Ken Vance, Editor
VANCOUVER — City of Vancouver mayoral candidate Steven Cox makes no apologies for his lack of political experience. He believes his extensive personal and professional resume has more than qualified him to be an elected official.
“My intent is to bring decades of high level experience in the military (to this position),’’ Cox told ClarkCountyToday.com in a recent interview. “This is what I do, evaluate situations. I served as a battalion commander over 800 soldiers. That’s a pretty good-sized company to be a CEO of.
“We did everything as far as combat logistics,’’ Cox said. “I served in the fox hole to echelons above corps. I’ve served in director positions on the staffs of generals — director of logistics, director of operations. I’ve been a comptroller. I’ve done security, personnel, human resources. I’ve done the engineering piece. I ran a military community that I had to build out of the dust in Iraq. I was the mayor of that town.’’
Cox was raised in La Habra, California. His father was a mechanical engineer and his mother a homemaker and professional secretary. He is the second of four brothers and a younger sister.
Cox joined the U.S. Army in September 1977 as a private first class under the Stripes for Skill program. He was promoted to specialist in 1978 and to sergeant in 1980. He joined the U.S. Army Reserves as a staff sergeant in 1983, and was commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant in 1985. He returned to the Regular Army as 1st lieutenant from 1988-1992. Cox re-joined the Reserve as a dual status military technician, captain in 1992, with promotions to major in 2000 and lieutenant colonel in 2006.
Cox retired after 36 years in the U.S. Army in 2013. After taking some time to rejuvenate himself, he said he and his wife Cindy decided it was time for him to look for his next challenge.
“I needed to re-engage,’’ said Cox, who then became a precinct committee officer for the Clark County Republican Party.
Cox said he was approached by several people in Clark County as to where and how he could devote his service to the community.
“Several people told me, ‘we want you to run for mayor,’’’ Cox said. “I talked to my wife about it. We prayed about it and the good Lord said, ‘I want you to do this.’ That’s why I got into this. I felt I had something to offer.’’
In addition to his 36-year career and extensive accomplishments in the military, the Cox resume also includes his graduation from California State University in 1988 with a BA in Mathematics (Physics/Statistics). He continued his professional development throughout his military career attending logistics courses, combined arms and services school, and command and general staff school from 2000- 2004.
“The knowledge, skills and abilities Steven developed in his military career qualify him as an executive leader to govern multi-billion dollar budgets, plan and forecast organizational structures, make policy and address the problems facing any city, including transportation, sanitation, law enforcement, environment, economy and public policy, etc.,’’ reads the Cox resume. “Steven has led soldiers under fire and suffered the loss of soldiers in combat. He fully comprehends the gravity of leadership decisions and how to mitigate risks, hazards and unintended consequences. Steven’s demonstrated ability to organize people and build unity is second to none. He is analytical and adapts quickly to capitalize on new opportunities.’’
Cox is running for the position of mayor of the city of Vancouver against current Vancouver Councilmember Anne McEnerny-Ogle, who was featured previously by ClarkCountyToday.com (https://www.clarkcountytoday.com/2017/01/11/anne-mcenerny-ogle-campaign-vancouvers-next-mayor/).
“When you compare my resume to my opponent’s resume, mine is leaps and bounds ahead of hers,’’ Cox said. “I have a different approach than local candidates who have lived here all their lives. Anne has a good heart and she is a good person. She is passionate to the point of being emotionally attached to some of the issues. We need Anne McEnerny-Ogles, great community organizers and activists. But, that doesn’t entitle you to be mayor. She has nowhere near the breadth and depth of experience, skills, knowledge and abilities that I have.
“I’m a very pragmatic person when it comes to evaluating ideas and problems,’’ Cox said. “I use the military decision making process. It’s very simple. You define the problem. You establish screening criteria. Establish evaluation criteria and you don’t weigh the criteria. You include the rest of the community. We have way too many activists who are trying to drive the train, but they’re actually dragging the train down. They’ve already arrived at their conclusions. They’re not being inclusive. I’m very inclusive.’’
