Opinion: ‘We can only hope for better actions from our representatives in the future’

Clark County Today Editor Ken Vance offers his perspective on the past week’s shenanigans pulled off by Clark County staff and elected officials.

Clark County Today Editor Ken Vance offers his perspective on the past week’s shenanigans pulled off by Clark County staff and elected officials

County Chair Karen Dill Bowerman called it “appalling.’’ Councilor Gary Medvigy said it was “an awful occurrence.’’ I believe a compelling argument can be made that neither of the councilor’s comments are strong enough to describe what took place in the past week.

Clark County elected officials and staff pulled off quite a coup this past week and the direct result of their political maneuvering is that almost $4 million additional taxpayer dollars will be collected from Clark County citizens in 2023 than would have had the chicanery not taken place.

Let’s retrace the steps taken in this disgusting example of political gamesmanship. 

Abrupt appointment of Sue Marshall to District 5 seat

A long list of those players involved in county business, including the County Council, were under the impression that all three of the candidate-elects from the Nov. 8 general election would be sworn in to their seats on Jan. 3. Those in the dark included Councilors Bowerman and Medvigy, as well as Councilor Dick Rylander, who was appointed by Gov. Jay Inslee to fill the District 5 seat earlier this year. Even Marshall, one of the three (along with Glen Yung and Michelle Belkot) scheduled to join the council in January, wasn’t aware that she could take her seat earlier than what was scheduled.

All that changed when Auditor Greg Kimsey called Marshall on Nov. 30 and informed her that she was eligible to take her seat on the council immediately. It is not known who else was aware that Marshall may take her seat earlier than planned, but Kimsey told me himself that he made the call to Marshall and gave her the choice as to when she would like to be sworn in.

Kimsey told me that he didn’t know why so many others involved in county business weren’t aware that Marshall could be sworn in earlier than expected. One obvious explanation is that he allowed the misperception to exist by not communicating his plans with anyone, or at least anyone that he was not colluding with.

So, just days before the County Council was scheduled to hold public hearings on the 2023 county budget, Marshall agreed to be sworn in immediately. Kimsey then orchestrated a combination of events that Bowerman called “the most unprofessional’’ of her long career in public service.

While the councilors, including Rylander, were gathering for an executive session, Chief Civil Deputy Leslie Lopez burst into the room with all the decorum of a bull crashing into a china closet and proudly stated to Rylander that “you’re done.’’ At approximately the same time, Kimsey himself was swearing in Marshall at a separate location.

Rylander had spent considerable time preparing for the budget process. After Marshall’s abrupt swearing-in, she had just a few days to prepare and her own testimony and questions during Tuesday’s budget meeting illustrated how woefully unprepared she was to be voting on such important county business. 

Oh by the way, there’s a recount underway

At the time the Nov. 8 general election was certified, Marshall held a lead of about 1,300 votes over Don Benton in the race for the District 5 seat on the council. Benton has reportedly paid $10,000 to have the county recount the ballots in 12 of the precincts in District 5.

Kimsey told me that elections officials finished sorting ballots into precincts Wednesday (Dec. 7) and the recount is scheduled for Friday (Dec. 9). This would seem to raise one significant question, if the recount hasn’t been done yet, why should Kimsey presume the recount is going to confirm Marshall’s election to office?

Instead, Marshall has already been allowed to take office and on Tuesday she was able to cast a series of very critical votes that will mean higher taxes for Clark County citizens. I’m not predicting the recount is going to change the outcome of the election, but what if it does? Isn’t that why the election laws allow a recount?

Those additional tax dollars

County staff and department heads are almost always going to ask for more resources, including staffing, during a budget process. So, it wouldn’t be hard to find a motive for those folks to have a vested interest in the outcome of the annual budget process.

In this case, prior to Marshall being sworn-in to the District 5 seat, it was widely known that Bowerman, Medvigy and Rylander would not be in favor of raising taxes on Clark County citizens. In fact, a couple of weeks prior to the scheduled budget process, Rylander stated in a public meeting that he would be voting against the county using its 1 percent annual property tax increase allowed by law, not to mention any banked amount. 

