McEnerny-Ogle left as sole candidate in Vancouver mayoral race

Vancouver mayoral candidate gives voters a look at her views

VANCOUVER — The League of Women Voters of Clark County held the last of four general election candidate forums on Oct. 12 at the Vancouver Community Library to give Vancouver voters an opportunity to learn more about candidates in local elections.

One of the races covered at the candidate forum was for the mayor of Vancouver. Current Council Member and Mayor Pro Tem Anne McEnerny-Ogle was the only candidate to attend the candidate forum. Vancouver’s current mayor, Timothy Leavitt, is not seeking re-election.

Anne McEnerny-Ogle is now the sole candidate for the position of Vancouver mayor after Steven Cox withdrew from the race in September. Photo by Mike Schultz
Anne McEnerny-Ogle is now the sole candidate for the position of Vancouver mayor after Steven Cox withdrew from the race in September. Photo by Mike Schultz

Steven Cox had initially been running against McEnerny-Ogle, but withdrew from the race in September after a dispute with Vancouver Council Member Jack Burkman. Cox will still appear on the November ballot, as the deadline for candidate removal was May 22.

McEnerny-Ogle has served as a city council member since January 2014, and as the mayor pro tem since January 2016.

McEnerny-Ogle was first asked how the position of mayor is different from that of a city council member, and what constitutes a mayor’s responsibilities.

McEnerny-Ogle pointed out that the city charter states that the mayor is actually a city councilor, with the same responsibilities. However, the mayor presides over council meetings, sets the agenda and serves as a head of ceremonial activities.

Moderator Nancy Barnes then asked what McEnerny-Ogle perceived to be the biggest challenges facing Vancouver over the next five years.

McEnerny-Ogle said that the three biggest challenges for Vancouver are housing, transportation and employment.

“While the city has 1,000 employees, we do not create jobs,” McEnerny-Ogle said. “What we do is help businesses create jobs, and in order for that to happen, the transportation is a major piece for those businesses.”

According to McEnerny-Ogle, Vancouver does not have the necessary infrastructure to adequately support new large companies seeking to locate in the city. She also said that there is a related need of providing housing for employees that move seeking jobs at companies attracted to Vancouver.

In a related question, McEnerny-Ogle was asked what infrastructure improvements Vancouver needed the most and how they could be realized.

She said that the city has faced wastewater treatment issues, specifically noting a need for new generators at a wastewater treatment plant, as well as renovating one of the city’s water stations.

McEnerny-Ogle also said that there is a need to improve mobility in the westside of Vancouver, specifically along Fruit Valley Road. To support industries in the westside of Vancouver, she said that a new Fruit Valley Road overpass is needed over the railroad tracks.

Another needed infrastructure improvement according to McEnerny-Ogle is the creation of a new day center for the homeless population of the city.

McEnerny-Ogle was then asked what the city could do to support small business development.

“Small businesses are 95 percent of our economy,” McEnerny-Ogle said, “and as we look at that that means that we have a number of small business initiatives.”

According to McEnerny-Ogle, Vancouver currently has a pre-lease opportunity available for small businesses to work through the permitting process. There is also a sewer assistance program that allows new businesses to have a more manageable sewer bill when they first move to the city. Finally, McEnerny-Ogle said that Vancouver hosts various workshop opportunities for new small businesses to learn about local permitting processes.

Finally, McEnerny-Ogle had the opportunity to describe solutions she believed could help address the issue of homelessness in Vancouver.

In the past, McEnerny-Ogle served for five years on the city’s planning commission, and said that Vancouver already has some plans for addressing homelessness. She said that accessory dwelling unit criteria were changed.

McEnerny-Ogle also said that there are opportunities to work with the local organization Share to help house more homeless residents.

“We’re also looking for those day centers,” McEnerny-Ogle said. She noted that the city is currently working with Clark County to determine ways to move forward with day shelters.

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