Cox said if he was the mayor of Vancouver he would like to use an advisory vote process “on the big issues.’’
“If you’re going to raise taxes, the citizens need to vote on that,’’ Cox said. “There’s no two ways about that. I want to use a survey system that we can verify resident voters who are actually doing the survey. Let’s find out what they want so we can keep our finger on the pulse of this community, which is something I don’t think is happening at all. I feel very excluded from the process, not included. I’m sure a lot of people feel the same as I do.’’
Issues in Vancouver
There are several issues impacting the community that Cox is passionate about. Addressing the homeless problem in Vancouver is one of those issues.
“We know homelessness has several different categories,’’ Cox said. “Some are chronically homeless who don’t intend to go back to work. Some are mentally disabled and need all the compassion and care we can provide to keep them comfortable and safe. There are those who just fell into poverty and lost their homes. The sooner we can help them back on their feet the better. Data shows the longer they are homeless, the likelihood of them recovering is bleak.
“We’re asking the taxpayers to fund these programs, but to what extent?’’ Cox added. “In my opinion, government should not be compassionate at all. Compassion is a tenet of the church. The people are compassionate and the government should not assume what level of compassion the people have. At some point, there is a breaking point when you take from the livelihood of the people who have earned and give it to the people who have not earned. There’s only so far you can go.
“How far we can go to support the homeless needs to be the voice of the people and what they agree on,’’ Cox said. “Don’t expect me to sit in the mayor’s chair and say we’re going to maintain this level of service. You’re going to tell me what level of service we’re going to have because you’re going to fund it. And, that goes with the police department, fire department and so on.’’
Cox is very passionate about Vancouver’s transportation congestion problems.
“We know the I-5 bridge is going to have to be replaced, that’s a given,’’ Cox said. “How it’s done and when it’s done is still debatable. According to the experts, the bridge still has one-third of its lifespan left, which is about 50 years. Why don’t we just repair it and work on a third bridge, which will alleviate much of the traffic (on the I-5 bridge).
“The replacing scenario takes a bridge off-line, which is not a good scenario,’’ Cox said. “Why can’t we do parallel planning? Why can’t we take care of two bridges (at once)? Why are we taking this myopic, one-bridge approach? So what if it’s seven years down the road to get a third bridge? We need to start now.’’
Cox is also concerned about growth in Clark County.
“The long-term battle is, of course, the GMA (Growth Management Act), getting it restructured and fair,’’ he said. “Growth is good, but uncontrolled growth can backfire on you. We’ve seen the boom and busts in the economy and what it does to us. In my opinion, we need controlled growth in Vancouver. I don’t want to look like Portland and I don’t want to look like Seattle. I want to look like Vancouver. Vancouver is a great city. We have a lot of diverse people here with a lot of different ideas. But, a lot of those ideas came from Portland and Seattle. They have a lot of problems and I don’t want to bring their problems here. I want to preserve our environment.’’
A fresh approach
Cox prides himself as being the “outsider’’ candidate in the race for mayor of Vancouver.
“I bring a fresh outlook,’’ he said. “I have no bias and I’m very objective in my analysis. I use logic and reason before I apply any emotional issues. Emotions will cloud your decisions. I want to analyze data, perform qualitative and quantitative analysis of the situation and then offer a recommended course of action.’’
Cox said he wants to serve the people, not his own agenda.
“I am a servant leader,’’ he said. “I’m used to the Army values — loyalty, confidence, trust, selfless service, courage. I’ve been a servant to others all my life. I like to fix things. I like to solve problems. I like to serve others. It’s never about me.’’
In addition to his wife Cindy, Cox and has two adult children, Daniella and Jennifer; and three grandchildren — Sydney, Alex and Christie. In his spare time, Cox enjoys fishing, hunting, shooting and is an expert marksman. He is well-versed in Kung Fu San-soo, Tai Chi and Yoga. He has climbed Mt. Hood and Mt. St. Helens and is an avid skier; his wife and he enjoy walking, gardening, backpacking, camping and sailing.