Political newcomer Sarah Fox and political veteran Jeanne Stewart oppose each other in Tuesday’s general election
VANCOUVER — In one of the most intriguing races in Tuesday’s general election, Sarah Fox and Jeanne Stewart will square off in the race for Position 6 on the Vancouver City Council.
Stewart and Fox had plenty of company in the race for the position in the August top-two primary election as they advanced from a field of seven candidates who filed for the seat on the council. Fox had the most votes, but finished with only a 123-vote advantage after the 22,252 votes were counted.
Fox is relatively new to the political scene in Clark County, while Stewart is a former member of the Vancouver City Council and the Clark County Council. One of the two will replace Bill Turlay, who elected to retire from the council rather than run for re-election.
Here’s a closer look at the candidates (in alphabetical order):
Fox has served as Jr. vice commander, VFW Post 7824; president, Planning Association of SW WA; and president, Camas Public Employees Association. Her professional experience includes Veteran, US Army; vice president, Decorative Metal Services (a local family owned construction company); and a senior planner for the city of Camas, where she is responsible for review of development permits, policy, and environmental impacts. Fox has a Master’s Degree, Urban and Regional Planning; Bachelor of Arts Degree, Community Development, Minor in International Studies, Portland State University; Defense Language Institute (US Military); and is a graduate of Hudson’s Bay High School. Her community service includes the Honor Guard for Veterans of Foreign Wars; Historic Preservation Commissioner (2013-2019); volunteer for Habitat for Humanity and other community partners.
In her Voters’ Pamphlet statement, Fox said, “local government is about people – families, business, and children. It’s about jobs, community, keeping us safe, and the day-to-day issues confronting each of us as we live, work, and thrive. I believe our city shouldn’t be about big money and insider politics. If you believe that too, then I am your candidate for city council. I’m a Vancouver native; literally born on Main Street. I graduated from Hudson’s Bay High School, left for the military, and returned to raise my children here. As an Army Veteran, combat experience gave me the unique perspective about the ramifications of actions and being accountable to those that depend on you. Returning home, I finished college and worked my way up from welder to vice president in our family construction business. Currently, I am serving the public as an urban planner. My diverse business, military, and government service experience would be unique on council. No other council member has this background. I strive to be a thoughtful leader; someone who solves complex problems, brings fresh ideas, and people together. I will work tirelessly for you, stay focused on the issues, listen, serve without ego, and be dedicated to outcomes and accountability.’’
In addition to her political experience, Stewart served as co-owner of the David J. Stewart Co. for 29 years (manufacturers sales, building products). She also spent 13 years in the US Bancorp Corporate Audit Division. Stewart holds an Associates Degree (Art & Sciences) from Clark College and has earned Continuing Education credits at Portland State University. Her community service includes a Service Award from the Clark County Veteran Court (board member); Vancouver Planning Commission (5 years); Clark County Solid Waste Advisory Board (20 years); Soroptimist International of Vancouver (Board of Directors); Clark County League of Women Voters (Board of Directors).
In her Voters’ Pamphlet statement, Stewart said, “The job of a Vancouver City Council member is listening to the citizens and representing the voice of the people. And I am proud of my past service on Vancouver City Council and the Clark County Council, doing just that. Serving in both roles provides some insight about potential cooperation and partnerships between the jurisdictions. Vancouver City Council, for the last many years, has successfully focused on Downtown Redevelopment and changed the face of Vancouver. Infrastructure, streets, sidewalks, street lights are scheduled. Parks are developing. Business development is strong. Now, it’s time for city council to rebalance the focus and take steps toward protecting the stability of our existing affordable, viable neighborhoods. New street and sidewalk designs should be reasonably compatible with current uses of the neighborhoods. Adding crossings and ADA ramps and parks maintenance is needed. Street and road repairs need firm scheduling. Improvements in public safety are needed in all areas of the city. Funding law enforcement must be a high priority. While recognizing these needs, we need to be mindful of the dangers of excessive incremental tax increases. Therefore, setting firm priorities for spending is crucial.’’
League of Women Voters Candidate Forum
Both Fox and Stewart participated in a recent candidate forum held by the League of Women Voters of Clark County. Here are some of the responses they offered to some of the questions asked at the forum.
The candidates were asked what are the pros and cons of voting for city council members by district?
Stewart: “There are pros and cons. When I sat on the council years ago, the Charter Review Committee of citizens repeatedly came forward almost every five years with a request to go to districting. The council had a lot of discussions about that. And some of those discussions, I can tell you, have proven to be accurate, because having come from the Clark County Council … the biggest problem is you get sort of territorial ownership and responsibility, but it’s likely that you begin to lose a little bit of the whole picture about how it all needs to work together. And so, to divide it up and have someone interested in only a specific area, we need to have cohesiveness.’’
Fox: “I’ve been saying all along that I’m supportive of districting. I believe that it would really help the candidates that are from lesser means, and also those that are considering running for city council not to be looking at the prospect as so daunting. And also, when we think about our neighborhoods and our communities, we usually know that part of town that we live and work in very well. We know the property owners. We know the parks. We know all the safe places to walk. We also know the places that need to be worked on for traffic safety and whatnot. And so, I believe that this will also improve the relationship that we have with our citizens overall, because then you’ll know which city council member to go to for some of these issues. I don’t believe that it would create any sort of division on council because in the end, we all do want what’s best for the city of Vancouver?’’
The candidates were also asked if additional support and or services should be added to the navigation center?
Fox: “Right now, the facility, as we know has been is undergoing a review by a third party. They’re taking a look at what is really working there and what needs to be fixed. Visiting the center and talking to the neighbors in the community, I’d say there’s a few things that really stand out to me personally. In light of what they were promised about a year ago, and I’d say things like having permanent offices for these support services instead of having a rotating calendar of services that are at the facility. I also believe there should be permanent offices there for Veterans Services, health services, and perhaps even an office for a neighborhood liaison, and things that we can just depend on as a facility there. But, other than that, I think that we need to really pay attention to some of the outcomes of this third party and really have an open mind about what we’re hearing from the community, as well, to ensure that this neighborhood can be made whole again.’’
Stewart: “I think the idea of purchasing the property and using that property as a Navigation Center as a center or a hub for the homeless, we can just call it that, that’s what it is. And, we need to be frank and honest, in how we’re describing both the nature of what goes on with homelessness, and potentially some of what we can do about it. I’ve attended at least four of the last five Good Neighbor meetings there. The neighbors are very upset. What it seems to me it needs, and I say this with the experience having been on Clark County Council and helped fund similar programs, is that they need a comprehensive, cohesive plan, start to finish, for helping people get on their feet.’’