Charter could mean new faces on C-Tran, RTC boards

This week’s approval of a home rule charter could have a ripple effect beyond just Clark County government.

The new charter could also bring some new faces to the boards of C-Tran and the Southwest Washington Regional Transportation Council.

All three county commissioners now have an automatic ticket to both transportation-related boards. But with the three-member commission converting to a five-member county council, not everyone will get a seat at the C-Tran and RTC tables.

The RTC board’s membership, which includes several jurisdictions, won’t change when the new county government takes shape. Clark County will still get three seats, just as it does now. That’s spelled out in the interlocal agreement established when RTC formed in 1992, according to Executive Director Matt Ransom.

C-Tran is a little more complicated. The membership of that board could change, but not because of the charter. C-Tran is undergoing a board composition review process that started more than a year ago, and could conclude as soon as this month.

We know this much: Clark County won’t gain any seats on the C-Tran board. If anything, the county will lose one. There appears to be at least some momentum to give the smaller cities more representation on the C-Tran board, but by law it can’t have more than nine voting members. So any gain for the small cities would come at the expense of another jurisdiction — likely the county or the city of Vancouver, which hold three seats each.

In any case, the county will likely have to decide for itself which of its five councilors will sit on the C-Tran and RTC boards.

The county may find itself suddenly empowered on the C-Tran board if it manages to keep three seats and its veto power intact (which is yet another question mark). Should the county choose an all conservative-leaning contingent — say, David Madore, Tom Mielke and Jeanne Stewart — it could throw a wrench into some of the efforts now backed by Vancouver and the rest of the board.

Madore and Mielke have found themselves on the losing end of a lot of votes during the last two years. But they’ve never gotten the third county commissioner — either Ed Barnes or Steve Stuart — to side with them and trigger a veto. A new face could change that.

Again, that’s assuming the veto power doesn’t go away. If it remains, there could be a lot of stalemates at C-Tran board meetings.

Good thing the Vancouver Community Library, where C-Tran board meetings are held, kicks everybody out at 10 p.m.

Eric Florip

Eric Florip

I'm the environment/transportation reporter for The Columbian newspaper in Vancouver, Wash. Contact me at or 360-735-4541.

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