All Politics is Local

A few more things about replacing a county councilor

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Katia Delavar counts votes during the The Clark County GOP Central Committee meeting to nominate three candidates to fill the empty seat on county council at the Lupke Center on Tuesday night, Jan. 15, 2019. (Nathan Howard/The Columbian)

The process to fill the District 4 vacancy on the Clark County Council has been steadily moving along since Republican Eileen Quiring gave up her old seat earlier this month to become council chair.

On Tuesday, the Clark County Republican Party’s precinct committee officers nominated three people to replace her. Next week, the Clark County Council could make its final decision.

But as the processed has advanced there’s been a few side stories.

‘Normal citizen’

Last week, Quiring sent out an email to the county’s Republican precinct committee officers asking them to nominate GOP activist Brook Pell to fill the vacant seat. Pell was co-chair of Quiring’s campaign for council chair, which Quiring mentioned in her email. Quiring’s endorsement raised eyebrows and concerns that she was unduly trying to influence the process.

During the public comment period at Tuesday’s county council meeting, Bridget McLeman said that Quiring’s endorsement violated the county’s ethics code, which prohibits elected officials from using their position to secure employment for others.

“It wasn’t a good start for me,” McLeman said.

Later in the meeting, Quiring responded by pointing to state law and administrative code that specifies that she retains the right to express her personal views on any candidate or ballot measure as long as doing so does not involve the use of public facilities.

“I did not use county equipment,” said Quiring, who sent her email endorsing Pell on her personal email. “This was all on my own personal equipment and in my capacity as a normal citizen.”

Tom Mielke can still get votes

At the Tuesday night meeting of the Clark County Republican Party Central Committee, former county Councilor Tom Mielke stood before the 117 precinct committee officers to make the pitch for why he should get his old job back.

“You may not recognize me because of my crazy and fun beard,” Mielke said. “It’s crazy because my wife hates it. I’m having fun with it.”

In his speech, Mielke highlighted his work hiring deputies and on county finances, as well as how he knows “who to trust and who not to trust.” He left out the part about how he tried to recall the council’s majority voting bloc in 2016 before he retired.

Under the committee’s voting rules, each candidate nominated for the empty council seat needed to get a majority of votes and each precinct committee officer was permitted to vote for three. Mielke didn’t quite meet that threshold, but still mustered some support. In case you’re wondering, here are the results from the first ballot:

Tom Mielke: 32

Shane Bowman: 41

Brook Pell: 53

John Ley: 61

Chuck Miller: 12

Richard Rylander Jr.: 32

David Knight: 8

Greg Boynton: 42

Herb Maxey: 11

Gary Medvigy: 58

Thomas Schenk: 4

Because only Ley got a majority of votes, a second ballot was called that multiple candidates dropped their names from. Precinct committee officers were allowed to vote for two candidates this time. Pell and Medvigy ended up advancing. Here are the results:

Shane Bowman: 30

Greg Boynton: 41

Tom Mielke: 25

Richard Rylander Jr.: 31

Gary Medvigy:  59

Brook Pell: 63

Blom and Olson have already voted

Both Republican county Councilors John Blom and Julie Olson declined to publicly support any of the candidates seeking the appointment. But both have already have already cast votes for the next county councilor.

In addition to their roles as county councilors, Blom and Olson serve as elected precinct committee officers and were present on Tuesday to cast votes.

“I was elected by the people as a PCO,” Blom said. He said that voting as a precinct committee officer isn’t too different from him casting votes in general elections.

“It’s part of our responsibility as PCOs,” Olson said.

Neither would disclose who they voted for.