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Oregon gubernatorial candidates offer views on I-5 Bridge replacement

Ken Vance Editorial Clarkcountytoday.com

Editor Ken Vance looks back on the two-year anniversary of ClarkCountyToday.com

Over the next few weeks, our news staff here at ClarkCountyToday.com will be offering you stories and other content in an attempt to help you prepare for the Nov. 8 general election. Our coverage will obviously focus on the key races that impact Clark County voters.

One race we will not be reporting on is Oregon’s race for governor between Democratic Gov. Kate Brown and Rep. Knute Buehler, who is running as a Republican. The race is close, with latest reports indicating the incumbent Brown has a small lead over her challenger.

Oregon’s gubernatorial candidates offered their thoughts earlier this week on the replacement of the I-5 Bridge. Photo by Mike Schultz
Oregon’s gubernatorial candidates offered their thoughts earlier this week on the replacement of the I-5 Bridge. Photo by Mike Schultz

The two candidates had their final debate on Tuesday and one of the topics they addressed was what to do with the I-5 Bridge. According to the report of the debate presented by OregonLive.com, both candidates said they support a new Interstate 5 Bridge.

“Buehler said he supports tolls to expand highway capacity but not to change driver behavior,’’ OregonLive.com reported. “Brown said she won’t move forward on the project until Washington, which scuttled the last coordinated attempt at an interstate bridge, commits to a funding mechanism for the project and accepts light rail as a component of the project.’’

The comments, especially those by Brown, don’t come as a surprise. But, I’m glad the conversation has finally re-emerged enough that elected officials are participating and stating their positions on the subject publicly. That’s the only good news.

The bad news is there is a great divide between lawmakers in the two states, much wider than the Columbia River itself. As a result, efforts to replace the I-5 Bridge or to address the need for additional lane capacity or corridors are likely headed to the same inevitable conclusion of the failed Columbia River Crossing.

Each time we’ve been asked, a majority of Clark County citizens have said we don’t want light rail. Oregon’s governor just reminded us this week that she “won’t move forward on the project until Washington … accepts light rail as a component of the project.’’ There’s plenty of our elected officials who are prepared to ignore the fact that a majority of their constituents oppose light rail but thankfully enough of them will dutifully represent the will of the majority of us.

So, since the only real coordinated effort that exists today is a movement by many to put together an I-5 Bridge replacement project, I repeat that I have very little hope that anything will be accomplished anytime soon. I’ve said it before, I no longer believe we will see any significant traffic congestion relief, let alone a solution, in my lifetime. My son will turn 28 years of age later this month, I’m starting to doubt whether it will happen in his lifetime.

Because of that reality, when selecting which candidates you will vote for in the upcoming general election, I hope you take the time to consider how each feels about our traffic congestion problems. Our coverage in the next few weeks will offer you that information, just as we have done in past coverage.

Our second anniversary

I let it pass with little or no fanfare, but the second anniversary of our news organization came at the end of September. My, how time flies when you’re having fun.

I’m happy to report that in July, August and September, we set records each month for total visitors to ClarkCountyToday.com. In fact, in the last year, traffic to our website has essentially doubled. So, we have a lot to be thankful for and a lot to be excited about looking ahead to the future. From the beginning, we’ve had a loyal base of visitors to our website and that foundation of visitors just continues to grow.

There’s many reasons for our success. At the top of that list is the vision and support from our Owner and Founder David Madore. David offers us the freedom to continue to grow and try new ways of presenting the news to you. He’s an inventor and he knows the only way to reach new heights is to try new things, even if some efforts end in failure. Each time we see him, his only message is, “what can I do to help you succeed.’’ And, he provides us all the tools we need to do just that.

The members of our small staff also deserve a great deal of credit. I’m thankful to everyone who has been a part of our staff over the past two years, some of whom have moved on to prominent roles with other news organizations in the region.

The staff members we have now are among the best journalists and professionals that I’ve ever worked with. We’re still a small enough organization that I can mention each by name: Administrator Heidi Wetzler, Designer Andi Schwartz and Photographer/Videographer Mike Schultz have been with us since the beginning and Reporters Paul Valencia, Chris Brown and Jacob Granneman have been key acquisitions along the way. Each staff member has made significant and measurable contributions that have led to our success.

We are humble and grateful to those of you who have patiently participated in our growth. We look forward to the future with great anticipation and excitement. Clark County is a tremendous place to live and we enjoy bringing you the news of what’s going on in our community.

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About The Author

Ken Vance, Editor

Ken Vance got his start in the newspaper industry in 1987 as a reporter at The Columbian Newspaper in Vancouver. Vance graduated from Stevenson High School in Stevenson, WA, and attended Clark College in Vancouver. He worked for The Columbian from 1987-2001. He was most recently a staff member of The Reflector Newspaper in Battle Ground, where he served as editor since 2010 and reporter since 2007. Vance’s work in the newspaper industry has won him multiple awards, including a first place award from the Society of Professional Journalists for in-depth reporting.

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