The council chair and District 1 councilor lost their bids for reelection this past November
CLARK COUNTY — Cake was cut, kudos were offered, and the county bid an unofficial farewell on Tuesday afternoon to Chair Marc Boldt and Councilor Jeanne Stewart. Both will officially end their terms on December 31.
“This is the second time I’m leaving,” Boldt told a group of county employees, other elected officials, and a few citizens at a gathering on the sixth floor of the county building, “and it’s a lot easier leaving a $50,000 dollar job than it is a $100,000 job.”
Boldt has been in elected office for most of the past 23 years, first serving as a state legislator in the 17th District from 1995 through 2004. He then spent seven years on the three-member Board of County Commissioners before being unseated in 2012. A year later he was elected to the Board of Freeholders, which created the Home Rule Charter which changed the county’s form of government to a five-member council, with only the chair as an at large seat. Boldt then went on to win the county chair seat in 2015.
“It’s just sort of the routine,” says Boldt. “I won’t have a free parking space, you know?”
“He’s sort of that ‘aww shucks, really don’t know what I’m doing’, but he really does know what he’s doing every step of the way,” joked District 2 councilor Julie Olson. “The scary part is I’m the most senior person on the council, and that’s scary to me. And not having Marc there to turn to with his history is going to be a challenge.”
Boldt is being replaced by current District 4 Councilor Eileen Quiring, who helped to present certificates of appreciation to both Boldt and Stewart.
“We’re going to miss Marc because he knows where the bodies are buried,” she joked, “he may have buried some of them.”
Stewart previously served 12 years as a member of Vancouver City Council before being elected to the then-County Commission in 2014, shortly before the Home Rule Charter took effect. The Republican was then assigned to District 1, which represents most of downtown Vancouver. She was handily defeated this year by Democrat Temple Lentz, who was also on the Board of Freeholders.
“As someone who has experienced a lot of dysfunction in elected government in other locales, it has truly been a pleasure to work with Marc and Jeanne, and all of the councilors here,” said County Manager Shawn Henessee, who has been with the county for five months now. “Yeah, there’s disagreement. There’s always going to be disagreement. But everyone does take that collaborative approach.”
Stewart said she has appreciated the fact that the council can disagree, sometimes strongly, and yet always find a way to reach consensus and move forward.
“I appreciate and thank you both for the opportunity to be able to come speak my mind,” said Clark County Sheriff Chuck Atkins, who recently was elected to a new four-year term, “to do what I felt was right, but also learn from the both of you on how this process works so that I can be able to make it work for the next four years, as we work through the other things.”
Boldt says he’s most proud of the mental health sales tax, which has helped to fund new resources for mental health treatment in the county. He also helped to get the 78th Street Heritage Farm on the National Register of Historic Places in 2013, and create the Agency for Aging to address the county’s growing number of elderly residents.
His biggest regret, he says, would probably be missing out on landing a Minor League baseball team, which eventually became the Hillsboro Hops.
While Boldt and Stewart both heard plenty of nice things on Tuesday, they’ve received their share of criticism as well. Boldt said he’s had to develop a thick skin, especially given his accessibility as a local elected official.
“When you go to Olympia or DC, you know, you don’t see them people in Safeway,” he says.
Boldt isn’t sure what he’ll do next. He says he may dabble in government policy, or he might go back to driving commercial trucks, which he did for decades before becoming an elected official. He adds that what he’ll miss most are the people he’s gotten to know every day in his job as head of the county.
“I loved being here,” he says, “I loved serving, and I learned from every person I can.”