Tuesday’s actual vote of the current five councilors proves that it was much more than a conspiracy theory. As expected, Councilors Temple Lentz and Julie Olson, each in their final meeting on the County Council, voted in favor of tax increases and Bowerman and Medvigy voted against. Had Rylander been in the District 5 seat as planned, the property tax increases would have failed. Instead, Marshall was there to vote in lock-step with Lentz and Olson and voila, the tax increases were approved.

But it was only $7 a year

Some in the community think folks like me are protesting a bit too much in the wake of these events. It’s been said that the property tax increase is just $7 per year for the average property owner. Let’s take a closer look. There’s more context to be gleaned.

The approved 2023 budget includes a 1 percent and banked capacity increase for the General Fund, Metropolitan Parks District (MPD) Parks Fund and Road Fund tax levies as recommended by County Manager Kathleen Otto. 

Based on the median household price of $525,000, the levy increase will cost taxpayers an additional $7.19 per year for the General Fund, 90 cents per year for the MPD Parks Fund, and $26.55 per year for the Road Fund. These increases will generate an additional $1,311,776 revenue in the General Fund, $45,702 for the MPD Parks Fund and $2,463,824 in the Road Fund. That adds up to $3,821,302.

I don’t know about you, but even in a county with an annual budget of $753.5 million, $3.8 million is a lot of money. And, that comes in addition to the Public Safety Tax approved by voters, the upcoming increase in the gas tax authorized by Washington lawmakers, and the highest inflation rate in 40 years (which creates higher prices for groceries and other necessary items) and there is more than adequate cause for any citizens to have tax-and-spend fatigue.

Dysfunction on display

The event’s of the past week make one thing abundantly clear. There is serious dysfunction among elected officials and county staff in Clark County. And, it’s not the first time in the past year that has been painfully obvious. (We’re still waiting for Clark County’s disastrous redistricting process to be settled by the courts.)

There is a long list of examples of mistrust in the recent history of the County Council, the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, the Auditor’s Office and even the Clark County Sheriff’s Office.

For now, there is seemingly nothing that can be done about the additional $3.8 million in taxes you’re going to pay in 2023. It is clear that this round has been won by those who controlled the political puppet strings in the maneuvers successfully executed in the past week. But, in January there will be a new council. In the future, there will be additional elections involving county officials. We can only hope for better actions from our representatives.

Do you agree with the County Council's decision to raise property taxes?*
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Anna Miller
Anna Miller
1 month ago

Thank you CCT Editor Ken Vance. And thanks to Councilor Bowerman and Medvigy for looking out for us and having the courage to “out” those sketchy players. Kimsey was not recognized as a Republican by the Clark County Republican Central Committee, neither was Julie Olson. I think it is now abundantly clear why the CCRCC voted as they did. Don’t run as a small government Republican when you are really a big government liberal. My message to Bowerman and Medvigy. Don’t fight like gentleman Jim against a street fighter. They don’t play by the rules. Oh, yeah for those who say what transpired here was legal, so what. It was deceitful and shameful.

Rob Anderson
1 month ago
Reply to  Anna Miller

Yes! This go-along-to-get-along mentality will not work. Ask Mr Rylander how that worked out? Also, it’s time to work for less government, taxes & spending all the time, not when convenient. Gary, Karen & Dick spent a lot of money, increased taxes and spent A LOT up until now so their criticism is a little duplicitous but glad they are finally speaking up about it. We need a new County Manager and Councilors need better resolve to start a full-time pushback against this cabal that looks to tax & spend us into eternal servitude.

Sick of wackos like you
Sick of wackos like you
1 month ago
Reply to  Anna Miller

It seems to me that it would have been “deceitful and shameful” if Kimsey would have NOT notified Marshall that she was eligible to take office immediately per THE LAW. Would you have felt differently if Benton had won and he was the one sworn in? If you want to blame someone for this steaming pile of horse poop, blame council chair Bowerman for not being aware that this position was to be filed immediately after certification for both the temporary and permanent position.

