even knew about this appointment that was taking place. And I don’t quite understand why a normal typical hiring process was not taken, where publicly it’s notified, and we search for candidates within and without Clark County and find the best person for the job.
Hinojosa: Overall, I believe I’m opposed to it as well. After speaking with many law enforcement officers and other county employees, they had the feeling that they were left out and out of the discussion before the announcement. Those individuals stated that they were not necessarily against the county, the decision by the County Council, but they felt very disrespected by the announcement. And I believe that this sets up tensions and distrust between the County Council and law enforcement. And so we need a more open and frank discussion before such decisions are made. As a county councilor, I would like to see a full report and analysis of why these types of decisions are made. And we should not make any decisions without public input.
Do you support the proposed charter amendment to create a diversity and inclusion office and nine-member commission? Why or why not?
Hinojosa: I support it. So I’ve been working alongside many others for 15 years to gain seats at the table of boards, advisory teams and commissions for our BIPOC community members, in many instances by breaking the barrier and being the only brown person in the room. So even though we’re making progress, I wholeheartedly believe this is the only way we can be a truly livable community. And one that is safe and secure and it’s equitable, that serves residents of all ages, ability levels, incomes, races, ethnicities, and other backgrounds. It’s an important issue. And now, we should vote for it and implement it as soon as possible.
Yung: Yes, I am supportive of this. And one of the things that we need to start doing as a community is having more honest and transparent discussions about this. What is diversity? What does it mean? Is it just race? It’s not, you know. I have rented an apartment in my life. I have owned a home in my life. I’ve run a business. I’ve been employed. I have five children. My youngest four are biracial. They’re children of color. My wife is half Chinese, half Vietnamese. She grew up on the islands, and so that island culture is there. So what is diversity? Individuals who perhaps are hard at hearing, or deaf, individuals that are blind, everybody has something to bring to the table. And to me, that is what diversity is. And it’s a worthwhile goal to try to get everybody involved in our community. Give everybody a fair shot and make sure that we’re following the law, quite frankly.
What ideas do you have to improve citizen notification and engagement when a proposed project may affect residents?
Yung: This one comes near and dear to me, as many people know that I was spurred into public service by a project that landed on my front door. What do we do to engage our citizens? The first thing is we have to make an earnest attempt to reach them. We’ve got to make sure that our outreach efforts are sufficient and that their quality, and we need to make sure that we don’t leave part of the message out. And we need, first and foremost, to kind of go away from this system of all of the stuff happening behind closed doors, and then bring it to the public when it’s really already decided. That’s something that we see very often in government and we need to go away from that. The discussions need to go away from people’s back rooms and come back into the public. So the people can be involved. When you don’t involve people, that’s when you make mistakes, that’s when you miss things, things get lost and you can harm, you can actually cause harm to your policy or your implementation.
Hinojosa: Every effort should be made to engage the public in any decision that the county makes. So in my personal involvement in the community, I receive phone calls all the time. And I try to respond as quickly as I possibly can to address the problems that folks are having. I intend to continue that. We should be able to respond to citizens in a clear, concise manner, and deal with the issues at hand, not put off citizens, not belittle them and we should take their concerns very, very seriously. Before we make any decision, we should weigh everything that is in front of the council and make the best policy possible.
Hinojosa: Problem solving has been part of my DNA nowadays. Growing up on the farm, we had to solve our own problems. There were no budgets to fix things. If we didn’t fix them, they never worked again. So my 40 years is in problem solving across the world. It’s important to me that I work cooperatively, collaboratively with everyone involved with the problem because that’s the only way that the actual problem gets fixed. If we don’t determine what the actual problem is, then we wind up going and solving symptoms instead of the actual problem. So we must be cognizant of the fact that just because we see a problem doesn’t mean that that’s it. We must work out what the actual issue is, and then work out how to solve it. So we can do that together. And I ask everyone in this room to actually help us do that.
Yung: I have been endorsed by many people. One of the ones that I’m most proud of is Temple Lentz, who currently serves on this seat that I am trying for today. I have multiple people that are on or have been on the City Council, including Bart Hansen, Sarah Fox, Larry Smith, Pat Jallatto, Betty Sue Morris, who was a former Clark County Commissioner. Please go to my website and take a look at the hundreds of names there. Hundreds of people from all different walks of life. Hundreds of Republicans, Democrats, Independents, everything in between. We voted last year as a county to have nonpartisan elections and there’s a reason for that. We’re tired of this partisanship that’s taking place. So let’s change things. Let’s start working together and not define ourselves by a letter that follows our name and really work together towards solving some of the serious problems that we have in Clark County.
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