All Politics is Local

Adrian Cortes is against raising taxes too

Adrian Cortes, a Battle Ground city councilor who is running as a Democrat against Republican Clark County Councilor Gary Medvigy, wants you to know that he’s also against raising taxes. In a video Cortes posted to Twitter today, he said this “policy issue probably distinguishes me from my opponent more than many other things.”

Does that mean that the Democrat in this race is more opposed to tax increases than the Republican? The short answer seems to be: it depends. Here’s a longer answer:

Today’s paper included a profile of Medvigy, a recent transplant from California who was appointed to the Clark County Council in January and is running in a special election to keep his District 4 seat. 

Because we’re in Clark County, a political profile wouldn’t be complete without some sort of exploration of where the candidate stands on the issue of taxes. Medvigy has made clear that he opposes raising property taxes on Clark County residents to pay for infrastructure upgrades in an undeveloped area north of Vancouver along 179th Street. While Medvigy said he’s resistant to raising the levy used to support the general fund, he didn’t completely foreclose on the idea.

In reporting the story on Medvigy, I discussed the issue briefly with Cortes. But I figured we could wait just a little while before really hashing out their differences on taxation and other issues because it’s not even Memorial Day, the primary and general elections are months away and didn’t we just have an election (it sure feels like it)? But this is District 4 and taxes. Plus we’ve now entered a permanent state of electioneering.  

The District 4 county council seat Medvigy and Cortes are running for is the most rural and conservative district. In 2016, Republican Eileen Quiring became the first person elected to the seat after the home rule charter was passed in 2014. She carried the district with 62 percent of the vote over Democrat Roman Battan.

Quiring, who has since been elected council chair, has closely associated her political brand with opposing increases to the property tax levy used to support the county’s general fund. Tom Mielke, a Republican who held her seat while the home rule charter was implemented, also resisted tax increases.

Cortes told me that he wouldn’t vote for an increase in property taxes until “the county gets its fiscal house in order.” He said that means making sure the county does a better job of soliciting citizen input. He called on the county to take a methodical approach and go through a “visioning process”  to gather broad public input on planning, transportation and other issues.

“I’m not supporting an increase of any tax increases right now,” said Cortes.

Cortes also mentioned payroll issues with the sheriff’s office and questioned if the county should subsidize growth in an unincorporated Clark County near 179th Street.

Since the story ran, Cortes posted a video on Twitter where he stressed his opposition to raising property taxes and called for prioritizing community wants and needs.

“We need citizens in the driver’s seat, not politicians,” he said. “Stop the waste. Stop subsidizing growth. Better planning. Increased community input.”