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After Surprise Withdrawal, 1 Candidate Remains In Vancouver Mayoral Race

Vancouver mayoral candidates Anne McEnerny-Ogle and Steven Cox at a League Of Women Voters of Clark County candidate forum on June 12, 2017.

Vancouver mayoral candidates Anne McEnerny-Ogle and Steven Cox at a League Of Women Voters of Clark County candidate forum on June 12, 2017.

Molly Solomon/OPB

Vancouver mayoral candidate Steven Cox says he is ending his campaign. That leaves Anne McEnerny-Ogle as the only remaining candidate in the race.

Cox, who won a little more than 20 percent of the primary vote in August, campaigned on a conservative platform of small government, low taxes, and advocated for a third bridge crossing over the Columbia River. 

The news of Cox’s decision to withdraw his candidacy came after comments he made to the Vancouver City Council Monday night during a citizen’s forum.

Cox accused city councilman Jack Burkman of telling him to “back off,” saying his First Amendment rights were violated. Cox claims this happened after he was critical of a city development project at a recent neighborhood association meeting.

Burkman says he did not attend the neighborhood meeting and has never met Cox.

“I do not quietly accept attacks like this, so I am speaking out … and yes, I’m pissed,” Burkman wrote on his Facebook page Monday night.

When reached later by phone, Burkman voiced his frustration over the accusations.

“Integrity is a value I hold very dear,” he said. “And for someone to accuse me of shouting them down when they were speaking, effectively using the power of my office to silence them, bothered me greatly.”

Cox ended up apologizing on Burkman’s post and shortly after issued a letter announcing his withdrawal from the race.

“I falsely accused an innocent man of wrongdoing,” wrote Cox. “Jack Burkman is an upstanding citizen and credit to his community and I sincerely apologize for mistakenly using his name. The shame is mine and not his.”

Cox, a military veteran who served 36 years, says he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and does not believe he can continue to have a public life.  

“Integrity violations are inexcusable and my only redemption is self-exile,” he wrote in his withdrawal letter. 

Cox also said he has resigned as chairman of the Burnt Bridge Creek Neighborhood Association, as a precinct committee officer, and from the Republican Party. 

Cox’s departure means that Anne McEnerny-Ogle, who currently serves on the Vancouver City Council, will run uncontested to be Vancouver’s next leader. Vancouver Mayor Tim Leavitt is stepping down after nearly a decade in the position.

McEnerny-Ogle said despite the candidate shake-up, she’s still running a campaign.

“Nothing changes. This is still a race,” she said. “That means getting out there and doorbelling, being at farmer markets, going to forums because that’s also where we hear what our community wants as mayor.”

Clark County officials said withdrawing this late in the election season means Cox’s name will still appear on voter pamphlet guides and the November ballot. If he wins the race for mayor, the council will be tasked with appointing someone in January.


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