Clark County Council: John Blom still trails in top two primary for District 3 seat

Approximately 37,000 ballots are left to be counted, with Blom trailing second place Jesse James by nearly 2,500 votes

CLARK COUNTY — With 112,549 ballots counted from Tuesday’s top-two primary election, and an estimated 37,000 votes still to tally, John Blom continues to trail in the race for Clark County Council’s District 3 seat.

As of Wednesday evening, Republican Karen Bowerman holds a 2,289-vote lead over Democrat Jesse James, with Blom coming in a distant third with 4,990 votes.

From left-to-right, Jesse James, Karen Bowerman, and John Blom.
From left-to-right, Jesse James, Karen Bowerman, and John Blom.

Blom, who was elected to Clark County Council in 2016, changed his party affiliation to Independent for this run, saying he believes the county’s governing body should be a nonpartisan office.

Bowerman, who served one term on the city council in Lake Oswego, Oregon from 2012 to 2015, jumped in to run against Blom as a Republican in the district which includes much of eastern Vancouver, and parts of western Camas.

“Needless to say I’m very pleased with the results and humbled by the outcome,” Bowerman told Clark County Today. “The result is not different from what I predicted for the one reason that my positions on issues were made perfectly clear during the campaign, and I believe that they aligned with our voters’ priorities.”

The Democrat, Jesse James, listed his elected experience in the voter’s pamphlet as “Private Citizen,” and told he spent only about $1,500 on his primary election campaign.

“From what I understand, John Blom had spent up to $10,000 with an additional $91,000 from his PAC,” James said. “That feels like a huge victory to me, because the money in politics is insane. And it should not be that way, especially for a local race like this.”

Bowerman also had plenty of financial support, including a $15,000 contribution late in the race from the Clark County Republican Party, which is chaired by her husband Earl Bowerman.

That money came from a $20,000 donation to the party made by Eric Temple and his company, Portland-Vancouver Junction Railroad, which has been locked in a bitter fight with the county over its lease to operate the county-owned Chelatchie Prairie shortline railroad, and over how to implement industrial development along part of the line in Brush Prairie.

Bowerman, who has served as a dean for the College of Business and Public Administration at California State University, is seen as a more business-friendly candidate, and likely supporter of moving ahead with Freight Rail-Dependant Use rezoning, which is largely seen as a job creator for the area, though concerns have been raised about some of the potential industries that might be allowed into the area, including a potential asphalt plant.

James says he will focus on a platform of environmental stewardship and protecting Clark County’s farmlands and rural areas.

“For me, climate change is one of the most important things in the world and locally,” James said on election night, “I believe almost every decision that the council makes, especially when it comes to land use, climate change has to be the absolute top priority.”

Blom had become the focus of an ethics complaint filed by Temple in early July, alleging that the candidate, through a campaign staff member, had threatened to “destroy” Temple’s business over the donation. Blom denied the allegations, and the County Council shelved the complaint over concerns that the process to investigate them was inadequate.

A separate complaint filed with the state’s Public Disclosure Commission was also dismissed.

As of Wednesday evening, Blom has made no public comment regarding his apparent failure to advance to the General Election in November, despite repeated requests from Clark County Today.

Jim Mains, who worked as a consultant with Blom through his company, Main Distinction, said on Facebook that he was proud of Blom’s decision in “following his heart and running as a nonpartisan candidate. In today’s political climate that is hard to do.”

In a response to that post, Clark County Treasurer Alishia Topper, a Democrat, said she was proud to have endorsed Blom’s candidacy. 

“John is an outstanding councilman who has taken hard votes and made tough decisions to move our county forward over the past four years,” Topper wrote. “I am proud I endorsed him, and am disappointed in tonight’s results.”

This story will be updated with any comment from Councilor Blom as soon as he decides to make one.