In 2012, Washington State, by public vote, legalized recreational sale & use of cannabis. Shortly after legalization, however, the Clark County Commission voted to ban sales of recreational cannabis in unincorporated Clark County – a policy that the current County Council perpetuates.
Cannabis is legal, folks, and the current ban deprives Clark County of millions in lost revenue at a time where the County has an $11 million structural deficit. The tax revenue collected will not only help us towards solving an ongoing fiscal gap in the county budget, it will allow us to hire more deputies and improve response times. As your County Councilor from District 1, I will push to end the archaic ban on recreational cannabis sales in Clark County.
A properly functioning permit center is essential for Clark County business to continue to thrive and provide much-needed jobs on this side of the Columbia River. The dysfunction and delays at the Permit Center stems directly from a lack of leadership on the County Council by abruptly firing previous County Manager Mark McCauley, then taking over a year to hire a new Manager.
County Commissioners of the recent past & current County Councilors have failed to develop the positive relationships with County Executive Management that helps create an efficient & functional county government. As a proven & effective leader, I will help in developing a positive work environment so that Clark County can foster job growth, not inhibit it, and deliver services to Clark County residents in a timely fashion.
Housing prices & rent continue to rise faster than people’s paychecks in Clark County, and many of these families are one paycheck away from homelessness. The County Council needs to be pushing for solutions to this problem, not acting like a passive bystander while our neighbors continue to suffer.
I propose that the County Council convene an Affordable Housing Taskforce that will investigate the benefit & viability of various methods for addressing the affordable housing crisis, such as inclusionary zoning, an affordable housing trust fund, small-lot development, relaxing Accessory Dwelling Unit restrictions, and other innovative housing solutions.
Right on the office campus of the county offices and court house, a tent city is now to be seen every night. Even as the economy continues to improve in Clark County, our homelessness crisis worsens, meaning we cannot brush the issue aside as cyclical. The county response has been lethargic, unimaginative, and slow. It’s time for new thinking; tired slogans and routine responses aren’t working.
We need to build public-private partnerships that would result in more affordable housing. The county must also lead the way in addressing root causes of homelessness; coordinating medical and mental care, addictive substance care, and other services to help get people into housing. A housing emergency means we look at everything to safely calm housing prices and bring social services to the homeless and people at risk of going homeless.
Congestion on I-5 has a substantial economic impact on Clark County, and much of it is due to an antiquated bridge that is seismically unstable. Last year, the legislative delegation from Clark County, minus a couple members, proposed a bill to fast-track the conception & construction of a new I-5 bridge. Nearly every locality in Clark County signed on to support this bill, with the notable exception of the Clark County Council.
The County Council should be working with our cities & legislative delegation to improve congestion issues on I-5, but has again acted as a passive bystander. There are numerous citizen & legislative groups here in Clark County that are actively working on bringing Oregon to the table in terms of a solution to the I-5 bridge, and we need a County Council that will work with them in order to solve our common transportation problems.
Clark County Jail
Clark County is a wonderful place to live, and that’s shown by the fact that the crime rate has not increased at the same rate as our population has. That being said, our jail here in Clark County was built in 1984 and only has 300 beds. Our current needs are at least 600 beds, and our future needs by 2036 will be over 1,100 beds.
Despite our crime rate decreases, our population increases have caused our jail to be overcrowded, and construction of a new jail has become a necessity. I believe that the best option is to go to voters with a bond in order fund the construction of a new jail to address this issue quickly, and to ensure that incarcerated individuals have a safe experience at our Clark County Jail.
Clark County Grown Jobs
We have all the ingredients we need to create more quality jobs on this side of the river. Today we have four year and postgraduate state university, WSUV and our outstanding Clark College. Clark County has a technology corridor and is home to a diverse set of growing industries. We need a proactive approach to attracting investment and jobs. However, a community of our size would typically have more jobs in proportion to homes.
Part of solving the commute is to work to bring the jobs into Clark County that people today must commute into Oregon to get. A coordinated effort between the county, cities, and leaders in business and labor could make this happen. We can do more together, and I know how to bring people together from different levels of government and the private sector to get results.