The Columbian: has a roundup of primary night down here.
Vancouver Mayor Royce Pollard faces a heated battle to keep his job in November after waging a neck-and-neck struggle with Councilman Tim Leavitt in Tuesday’s primary.
Preliminary tallies released Tuesday night show Pollard with 43.1 percent of the vote, followed by Leavitt with 42 percent.
A third candidate, citizen activist Charlie Stemper, had 14.9 percent and will not advance to the Nov. 3 general election.
This should be a very interesting race to watch. As the article notes, Pollard is a 14 year incumbent, and the blunt former military officer has only once received less than 60% in a general election. Leavitt is campaigning on “change,” which is evident if you check out his web page. Remind you of anyone else’s?
There’s a generational component at play, with Pollard generally receiving backing from many long-time establishment figures. But Leavitt has secured some pretty impressive endorsements as well, including some union locals, various civic and community groups and of course, the Building Industry Association, the local BIAW affiliate.
Perhaps as importantly, Leavitt is endorsed by county commissioners Marc Boldt and Steve Stuart, whose party labels read “Republican” and “Democrat” respectively, but who in reality are both solidly in the BIAW camp.
There are long-standing frictions over growth between the county and the city, and one way to view Leavitt’s run is as an attempt by the pro-developer forces to take over the city government as well. The bubble may have burst, but the local bidness guys and gals are busy planning for the next one, and it would be great for them if the city doesn’t give them any trouble.
While there are the usual assortment of hyper-local issues, like redevelopment of Vancouver’s waterfront, the big regional issue at play is a new bridge over the Columbia River, ie the CRC project. This might wind up being a key factor in the race, with Pollard sticking to his vision of a completely revitalized downtown replete with waterfront, new bridge, capped freeway and light rail.
Leavitt has been pretty vocal about resisting tolls on any new bridge, which makes for good populist fodder, but doesn’t really match up with existing federal, state and local budget realities. Without tolls there won’t be a new bridge, as federal transportation funds aren’t what they used to be and there is strong political pressure in Oregon on the issue of cars coming in from the Washington side.
So to boil it down, the long-term incumbent and former military guy is the one with the vision for the future, including light rail and a more viable urban landscape, and the “change” guy endorsed by the BIAW is the one pecking around the edges, with the support of some Democrats, campaigning to stop a new bridge, even if he doesn’t say so explicitly.
It’s not that there aren’t real issues to address, and there are legitimate beefs with the city over where to put resources. The arts community is supposedly quite unhappy with Pollard over what they perceive as a lack of support, and many downtown merchants got their dander up early on about the possibility of light rail disrupting their businesses. Sprawl and traffic on the east side of town is as bad as ever, although over the last decade the city has made significant improvements in services delivered to that area.
The real issue, I suppose, may actually turn out to be the lack of funding for municipalities in general, and just how much less in basic services people want. There’s never any shortage of people to complain about taxes, and in this economy that would seem to work in Leavitt’s favor. This could wind up being the race of Pollard’s career.