Primary gives hints in County Council race

Democrat Adrian Cortes trails, but had a strong showing in the traditionally conservative district

CLARK COUNTY — The race to fill the term remaining on Clark County Council’s District 4 seat will come down to a race between a relative newcomer and a long-time resident.

Primary gives hints in County Council race
Adrian Cortes (left) will face off against Councilor Gary Medvigy in November. Adrian Cortes photo courtesy Adrian4CountyCouncil/Facebook. Gary Medvigy photo by Mike Schultz

That fact was known even before Tuesday’s election, since there are only two names on the ballot for the race, and Washington has a top-two primary process. But the results at least give a snapshot into which way people are leaning.

And round one goes to the newcomer.

Gary Medvigy, a retired Superior Court judge, moved to east Clark County three years ago from Sonoma County to be closer to his son. He says retirement didn’t suit him, so he began to consider getting involved politically.

Primary gives hints in County Council race
Clark County District 4 Councilor Gary Medvigy speaks during the State of the County address in January. Photo by Mike Schultz

“I’ve been in elected office before but never challenged,” Medvigy told ClarkCountyToday.com on Wednesday, admitting that the campaigning process has been hard work. 

“But meeting so many great people on the campaign trail, whether liberal, independent or conservative, whoever I talk with, I’m really enjoying meeting my neighbors throughout the county. That’s been a real pleasure,” Medvigy said.

Whether it’s a referendum on the job he’s done since being unanimously picked to fill the seat left vacant when Eileen Quiring became county chair, or just the power of incumbency, Medvigy pulled in over 58 percent of the vote, besting Battle Ground City Councilor Adrian Cortes, who is also chair of the C-TRAN Board of Directors and a teacher in Camas.

“I’m the local individual that grew up in North Clark County,” says Cortes. “I’ve been here since I was five years old.”

Primary gives hints in County Council race
Battle Ground City Councilor Adrian Cortes checks results on Primary Election night. Photo by Mike Schultz

While he is listed as a Democrat on the ballot, Cortes has campaigned largely on a fiscally conservative platform.

“We need citizens in the driver’s seat, not politicians,” Cortes has said in a video posted to his campaign’s Facebook page. “Stop the waste. Stop subsidizing growth. Better planning. Increased community input.”

On that same page, Cortes noted that he had the best showing of any Democrat in the county’s Fourth District in over a decade, though it’s worth noting the district itself has only existed since 2015, at least in terms of a defined boundary.

Medvigy has been a vocal member of the County Council since coming on board, advocating for a way to fund traffic improvements in the 179th Street area that didn’t include new property taxes, and seeking answers about the potential of a third Columbia River crossing. He says the future of freight rail dependent development along the Chelatchie Prairie rail line also concerns him, though progress has been stalled as the county and the railroad’s operator remain stuck in a legal quagmire.

Whichever candidate prevails in November, it will be a short reprieve. Washington State law says anyone named to fill a vacant seat on a city or county board must run for election in the same year. Unlike many other states, the election is only to complete the term of the previous person who held that seat.

“It’s a lot of energy, a lot of money,” says Medvigy. “I think it could use some reform.”

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