Elections: Race for Clark County Council, District 3

Clark County Today offers a look at the race for Clark County Council, District 3

Three candidates are participating in the race for the Clark County Council District 3 seat. Two of the three candidates will advance from the Aug. 4 primary election and move on to the November general election.

Clark County Today offers a look at the race for Clark County Council, District 3.
Jesse James • Karen Bowerman • John Blom

Incumbent John Blom and challenger Jesse James participated in the League of Women Voters of Clark County candidate forum Wednesday night. Challenger Karen Bowerman was unable to attend. Blom and James answered questions from a moderator in a virtual format. Here is a link to the CVTV video of the event. The portion of the video that contains the council candidates begins at the 43:45 minute mark: https://www.cvtv.org/ajax_video_popup.php?id=31311

Bowerman provided Clark County Today with her responses to the same questions Blom and James answered at Wednesday’s forum, several also with links to a video format. Here is a link to Bowerman’s responses: https://www.clarkcountytoday.com/karen-bowerman-responses-clark-county-today/

Clark County Today also provides campaign information about all three candidates below (in alphabetical order):

John Blom (Prefers no party preference)

John Blom has served on the County Council since 2017. He was first elected as a Republican but when he filed for re-election he stated no party preference.

John Blom
John Blom

“I will be running for re-election with “no-party preference,” or non-partisan,’’ Blom said. “I have learned much about the work of the county over the last four years, and one thing I have observed is that the vast majority of the decisions made by the council are not partisan by nature. The largest portion of the county’s general fund goes toward public safety, both the sheriff’s office and the courts. When people need help and call the sheriff, they don’t care if it was a Democrat or Republican that approved the budget — they just want to know that help will arrive in a timely fashion.

“Yes, the county makes a decision each year on a 1 percent property tax increase, a vote that impacts the average house by about $6 one way or the other, but that’s a relatively small decision when we are talking about the need to keep deputies on patrol, maintain our transportation infrastructure, and providing a broad range of services across a population of nearly half a million people,’’ said Blom, who believes that by stating no party preference he can work with all other elected leaders.’’

Blom has also served as a C-TRAN board member, as well as a board member of the Southwest Washington Area Agency on Aging and Disability and is a past president of the Clark County Association of Realtors. He is also currently on the Board of Directors of the Boys and Girls Clubs of SW Washington and The Historic Trust.

“Clark County faces significant challenges in the next four years, but with that comes opportunity,’’ Blom said. “The coronavirus pandemic has led to significant decline in the county’s sales tax revenue. Maintaining service levels across the county, and particularly in public safety, will require hard work and experience in county budgeting. Added to that challenge are several major projects that will impact the county for decades: the 20-year comprehensive plan, ongoing conversations about the need for a new jail, maintaining our roads and public facilities, and addressing the homelessness crisis. 

“All of these issues require steady, thoughtful leadership that is focused on solving problems,’’ Blom said. “It will require working together with city and state leaders to find solutions. If we continue to work together to find reasonable and practical strategies, we can come out of these challenging times stronger than before. This election will determine what direction Clark County goes for the next four years: we can slide back into the bitter partisanship that shaped much of the last decade, or we can continue to move forward, addressing challenges and creating a community of which we can be proud.’’

For more information, visit Blom’s campaign website, https://www.johnblom.com/

Karen Bowerman (Republican)

Karen Bowerman entered the race for Clark County councilor District 3 after an extensive background with small business, spanning a career of 40 years, including service as dean of a business school in higher education and volunteer mentor to business owners. 

Karen Bowerman
Karen Bowerman

Bowerman notes that from the county’s perspective with revenue declines brought on by the pandemic, this is the time to elect a councilor with business skills and dedication to lower taxes and lower spending. 

Bowerman offers a regular video blog in a series she has titled “Just A Minute.” The videos can be seen from her website http://KarenBowerman.com, Facebook page @ElectKarenBowerman, or her YouTube channel. 

Bowerman was raised in Kansas where she began a love of international travel, having been in the first small group of high school students to live with a Turkish family in the American Field Service program. She completed her doctorate at Texas A&M University, where she met Earl Bowerman, the man who is now her husband of 42 years. They have four grown children. Initially jobs took them to California, but as soon as they retired, Karen Bowerman said “they were eager to move to the Great Northwest for its beauty, natural foods, healthy business environment and yes, they say for rain so they could leave behind the desert sun.’’

