VANCOUVER — Tuesday was the last meeting during which Tom Mielke and David Madore will serve as members of the Board of County Councilors. However, each councilor vowed their fight for the citizens of Clark County is far from over.
Mielke and Madore, both Republicans, come to the end of their respective time on the council with both a legion of appreciative followers and a large group of weary opponents. Mielke did not seek reelection to his seat as the representative of District 4 and Madore lost his bid to continue to represent District 3. While some may be rejoicing that their time on the council has come to an end, others will be happy to hear they don’t intend to fade quietly into the good night.
“I still live here,’’ said Mielke, who has represented the citizens of his north Clark County district for the past eight years. “I will probably be speaking from the other side of the podium to them (councilors) in the future, but we’re going to hold their feet to the fire and make sure that even if they won’t listen to us, maybe the voters watching on TV will. That’s the way I look at it. Unless they are forced to change, they will not. They bank on people not knowing what they’re doing.’’
Mielke was joined four years ago on the board, then as commissioners, by Madore. The two held a conservative majority on the three-person Board of County Commissioners and they wasted little time implementing their conservative ideology on the county.
Their success in passing their agenda prompted the adoption of the Clark County Charter, which offered the county a new form of government after approval by the voters. It also expanded the commission from three members to a new council of five members and during the past year, Mielke and Madore found themselves in the minority on the council instead of the majority. Despite that, right up and through Tuesday’s final meeting on the council, the two continued to fight their battles for the citizens and each vowed this week to continue that effort.
“I’m not going to retire,’’ said Madore, owner and founder of both US Digital and ClarkCountyToday.com. “I will still rise each morning, stand and salute and say, ‘ready to report to duty’ and ask for my marching orders. Leadership doesn’t need an office. I will continue to do what I can to help our community, defend our community and proactively problem solve for our community.’’
As far as their accomplishments while on the council, Madore pointed to the four-year-old campaign promises still listed on his political website, www.DavidMadore.com as evidence of what he said he was going to, a list that could be checked off on what he and Mielke were able to do while serving.
- Restore rural citizens’ private property rights by restoring Alternative 4 (Madore and Mielke were successful in passing Alternative 4, but after the new five-person council was seated, the proposed update to the county’s comprehensive plan was rescinded.)
- Stop the spending spree that is undoing all of the savings gained in the last 3 years.
- Return to sound financial principles, to once again live within our means.
- Protect our business friendly policies that support our booming economy.
- Protect the free use of our parks and boat launches.
- Restore open, transparent, accountable, limited government.
- Keep a lid on taxes, fees, and regulations.
- Restore the citizen supported policies that were repealed including: Our voter approved new toll-free East County Bridge Project (Madore vows to continue to fight for this and hopes President-elect Donald Trump will provide infrastructure funds to Clark County that will pay for it); Our toll-free West County Bridge Task Force; Our toll-free East County Bridge Task Force; Our voter approved policy to oppose Light Rail; Our voter approved policy to oppose Bus Rapid Transit; Our Community Supported Transportation Policy for congestion relief; Our Free Market Principles Policy; Our policy to cut unnecessary red tape and lower costs.
Much to the delight of many citizens, Madore and Mielke voted to remove fees for use of county parks during their tenure. Those fees were recently reinstated by the council, despite the objections of Madore and Mielke.
The two councilors were also responsible for enacting a Fee Waiver Program, which the council voted Tuesday to discontinue. Madore and Mielke cite a booming Clark County economy as evidence for the program’s success (https://www.clark.wa.gov/sites/all/files/community-development/project-data/2016-OctJobsReport.pdf), however their fellow councilors didn’t agree that adequate causation was proven that the Fee Waiver Program was responsible for the rebound from the recession.
“When something has been successful, why would you change it?’’ Mielke said. “The council majority said they didn’t know what was making the economy successful, but we know what’s making it successful.’’
Madore also campaigned against the Columbia River Crossing and he and Mielke believe they were contributors to its eventual demise.
“The disaster of the Columbia River Crossing is what got my attention in the first place,’’ Madore said. “We were on the path to become another Detroit and it didn’t have to be that way. They were telling us almost daily in The Columbian (Newspaper) that it was a done deal, just give up and let it happen. They were going to steamroll over the citizens whether we liked it or not and they spent $200 million to make it happen. Very few citizens win against such a massive amount of money. Thank God we won by one vote in the senate.’’
Mielke is also proud of his fight to have Clark County adopt the motto “In God We Trust,’’ and display those words on the wall over the shoulders of where councilors sit in the council meeting room.
“I’m really proud of that,’’ Mielke said. “That was another big win.’’
At the same time Madore promised to continue to fight for the citizens of Clark County, he hoped that other citizens would step forward to serve just as he did the past four years.
“When I stepped into this role, I stepped in as a private sector guy taking my turn to serve our community,’’ Madore said. “It’s been a privilege to do so. I encourage other people who care about our community, especially those with decades of business experience, to step up and take their turn too.
“I wasn’t after a legacy,’’ Madore said. “My motive from the very beginning was to have somebody from the private sector step up and help business. I’m thankful, as best we could, we accomplished that goal. Clark County is booming again, back to work, prospering and thriving. We had hoped that was the kind of good fruit that would unfold but we didn’t know for sure. But, when you unleash free enterprise, it’s the free enterprise that brings the good fruit. Government just has to get out of the way and let good things happen by the private sector.’’
