Each election, politicians seem to say whatever we want to hear, promising no tolls, promising to create jobs, promising to eliminate over-regulation, promising efficient financial management, and whatever else we want to hear. How can we know what they will actually do after being elected?
Isn’t a person’s track record the surest indicator of their future performance? Would we expect one who shipped Clark County jobs overseas to create local private jobs, one who increases the size and cost of local government, to then be resourceful and improve efficiency, one who allows millions to be wasted each month on the CRC, to then be wise with our taxes, one who presides over continuous decline and stagnation, to then foster new prosperity, one who does not speak up to help citizens, to then be a champion for citizens after being elected?
Too often, rascals who want to get elected, say whatever will get them elected. Once elected, they use that office as a license to rule over and overrule the people. Our Declaration of Independence, our US Constitutions, and State Constitutions all say otherwise. The authority entrusted to elected representatives is only as valid as their continued respect for the consent of the governed.
Like two football teams, there are two opposing forces on the field. Faithful representatives play for the people, their allegiance is to the people, they defend the people from those that would take advantage of them. The others play for the people’s pocketbook. Winning to them is outwitting the taxpayers.
The Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) requires the money spent to fight for or against each candidate to be revealed. Follow the money. I pledge to not accept any money from any individual or organization that contracts with the county including C-Tran, TriMet, public employee unions, mining companies, card rooms, rail companies, consultants, contractors, or other service providers paid by public funds. Such contributions might color our public decisions. Our allegiance should be to the people and to serve their interests only.
Can we know them by their fruits? As a steward of a healthy prospering debt-free business that provides 120+ great jobs here in Clark County, I believe that the same principles that bring prosperity and blessing to businesses are universal. We can apply those same sensible principles as stewards of our county so we can all prosper and thrive.
We’ve opened the floodgates to local private jobs, working hard to make smarter decisions with our taxes, getting government out of the way so businesses can prosper again.
Clark County job growth now leads the state.
In a nut shell, here’s what we would do.
The unaltered original text from my 2012 campaign is preserved below in RED so you can see exactly what I said I would do. I am accountable to you, my bosses. The BLUE text shows the progress made on each task.
- Withdraw all support of the CRC Light Rail Tolling project. Ensure that gas taxes (road user fees) improve roads to relieve congestion and provide for the safe efficient flow of motor vehicles, pedestrians and bikes.
We provided a county-wide vote on the CRC Light Rail Tolling project. 223 out of the 228 total precincts voted against it. We respected the people’s voice and fought hard to kill the CRC. That disaster wasted $200 million before the gross waste was stopped. Some rascals are still trying to revive the zombie. We will continue to diligently defend our community from be exploited. Clark County citizens will not become a new tax base for Portland TriMet. Not on my watch!
- Light Rail and Bus Rapid Transit are boondoggles for Clark County. Clark County citizens must not become a new tax base for Portland’s monstrous TriMet bureaucracy. TriMet has over $1.3 billion in unfunded liabilities.
We won the battle so far against Light Rail and tolls. But we lost the BRT battle so far because we were outvoted on every hand by the majority of the C-Tran Board Members that keep voting against the majority of the people. C-Tran’s costs continue to skyrocket. Ridership continues to decline. Special interests signed our local control over to financially troubled Portland TriMet with absurd contracts that are costing Clark County citizens millions. Voters that trusted C-Tran’s promise to “save our buses” and not use our taxes for BRT have been betrayed as C-Tran failed to improve our bus service. They are using our entrusted taxes for BRT instead even though the people voted to oppose funding BRT. A number of citizens are suing C-Tran in several suits. We could still have great local bus service that more people would use for a fraction of the cost. But to improve C-Tran, our community will need to elect more local representatives to faithfully represent the people.
- Remove the excessive permit fees that hinder businesses from growing. Those fees yield very little to our county budget, but are large deterrents to the growth of local businesses. The new growth would provide a more sustainable tax-base for the county in the long run.
Since June 2013, we made Clark County the most business friendly community on the West Coast by adopting our Fee Waiver Program that waives all fees for all new and expanding business. We traded in our old Ford Pinto at the back of the pack for a shiny new Ferrari to lead all other communities in the economic race. Hundreds of millions in new local wealth is being created. Our cash balances are healthier than ever as new revenue is lightening the tax burden for everyone and providing for better county services while we keep a lid on taxes.
