Thursday, July 9, 2009

Following Up After Today's Forum

This morning,Vancouver's Downtown Association hosted the first mayoral forum of the race. Thanks to the VDA for organizing it, and to everyone who attended--we had a good turnout, especially for so early in the morning!

Good points were raised all around, and the audience had a lot of great questions. Since we were in a forum structure instead of a debate, I wasn't able to respond to some of the misleading statements put forth by my opponent, Mr. Pollard--so I'll tackle them here!

Is Bigger Really Always Better?

Asked about his vision for our city, the incumbent replied that "we need to be big; that's the only way anyone will pay attention to us." Respectfully, I beg to differ. Certainly, growth is often good. But growth for growth's sake alone is short-sighted. As we've seen in our current recession, bigger ISN'T always better: if there's no foundation to support the building, it will crumble. The truth is that Vancouver and SW Washington will make progress only with leadership that has earned respect in Olympia with collaboration and teamwork--not with size alone. The old swatting the fly with a hammer approach hasn't worked yet and it won't work in the future! The reality is that Vancouver will never have a size advantage over the entire Puget Sound region--and it's foolish to try. We will gain influence in Olympia with fresh, forward-thinking, and respectful dialogue.

The Incumbent Will Go To Japan To Grow Jobs, But He Won't Go Up To Fourth Plain?!
During the forum, my opponent emphasized repeatedly that he is willing to go anywhere, anytime, to try to get big businesses to relocate here. Japan, have to wonder where Vancouver fits in to this picture. Instead of focusing on the city he's supposed to be running, Pollard is spending city money to jet off to different states and countries to try to woo businesses that have no vested interest in our community. We've got incredible talent and resources here, and we need to be working with the people who already live and run businesses here to help them be as successful as possible. Mister Pollard should spend a little less time traveling and a little more time in his own backyard.

Who's the Candidate With Real, Strong Relationships?

The incumbent is quick to say that he's "got the relationships" necessary to get things done, and he points to our state and federal representatives. But the truth of the matter is, those elected officials need Vancouver as much as, or more than, we need them. They want to be able to show that they have our support--it doesn't matter WHO the Mayor is--they're smart people and they're not going to alienate the sitting Mayor, whose support makes it seem as though they have a connection to our area. What's more important are the relationships with the entities we need to work with every day to make the city run effectively-- county commissioners, other neighboring cities, city and county employees, and citizens--all of these are strong relationships I have, and have been building one by one, person to person, over the last 29 years. These are relationships I work on and grow every day--not just when I'm running for office. This is supported by the endorsements of the unions that represent City employees and C-Tran employees. Those that have the experience of working with me on a regular basis know that I listen and collaborate across the board.

The Citizens Should Get to Decide On Tax Increases to Fund Major Projects
We were asked about funding for a build-out of Main Street. The plans are complete, but they've been shelved because the city doesn't have the $10 million it would need to complete the project. How would we find that funding? The incumbent said that there are a lot of projects that have been shelved during his time in office, and he's not sure how, but we'll "find the money." If it's anything like the way he's "found" money in the past, it'll be by raising fees, raising utility costs, and raising sales tax--things the public is not required to vote on. But every increase like this makes it even harder for our businesses and our citizens to be successful. What he doesn't seem to understand is that the more successful our businesses and citizens are, the more successful the city will be. It's HARD to run a successful business. Why is the city adding extra barriers, making it even harder for our own citizens to succeed? There will certainly be times and projects that need extra income from the citizens--but the citizens should have the right to vote on whether or not it's important enough to them to make that sacrifice. A well-reasoned, well-coordinated campaign to rally support in our community, will bring the support needed--and encourage public investment in resources that benefit us all. City Hall shouldn't be arbitrarily adding taxes and fees because they can't balance the budget without doing it.

True Leadership
In closing, the incumbent said that in our current times, we shouldn't be looking for a Mayor who makes a lot of promises.
And he's absolutely right.
We should be looking for a Mayor who KEEPS them.
Which is why I look forward to being your next Mayor.

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