Friday, October 9, 2009

City of Vancouver Follows Leavitt's Lead, Suspends Fee Increases

Press Release issued today:

Vancouver, Wash. – On October 8, Vancouver City Manager Pat McDonnell released a statement that he will be asking the City Council to suspend previously approved fee increases for building permits and development review activities. In addition, the city's Transportation Department will ask City Council to forgo the annual adjustment to the Transportation Impact Fee (TIF) Program for 2010.

Vancouver City Councilman and Mayoral candidate Tim Leavitt commends McDonnell for taking these steps. Leavitt has been fighting for the creation of local jobs and business growth throughout his time on City Council. “It’s business in the private sector that creates jobs. We need to make it easier and less costly for potential employer to hire more of our residents,” said Leavitt, “this action makes the City of Vancouver a part of the solution, not a part of the problem.”

As recently as December 8, 2008, Leavitt argued against increases in Transportation Impact Fees, noting in his remarks during a Council workshop that raising fees is an action detrimental to bringing businesses and jobs to Vancouver. Said Leavitt during that meeting, “I submit, Council, that if we really want to make some bold decisions about increasing the attractiveness of our community to businesses … I think we really need to look at an alternative to the impact fee program.”

In this important election year, Councilman Leavitt is pleased to see his suggestions and directions take root, and looks forward to helping Vancouver create its own economic recovery.

Clark County Association of Realtors Endorses Leavitt for Mayor

I am proud to post the release from the Clark County Association of REALTORS®, announcing their endorsement of me for Mayor of Vancouver. Thank you to the Board of Directors and to all of the membership. I look forward to serving you, and the the rest of our great city, as the next Mayor of Vancouver.

The Board of Directors of the Clark County Association of REALTORS® has voted to endorse Tim Leavitt in his bid to become Vancouver’s next Mayor. “We are endorsing Tim Leavitt because of his support of REALTOR® issues.” said Sherri Adams, 2009 CCAR President. “Tim has a keen understanding of the many complex issues facing our growing community and more specifically, the issues facing our industry. A man of character, Tim has consistently demonstrated a pro-business philosophy in opposing fee hikes and taxes on business and citizens while serving on the Vancouver City Council. As Mayor, he has the vitality to lead the charge to improve the business climate in Vancouver,” said Adams.

“Tim has exhibited a willingness to work cooperatively with neighboring jurisdictions. He understands the importance of funding transportation projects that truly improve mobility and the City of Vancouver’s role in maintaining healthy job growth in Clark County. He has demonstrated leadership to seek efficiencies at all levels of Vancouver City government. He has also made public safety a top priority by leading the charge to put more police officers on the road,” said Adams.

According to the Clark County Association of REALTORS® Tim Leavitt supports the ideals of the REALTOR® Quality of Life program which recognizes the need to sustain and enhance the quality of life enjoyed by Washington’s citizens. REALTORS® believe better communities can be built by supporting quality growth and seeking sustainable economies and housing opportunities that embrace the environmental qualities county residents cherish, while protecting a property owner's ability to own, use, buy, and sell property. REALTORS® don't just sell homes, they sell communities - they sell Quality of Life.

After an interview process was conducted by CCAR’s REALTOR® Political Action Committee, the decision to endorse Tim Leavitt for Vancouver Mayor was ratified by the Board of Directors.

The Clark County Association of REALTORS® represents nearly 1,500 real estate professionals. Together with its members, CCAR is committed to improving the quality of life in local communities and providing housing opportunities for all who desire to own their own home.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough ... Show Their True Colors

I'd like to thank Clark College and Poli-Sci Instructor Michael Ceriello for yesterday hosting a Vancouver mayoral forum.

It was refreshing to see so many different faces in the audience, diverse in age, ethnicity, background and area of study. There must have been some 150+ students and others on-hand to ask questions of me and my opponent about our positions and the future of Vancouver.

Clark College is a tremendous asset for our community. I'm proud to be an alum, and continue to be active on campus as an Alumni Association Board Member, a new member of the Penguin Athletic Club, and the sponsor of a scholarship. I encourage each and every one of you to also remain engaged with the College once you've finished your education there. We need your support!

Participants asked great questions, ranging from improving parking/access to the College to addressing homelessness to the proposed bridge crossing and tolls. As candidates, we also made opening and closing remarks about why we are running for the position and our vision for the future of Vancouver.

I want to apologize, on behalf of my opponent, that you were short-changed by his closing remarks. Rather than speaking to why he believes he is the candidate to be retained for just another four years, he chose to spend most of his time stooping to a new low. Rather than defending his 14-year record, or informing you about how he promises to grow beyond it, he decided it more important to sling barbs at my personal voting record at the ballot box.

I'm sorry that you were then indoctrinated into the sometimes-ugly side of politics.

And that ugliness speaks to the character of the person.

When times are tough, we see the real character of a person.

Actions reflect attitudes, beliefs and moral values.