Melissa
Melissa
1 month ago

That the position *may* be filled immediately, not “was to be filled immediately”. In a well-functioning county government, the auditor would have done the curtesy of notifying the council chair. I suppose it’s possible to suggest blaming Councilor Bowerman for naively trusting and not assuming that back-room politics were at play in the executive branch.

Wayde
Wayde
1 month ago

If Benton had received more ballots, you can bet Kimsleeze would not have got him in there before Jan. Kimsleeze represents all that is bad about Clark County govt.

Sick of wackos like you
Sick of wackos like you
1 month ago
Reply to  Wayde

And you seem to represent everything that is bad with the very vocal minority of Clark County.

Chuck Miller
Chuck Miller
1 month ago

Sick of the Looney Left that have destroyed Portland Oregon and Seattle Washington and trying to destroy Clark County Washington!!!

Chuck Miller
Chuck Miller
1 month ago

Anna Miller was spot on on All she stated!!! The Looney Left can not handle the Truth!!!

CORRUPTION GOES ON IN CC
CORRUPTION GOES ON IN CC
1 month ago

With all theses events happening this last week Temple Lentz and JulieOlson leaving they needed to make that move to make sure someone could get what they wanted done so it was important to Swear in Sue Marshall as D5 Councilor. Our County is Corrupt as you saw, there are so many GREEDY PUBLIC SERVANTS!!

There has to be some backdoor deals to vote the way they do…. “oh it’s only $7 more on your property taxes, Julie Olson said at the Meeting on December 6, 2022.” Sue Marshall who should have watched and listened and not taken part in the vote… said, “Yeah I know people are hurting, but we need this 1% to help those people hurting with Government Services.” how was she even allowed to be sworn in and vote on this when she had no clue of what was going on…. she sounded clueless… and the fact she was also talking about Civility which was a bunch of BS talk about talking out ones rear end. Remember there is a Partial Hand Count for Don Benton Friday and it’s going to be an embarrassment if he had actually won and no Sue Marshall.

Last edited 1 month ago by CORRUPTION GOES ON IN CC
Tired of right-wing nonsense in this county
Tired of right-wing nonsense in this county
1 month ago

The recount was never going to swing enough votes in the direction of Benton for him to win when it was all said and done. In fact, it handed Marshall two more votes.

You may not like what happened, but it was Marshall’s legal right to be seated as soon as the results were certified. Rylander would have known this would happen if he’d have only looked at the paperwork that he received when he was seated to fill the vacancy until election.

K.J. Hinton
1 month ago

Both Kimsey and Marshall are, and have been, democrats, endorsed by the democrats.

What did anyone realistically expect? That leftists like Marshall and lame duck democrats Olson and Lentz would actually want to discuss this budget in public before it was implemented? Or that Kimsey wouldn’t pull a leftist stunt like this?

Simple solution: review the budget in January and remove the tax increases with the conservative majority board.

Growabrain Elephants
Growabrain Elephants
1 month ago
Reply to  K.J. Hinton

Hinton you’re full of bullspit. Kimsey has always been a Republican. You nutwings like to call them Rinos when they don’t do what the Nut Wing Elephants of your party wants them to do, like responsive govern rather than year apart & destroy the fabric of our society, government, law, order, & yes taxes pay for that. Look at what’s happened in the Libertarian takeover towns back east: not good, just like Clark County where Republicans have cut taxes to the bone to appease y’all & crime is rampant. Idiotocracy is what you Republicans stand for.

Chuck Miller
Chuck Miller
1 month ago
Reply to  K.J. Hinton

Right On KJ!!!

Steve
Steve
1 month ago

Clark county has been historically underfunded. If it were not for AARPA funds, that won’t be duplicated, they would be slashing employees and services. I’m not generally in favor of tax increases but Mr. Vance’s conspiracy theories seem to be increasing at an exponentially accelerated rate.

Rob Anderson
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve

Underfunded or overspending? Sounds like “Steve” might lean on the tax & spend side.

Steve
Steve
1 month ago
Reply to  Rob Anderson

I do not lean on tax and spend. i also don’t lean on using AARPA funds as a sign that we are on budget. I prefer common sense, not political partisanship.

Rob Anderson
1 month ago

Spot on. The Democrats, through the lawyers & puppets like Kimsey, believe and act as they’re in full control.