When they moved, Bowerman said she also left behind a bankrupt city, and knows how to stop repeating California’s issues. Two issues she wants to work on if she is successful in earning the County Council seat is job creation and to increase road capacity for relieving congestion and improving freight mobility. 

“Now, more than ever, representatives of the people must be skilled in job creation and skilled in identifying true community priorities among urgent competing needs,’’ she said. “Using my forty years of business and public service experience, I will focus on Clark County’s economic development, especially considering the damage caused by the virus crisis and the hardships so many families have endured. I will vote against excessive taxation, against your tax dollars being wasted and against tolling commuter roads. 

“We need transportation infrastructure that relieves congestion,’’ Bowerman said. “I will be your voice for new transportation corridors and a third crossing of the Columbia River with improved freight mobility. I support budget priorities for improving public safety with strong and safe neighborhoods and defending property rights with common sense planning and zoning policies. Taxpayers deserve a guard against intrusive government as the county provides regional parks, land use planning and mental and public health services. As one who is passionate about integrity in government and politics, I will provide informed and principled contributions with honesty and transparency. My mission is to reverse bloated county spending and make our county government more effective and efficient.’’

For more information, go to her campaign website, http://KarenBowerman.com.

Jesse James (Democrat)

Jesse James has been a resident of Clark County for over 40 years. He and his wife have two children who attend schools in the Evergreen School District. James is a 1985 graduate of Battle Ground High School.

Jesse James
Jesse James

James spent nearly 10 years sailing as a United States Merchant Mariner as a member of the Seafarers International Union. 

“As a Merchant Mariner, there are many hats to wear,’’ James wrote on his campaign website. “Teamwork is paramount from survival to accomplishing the mission and everything in-between. 

“The Clark County Council must work with the communities it serves as a team,’’ James added. “I am prepared to work as a team with the council, and when necessary, lead them to the best decisions for the people of Clark County. Together we can meet the challenges that we face. We can grow responsibly and serve the needs of the people while protecting the natural resources we all enjoy and rely on.’’

James said he has watched Clark County more than double in population since he graduated from high school.

“As our population grows, so do our needs for managing that growth,’’ James said. “We have many challenges to address, from affordable housing, strengthening community services, attracting clean businesses that pay living wages, aggressively addressing the homeless situation, and improving access to mental health treatment, while protecting our open spaces, farmland, forests, and waters.

“For far too long our council has been influenced by special interests,’’ he said. “Rubber stamping projects while only paying lip service to our fellow citizens who are impacted by their decisions. As your representative on the council, I will listen to you and weigh your concerns over those of special interests. This is an all-volunteer campaign and it relies on your support.’’

James also is passionate about environmental issues.

“I seek to ensure that our children’s future includes healthy forests and streams, solid community infrastructure, job opportunities, and affordable housing,’’ he said. “COVID-19 causes financial hardship for our families and county government and highlights our dependence on national food chain supply and factory farming. If Clark County witnesses budget shortfalls, then the Clark County Council must find ways to put the needs of the people first. 

“Protecting farmlands and exploring ways to encourage more local farming is key to Clark County’s sustainability in times of crisis,’’ James said. “Local food production also lowers CO2 emissions with reduced farm-to-market transportation needs. I vow to protect our natural resources, which provide hunting, fishing, and recreation opportunities, by improving mitigation measures for impacts derived from the rapid growth and development that continues in Clark County. My top priorities are addressing urban sprawl, traffic congestion, affordable housing, and the growing homeless population. Because I’m not a career politician, I’m beholden only to the voters.’’ 

For more information, go to James’ campaign website, www.electjessejames.com.

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About The Author

Ken Vance got his start in the newspaper industry in 1987 as a reporter at The Columbian Newspaper in Vancouver. Vance graduated from Stevenson High School in Stevenson, WA, and attended Clark College in Vancouver. He worked for The Columbian from 1987-2001. He was most recently a staff member of The Reflector Newspaper in Battle Ground, where he served as editor since 2010 and reporter since 2007. Vance’s work in the newspaper industry has won him multiple awards, including a first place award from the Society of Professional Journalists for in-depth reporting.

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