In politics, when desperation sets in…when it is looking as though a loss is at hand, you learn the true nature of a candidate's character. And my opponent, we are learning, when faced with the toughest challenge of his political life, goes negative and gets dirty.

Vancouver deserves better. And in November, with your support, we'll get it.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Creating Jobs and a Strong Local Economy

Expanding Vancouver's job base requires the experience and leadership of somebody who actually understands how business works.

As a successful small business person here in our community, I know what it takes. In fact, on creating real jobs in our community, the scoreboard reads Leavitt 43; Pollard 0.

Managing budgets, being held accountable for revenues and costs, hiring and letting employees go, evaluating progress versus goals, and insuring the bottom line is in the black – this is the kind of job-creating experience and financial background I will bring to the Office of the Mayor. Having grown an office of professional, family-wage positions from 2 to 45 in the past decade –- this is the kind of experience and knowledge needed to further grow jobs throughout our community.

In our society, the private sector creates jobs and economy. Local employers hire staff and drive employment. Local business generates personal income for personal spending, thus generating sales taxes, property taxes, and employment taxes. It is business that provides economy and jobs, bringing the revenues into the City so that services can be provided.

For the past 20 years, the incumbent hasn’t gotten it.

Contrary to his political rhetoric, the evidence clearly shows that his efforts have failed to bring about jobs for our community.

And now, even while he claims that he's not running on promises, he turns right around and makes the promise that he intends to spend the next four years becoming Vancouver's 'jobs mayor'?

Enough of the political double-speak.

Where are the facts to back up his claims of creating jobs? With the highest unemployment in the state of Washington, evidence clearly points to the contrary. And for those who are fortunate enough to have jobs, 60,000+ Clark County residents still travel to Portland each and every day to go to a job that they CAN’T find here in Vancouver.

Forbes Magazine recently ranked the State of Washington as #2 in our nation for business-friendly environment. How is it, then, that Clark County and Vancouver have an unemployment rate that's nearly 1.5 times higher than the national average?

Our local businesses and employers continue to let staff go, continue to struggle with high taxes and continue trying to navigate the City's cumbersome permitting process.

In the meantime, the incumbent brags of traveling to Japan five times, as well as to Texas and California, to attempt to bring new business to Vancouver. What is there to show for these efforts? Nothing. There is no relief in sight, nothing in the near future, for local business growth and more jobs. Had the incumbent spent more time here in our own community, talking with local businesses –- those small and medium-sized companies that ARE the backbone of our jobs and economy -– we might have more jobs in Vancouver. But 20 years of misplaced priorities leave us with the highest unemployment in the State of Washington, more local businesses closing doors, and more of us traveling to Portland to look for work.

It isn't government's responsibility to create jobs, but local government can create a positive environment and opportunities for BUSINESS and EMPLOYERS to create more jobs. And setting the stage for more jobs means considering how heavily we are taxed and to what effect, and how difficult it is for our local businesses to get permits and licenses.

Every time taxes are increased, local small and medium-sized employers are forced to re-evaluate plans for expansion, plans to increase productivity, and plans to hire more employees.

The incumbent has created an increasingly hostile job-growth environment in Vancouver. In his 20 years, he has fought for and voted in favor of every single tax and fee increase, and done nothing to cut permitting bureaucracy and red tape. That is his answer every time there is a decision about services and revenues; his voting record is all you need to see.

My opponent is sadly mistaken to think that piling more and more taxes on our community and our employers will create more jobs. But, given that he has no business experience, has never had to work competitively to earn a paycheck, has never been responsible for a real-world budget, and has never been accountable for the bottom line –- it’s not surprising that he is comfortable continuing to tax the rest of us into unemployment.

Nearly every day, I work with property owners, builders, developers and local government departments to help permit projects. Over the years, as both a Planning Commissioner and as your City Council member, I’ve fought for stronger protections of our natural resources, coupled with reductions in red tape, process and timelines for gaining permits. For an employer wishing to expand operations or move to our community, the City’s current permitting process and timeline can be a deal-killer.

My opponent has no such experience or record, and he appears to see the city’s businesses and residents as little more than “cash cows.” He has consistently voted to increase and add unreasonable fees, and to make the permitting more complex and drawn-out than it needs be.

Interestingly enough, after 20 years spent in this way, he appears to have read and liked my proposals and platforms—-since he is now parroting them verbatim despite all evidence to the contrary.

Some progress has been made in recent years on permitting and red tape, but not enough. I’ve met recently with city staff and representatives from the development community to discuss further improvements. There will be improvements with new leadership. There will be better job opportunities with new leadership.

City Hall must set the stage for immediate local economic recovery and jobs creation.

Leadership that has the right experience.
Leadership that actually has created well-paid jobs.
Leadership that is willing to work with, instead of against, our local employers.

This is how we will get people back to work.
This is how we will create more job opportunities here in our own community.
This is how we will minimize the need for Clark County residents to have to commute to Oregon for a job (and pay that Oregon Income Tax).
This is how we will create more local economy to support government services.

This is how Vancouver must move forward.