Born in Washington
Born in Washington
1 month ago
Reply to  Rob Anderson

A puppet requires someone’s hand up their ass. No need for brains, critical thinking or a spine. Yep sounds like we have a convoy of local politicians fitting that description. Especially Temple and Kimsey.

Born in Washington
Born in Washington
1 month ago
Reply to  Rob Anderson

Maybe too many VAXX’s and flouride

Clark CO WA The Land of Corruption
Clark CO WA The Land of Corruption
1 month ago

Greg Kimsey and other Elected officials obviously had Marching Orders from Inslee and a lead for a George Soros funded organization… Backdoor Deals if they past a 1% tax increase, Sue Marshall knew what was going on, but The Columbian Newspaper wrote it up as if she had no clue that she could be Sworn in Earlier than Michelle Belkot and Glen Yung. The Letter about Dick Rylander being appointed by Gov. Inslee could have be forged the date being Change and some editing to make it look like he was done upon the certification. Are we going to let this corruption continue… this tax increase needs to be reversed… if Don Benton is perhaps the real winner than the vote that Sue Marshall made would be null and void and it would be consider illegal and they would have to go back to approve or not approve the Budget. We haven’t heard anything much about the elections and how can they Certify if Don Benton is having a recount and also Joe Kent as well.. I think the CERTIFICATION should be consider illegal at this point in my opinion. We haven’t heard anything with Brett Simpson, Rey Reynolds or anyone else that mattered in this election,

The Corrupt Cabal of Clark County Washington

Last edited 1 month ago by Clark CO WA The Land of Corruption
Sick of wackos like you
Sick of wackos like you
1 month ago

After reading this, I am embarrassed for you.

Tired of right-wing nonsense in this county
Tired of right-wing nonsense in this county
1 month ago

The recount Benton requested has already been finished. Not only did it not affect the outcome of the election, it resulted in Marshall getting 2 more votes than she had before (and 0 more for Benton).

Maybe lay off the conspiracy theories.

Myrna Leija
Myrna Leija
1 month ago

This letter written by Ken Vance is excellent. Thank you!

Crazy
Crazy
1 month ago
Reply to  Myrna Leija

Is it though? He’s the editor and, presumably, a reporter. Not the author or one person commenting has pointed to any part of the County budget that should be cut. I guess we could drop the tax and cut police, or reduce the courts already limited budget to let criminals go because we don’t have the money to prosecute? Maybe we should close County parks? We could let roads go to crap and go back to horses. Let’s cut the auditors office and see how elections go then. I’d wager the majority of the people complaining about a tax increase would be the first to complain about a pothole in a road or a lack of response time from police or some other lack of service from the County. Everyone wants something for nothing.
Maybe instead of complaining, someone could do some real reporting on where the budget increases are and why they are or are not necessary. That would lead to an informed citizenry and maybe even an intelligent conversation about where money should be spent. Until then, I suggest a sharp cheddar to compliment all the whining.

Born in Washington
Born in Washington
1 month ago
Reply to  Crazy

Your handle should be “moron koolaid drinker.” Accountability and responsibility for funds is the key. They said they have plenty of money. We do have potholes, inferior asphalt, not enough police. Throwing more money at problems is not the answer.

moron koolaid drinker
moron koolaid drinker
1 month ago

What is the answer? You seem to have one yet you keep us all in suspense. Do tell.

Rebecca Fuentes
Rebecca Fuentes
1 month ago

Someone please explain to me why do we have City Councilors or School boards to make our decisions for us? We are fighting a loosing battle. They will do whatever they want in Oregon, Washington and California and all the other Democratic states. Why aren’t our streets not safe? Why do we have high taxes? Why don’t they follow rules? Why are our states being destroyed? How do you think Democratic states stay the same. I am 73 years old and watched our beautiful states turn into trash. It goes in one ear and out the other. We have too much Government. We need to go back to voter’s ID, same day count, and no more weeks on end for counting endless voting cards. Take your states back people. Vote for whomever you want. Stop letting everyone else make your decisions for you. We are capable of making our own decisions.

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