In Vancouver, Washington the candidates for mayor are spending a few last, furious days trying to win over voters, in a close, non-partisan race that's also the most expensive of its kind in city history.
Mayor Royce Pollard, a fourteen-year incumbent, is fending off a challenge by Tim Leavitt, the city councilman who beat him in the August primary. April Baer reports.
Tim Leavitt is working his way through Vancouver's Fruit Valley neighborhood. He's trying to make the most of the momentum he picked up in the summer.
Tim Leavitt “How'ya doing? I'm Tim Leavitt, your city councilman. I'm running for mayor … we won the primary”
Leavitt squeaked ahead of Royce Pollard in the August primary by just 43 votes.
The Candidates On The Bridge
We asked both candidates what single issue they'd most like to talk to voters about.
Both chose Columbia Crossing - the new bridge being planned to span the Columbia River between Washington and Oregon.
Specifically, they wanted to talk about the tolling that federal and state officials say will be necessary to complete the local piece of the bridge's funding package.
Here's what they had to say.
He hasn't let up, campaigning his way through the fall, posting signs everywhere from Fruit Valley to Portland's Jantzen Beach, where Vancouver commuters can't fail to see them while crossing the bridge.
A civil engineer by trade, he's lived in Clark County since grade school, and has spent several years building name recognition in Southwest Washington politics.
Tim Leavitt “This economic downturn has we're in has exposed a lot of cracks in the sidewalk, if you will, here in the community. I think having a business background, and now more than ever, we need a fresh perspective, and a fresh set of eyes looking at the challenges we're facing.”
Leavitt has made friends with some groups that tussled with Pollard during his long tenure, like the Vancouver Police Guild. Leavitt's also tapped support in unexpected places, like the Latino community.
Royce Pollard is aware that voters may be in the mood for something different, and he says his record shows he's adaptable.
Royce Pollard: ” I have been the agent of change in this community for 14 years.”
Pollard has been at the helm in Vancouver through the go-go 90s real estate boom. But he's also been around for the bust, as Clark County's unemployment has risen to 13.2 percent. Pollard says he offers voters a known commodity in an uncertain time.
Royce Pollard “They get 14 years of proven leadership, 14 years of relationship building all over this country.”
He's implied more than once on the campaign trail that his experience will help lead the way back to prosperity for Vancouver.
The mayor's race hasn't been cheap, and interest in it reaches far across the river.
Pollard's campaign has raised $155,000 - more than $8600 of that coming from people and political action committees in Oregon. Leavitt's raised $123,000, with $2100 of it coming from Oregon.
While many organizations have taken sides, the Greater Vancouver Chamber of Commerce has not made an endorsement.
Chamber President Kim Capeloto, says the voters who'll decide the election are in a unique state of mind right now, having seen their city enjoy such a rich expansion, then fall so far, so fast.
Kim Capeloto “If I am speaking with my son, who's presently between jobs, he probably has a different point of view than someone who is currently employed.”
Capeloto says he likes both Pollard and Leavitt very much, and thinks either could be a good choice.
Kim Capeloto “This is very much like the '70s in Seattle, when the billboard was 'Will the last person leaving Seattle turn the lights off', when Boeing hit its crunch. We were very heavily dependent, here in Vancouver, on one particular segment.”
That segment, he says, is construction and real estate.
Capeloto thinks both candidates understand the electorate will be moved by a convincing vision of job creation, and notes both are talking a lot about economic development as they head into the final campaign stretch.
TAG: We asked both candidates what single issue they'd most like to talk to voters about. Both chose Columbia Crossing - the new bridge being planned to span the Columbia River between Washington and Oregon. Hear what they had to say at opbnews.org.