- Developers and builders should be allowed favorable terms for any fees that cannot be removed.
Builders have flexible options. It may be possible to collect residential permit fees near the end of a project so the builder would not need to borrow to pay the fees earlier. That last part is still on my ToDo list.
- The permit process is too expensive, long, complex, inefficient, and undefined. We can fix it.
We completely rebuilt our building permit center (it’s beautiful and efficient) and adopted new next generation web friendly permit management software to replace our outdated Tidemark system (paid cash – debt-free). We streamlined our processes and lowered our costs. Cost savings have increased our cash balances to be very healthy. Our customer friendly staff is now better equipped as enjoy making our customers successful.
- Stop over-regulating. Just as an activist judge should not be making law, the county should not be adding unnecessary burdens that are not clearly required by state or federal law. Revise any existing regulations that fail to provide necessary and practical safety and good environmental stewardship.
We’ve improved our code enforcement to ensure that it is complaint driven rather than our staff looking for offenders. We’ve simplified numerous processes and lowered associated fees. There are still areas of our county code that we need to go through. And we are committed to continue doing so.
- Property taxes are too high. We can improve efficiency and cut costs just like private businesses have done and just like citizens have already done in their homes. We must balance our budgets, not by raising taxes, but by cutting fat and improving efficiency.
We voted not to raise property taxes in 2013 and 2014. In addition, we protected citizens from larger increases in the future by not “banking capacity” to raise taxes.
- Live within our means. Plan ahead and save for projects incrementally to avoid debt. Ensure that we focus on core services. Police, fire, roads, emergency services and parks take priority over nonessential government programs that increase the cost of living.
Without raising taxes, our staff found smarter ways to improve services while cutting costs, we exceeded our cash reserve targets for best recommended practices for healthy counties, we funded 8 new sheriff deputies, re-opened the closed pod of our jail to add 142 extra beds and provided the 9 new custody officers to staff it, and rebuilt other needs for our sheriff that had been cut by previous boards. There is still work to be done to strengthen our sheriff’s department under the excellent leadership of our new Sheriff Chuck Atkins.
- Invite competition for county services to improve customer service and lower the cost to taxpayers.
Volunteer help is welcomed and provided more than ever as we removed previous limits their help and extended liability insurance that once prevented volunteers from contributing in more practical ways. Adding more visibility to potential suppliers has been improved.
- Ensure responsive government. When citizens speak, it should not be limited to one way communication. Commissioners should listen, ask questions and address those issues with the citizens and staff. Restore two-way communication at public meetings.
Anyone who has watched the recorded videos of our county meetings can easily see that we engage in meaningful two way conversations with our citizens so they know they are heard and their concern is addressed.
- Remove entrance fees from parks. Our property taxes already pay for parks. Charging an entrance fee for a publicly funded park is double taxation and discourages people from using our parks.
We removed all park entrance and boat launch fees and restored outstanding lifeguards to Klineline in 2013. Park Fee Collectors were retrained as Park Ambassadors to help our guests. We started managing our own county parks instead Vancouver City and saved hundreds of thousands in the process. Our parks are better cared for and beautiful. We built two new parks last year and are planning to build two more next year.
Users need to pay $10 to park at Battle Ground Lake to use the new million dollar Chelatchie Prairie Railroad Trail. Our parks are already paid for with property taxes. It is double taxation to charge citizens again to use them, neither should simple trails cost taxpayers $1 million per mile to build. I am a fan of walking and bike trails that can be built for much less money and be free to use.
The trail is less than one mile and one of the simplest and flattest to build, right next to the railroad tracks. Something is grossly out of whack when such a simple trail with 2 benches and no bridges cost taxpayers more than a million dollars to build.
I am a fan of walking and bike trails. But we can build them for a lot less money. We don’t need higher taxes or discouraging user fees. We need new leadership to do more with less.
The park fees have been removed for all Clark County Parks and Boat Launches. Parks controlled by the state and Vancouver City are not controlled by the county. So citizens still pay to use those parks. Clark County leases three parking spaces from the state at Battle Ground Lake State Park that are available for people to use the trail there at no cost. Volunteers are doing a great job building new trails and with maintaining existing trails.
I welcome your feedback. I am listening.