Citizens, others show their appreciation for outgoing councilors
After their final meeting as members of the Board of County Councilors, Tom Mielke and David Madore were honored Tuesday at a reception in the council meeting room on the sixth floor of the Public Service Center.
County Chair Marc Boldt and County Manager Mark McCauley graciously made presentations to Mielke and Madore, as did citizen Anna Miller, representing Washington Citizens for Responsible Government.
“I couldn’t be more grateful to David and Tom,’’ said Miller, who served as Madore’s assistant for the first three years of his tenure as a commissioner. “In every deliberation they took, they always considered how this was going to impact the citizens they represented. They always considered that first above everything.
“When Tom was there (without Madore), he worked very hard to try to make sure they would never enact a policy that would hurt us. But, he was by himself,’’ Miller said. “We were very grateful when David agreed to step away from his wonderful life to devote to the county.
“We had extreme unemployment, property taxes were being raised every year, we had extremely high building fees, we were in a deep recession,’’ Miller recalled. “The answer to that seemed to always be ask for more sacrifice from the citizens. That wasn’t working. When David came in, they enacted pro business, pro citizen, pro jobs policies that many of us believe contributed to a great and quick turnaround for our community.’’
Miller was paid by Madore to be his assistant for three years before she retired about a year ago.
“He paid me out of his own pocket,’’ Miller said. “My job was to help citizens with their complaints and concerns. That’s all I did when I was down there. For eight hours a day, the citizens had direct access to their representatives through me. There was not a day that went by that David Madore didn’t respect me, appreciate me and value my council. It was a wonderful experience for me.’’
Miller said it wasn’t always a wonderful experience for Madore.
“Unfortunately, because David is a reformer and he moved very quickly to enact these reforms, he ran into a buzzsaw in the form of entrenched politicians and left wing media and that resulted in the Charter coming in and, unfortunately, bringing more big government politicians back on the council,’’ Miller said. “Then, they proceeded to undo all the good work that was done. We’re sad about that, but we’re very grateful that we had David and Tom for the time that we did.’’
Miller praised Madore for standing up to fierce opposition during his tenure on the council.
“We hope that what happened to David won’t discourage others from stepping up to serve,’’ Miller said.
Camas resident John Ley is another citizen who has been outspoken in support of Mielke and Madore’s efforts.
“The citizens of Clark County have been well served by David and Tom,’’ Ley said. “They were two true servants of the people. A year ago, the budget was balanced, debt was being paid down at an accelerated pace, and the county had restored some of rural land owners’ lost property rights. Under David and Tom, the council had approved a budget that allowed citizens to keep more of their hard earned money. Now, we see the first tax increase in years, the county is borrowing new money to pay for significantly increased spending, and government bureaucrats control the agenda. It’s a sad loss for the citizens.
“I want to thank them both, but especially David Madore, for showing us what ‘might have been’ in terms of government truly serving the citizens,’’ Ley said. “Godspeed, and thank you for serving the people.”
Many others flocked to social media to comment on the departure of Mielke and Madore from the council.
“Today, we say goodbye to Tom Mielke and David Madore,’’ said Clark County Assessor Peter VanNortwick. “I want to say it has been a pleasure serving with both of these men. We may not agree on every issue, but in politics that rarely happens. I have enjoyed Tom’s humor and consistency. I will miss hearing his chuckle in his mic on CVTV. I always knew when it came to labor contracts or employee hiring throughout the county, I would always have a fellow commissioner that would agree with me. Tom has his own view of the world and stayed consistent to that view throughout his public service. I thank Tom for his service.
“We also say goodbye to David Madore,’’ VanNortwick added. “David is truly a good man. I have enjoyed working with him and his drive to do what he thinks is best for the citizens. I see two parts of David’s tenure in office. The first part when he had Anna Miller and David after Anna. David was smart knowing that Anna could help him and she was vital to his successes in my opinion. Whatever people may think of David, how he operated, and what he accomplished he always was working toward what he felt was best for the people. I have been critical of two things David did, one being the labor contract and the second the way he tried to cut property taxes. What I have seen over the past few months tells me he has taken that to heart and learned from it. I hope David isn’t a stranger and continues to advocate for the people of Clark County.
“I wish both David and Tom the best as they go forward in life,’’ VanNortwick said. “I am proud to have served Clark County with both of you. Thank you Tom and Thank you David for your service.’’
Area resident Bruce Samuelson also chimed in on Facebook.
“Like any politician, there is good and not so good … there is never just one of those,’’ Samuelson said. “Like Peter (VanNortwick), I didn’t always agree with their positions but, I would approach them respectfully to present my thoughts. I was never talked down to by either of these gentlemen. Good luck in your future endeavors David Madore and Tom Mielke. Thank you for your service.’’
And, Jeremy Luciano posted a comment along with a photo of himself and the two councilors.
“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant!’ … Matthew 25:21 NIV,’’ Luciano wrote. “These two amazing men beside me have put God 1st in their lives and when serving Clark County.’’
Vicki Caldwell Kraft, state representative elect from District 17, added on Facebook, “David Madore and Tom Mielke, I’m sorry I wasn’t able to join today, but thank you for all your efforts for the citizens. God bless.’’