The current comments and positions of each candidate for offices of Clark County assessor, clerk and treasurer
VANCOUVER — With less than two weeks to election day, here is a look into the races for Clark County assessor, clerk and treasurer:
Many of the issue discussions herein were also televised and can be viewed at CVTV.org.
Clark County clerk
Eight-year incumbent Scott G. Weber (R), is running against newcomer Barbara L. Melton (D) for the position of clerk.
Weber and Melton attended the most recent League of Women Voters forum on Oct. 16. In addition to his years as clerk, Weber has experience in the private sector and manufacturing, while Melton has worked in the county’s prosecutor’s office for the past 17 years.
When asked about potential future organizational changes to the county’s court system, each gave the following responses:
“We have already expanded from eight judges to ten,” Melton said. “It’s possible at some point we may need to expand and add more judges. If that were to happen, of course the clerk’s office would have to add more court clerks.”
“I believe the organizational changes in the court system have to do a lot more with, like, electronic notification … things that other counties have, to make information a lot more easily accessible,” Weber said. “One of the biggest restraints we have is the size of the courthouse. Without adding more courtrooms, we’re limited on how much we can grow at this point.”
Later on in the forum, the question of main clerk responsibilities was posed to the candidates.
“We’re the keeper of the record,” Weber said. “We’re maintained to keep that document for eternity, and when called upon be able to return that document to whoever … when it is needed. I believe that is our main function.”
“The main responsibilities of the county clerk are filing all superior court documents, scheduling of court cases and providing dockets to the court, receiving and dispersing of money at the court’s direction, facilitation services to the public, to assist people navigating the domestic court services. In a nutshell,” Melton said.
Clark County treasurer
With current Clark County Treasurer Doug Lasher retiring, two newcomer candidates have entered the race: Alishia Topper and Robert Hinds.
With neither candidate stating a partisan preference, their platforms are almost solely built off of experience.
Topper is currently a member of the Vancouver City Council and also serves as the tax service manager in the Clark County Treasurer’s Office. She also serves as the chair of the Board of Directors for Columbia Credit Union.
Hinds is the current chair of the Clark County Historic Preservation Commission with past experience in marketing analysis for HP and financial analysis for Toyota.
Both attended the most recent League of Women Voters forum on Oct. 16.
When asked what was the most important activity in the treasurer’s office, both candidates responded by mentioning the intricacy involved in managing cash for the county.
“Being in the office, I would love to say tax services,” Topper said. “But really the most important is the balancing and reconciliation of cash. We need to ensure that all of those funds are accounted for, and that that money is distributed to districts.”
“I think it’s such a well-integrated function that it’s hard to really decouple it and say one element of the treasury’s responsibility is more important than the other,” Hinds said. “It’s all one process and it has to be managed end to end. So I don’t think there’s any one piece that can be singled out. It needs to be managed holistically.”
Later, candidates were asked what challenges do they see for the treasurer’s office as the county grows.
“I think one of the biggest challenges as Clark County grows will be diverse community; a diverse population,” Topper said. “When you think about the needs of the customers that we serve, as we age and as we have new and upcoming millennials and Gen Y, they’re going to want to do business uniquely different. So we can’t continue to do things the way we’ve always done them.”
“We need to be aware that right now we are in one of the longest economic expansions in our country’s history,” Hinds said. “We are approaching nine years now. As any economist will tell you, expansions do not last forever. There will always be business cycles, and we need to be prepared for that … So that when we do get into our next downturn, we are not over committed and we are able to meet the needs of the citizens, even as demand grows for those services.”
Clark County assessor
Seven-year incumbent candidate, Peter Van Nortwick (R), is currently running against previous member of the Ridgefield City Council, Darren Wertz (R).
Both are running under the preference of the Republican party, making this race one of the two in Clark County, without bipartisan candidates.
Last week, at the most recent League of Women Voters’ forum, both candidates were allowed the opportunity to debate one another on moderated questions.
Van Nortwick attended, but Wertz declined the invitation.
As candidates, both are running on a platform strongly tied to reducing local tax increases as well as fighting for “taxpayer views.” Van Nortwick has prior experience as a general appraiser and appraising homes, while Wertz has worked as a senior economist and land use and planning consultant.