Bowerman, a Republican, replaces John Blom in District 3
VANCOUVER — There was no party, no hand on a Bible or handshakes of congratulations. Instead, Clark County’s newest councilor fought through audio problems during a virtual swearing-in ceremony on Monday, four days before officially taking office.
Despite the difficulties presented by a pandemic-era-swearing-in ceremony, Karen Dill Bowerman beamed a broad smile as she repeated her oath of office, administered by Clark County Clerk Scott Weber over WebEx, and broadcast live on CVTV.
Bowerman will take over for John Blom as the representative for District 3, the council’s smallest geographical district, which includes most of eastern Vancouver out to the boundary with Camas, as well as the Orchards area of unincorporated Clark County.
Blom, who changed his party affiliation from Republican to Independent ahead of the August primary, pulled in just 21.57 percent of the vote. Bowerman led with 44.3 percent, with Democratic political newcomer Jesse James garnering 33.89 percent.
In the Nov. 3 General Election, Bowerman initially trailed James after the first results were reported, then pulled away to win by 1,623 votes.
Following her oath of office on Monday, Bowerman pledged to put aside the “rah rah” of the campaign and take her elected duties seriously.
“I want you to know that I not only take it seriously,” Bowerman said, “but I am very much looking forward to it.”
During her campaign, Bowerman focused on small business and job development, along with “less government control and regulation.”
“Business must experience a clear pathway from Clark County as new business emerges from the closures we’ve had the last few months,” Bowerman said during a debate ahead of the general election.
During her comments on Monday, Bowerman noted the council would be faced with serious questions in 2021, as the area works to recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“January 1, my start date is a holiday. Then there’s a weekend,” she said, “so January 4 it really begins and I look forward to that.”
Clark County’s home rule charter form of government, which created the council districts and a strong county manager position, is also going to be under scrutiny via the Charter Review Commission, a 15-member group of elected leaders, most of whom were also sworn in Monday.
“We all have a new year coming up,” Bowerman concluded. “2021 will be a different year from 2020, thankfully. It’s been a tough year in so many ways.”
Bowerman is expected to move the council in a more conservative direction, aligning more with County Chair Eileen Quiring O’Brien and District 4 Councilor Gary Medvigy.
While, technically, Bowerman’s election makes four Republicans on the Clark County Council, with District 1 Councilor Temple Lentz the lone Democrat, District 2 Councilor Julie Olson is seen as more centrist and her votes often do not align with those of O’Brien and Medvigy.
In a recent interview with Clark County Today ahead of the general election, Medvigy said he hoped Bowerman would win in order to give the council “three conservative votes to get things fixed.”
Bowerman, on Monday, just said she’s “excited” to get to work, and hopeful the council can work together for the good of Clark County’s 488,000 residents.