Councilor Tom Mielke stands up for the press


Councilor Tom Mielke

Councilor Tom Mielke did something I’ve never heard him do before: he encouraged better communication with the press.

Wait. Stop the presses. Mielke, who so rarely returns my phone calls and refuses to answer my questions, wants improved relationships with the press? Has anyone seen my jaw? I seemed to have dropped it.

During board time Wednesday, Mielke, who is running for county chair, suggested that the board just adopt the statute outlined in the charter that establishes the county chair as the official spokesperson for the board. The current county chair, though it’s largely a symbolic position for now, is Councilor David Madore. Though not elected, he was appointed to the position by his fellow councilors.

“Sometimes we either don’t communicate with the press or we give mixed messages to the press,” Mielke said.

“We still have a responsibility to get it out to the press as to what the board is doing and where the board has landed in unanimous decisions or majority decisions, so we stay on message,” he continued.

I’m so excited by this prospect that I don’t even know where to begin. I’m all about having better relationships with the county councilors, of course. Though, with all due respect, Councilor Madore, if you ever take me up on my open invite to lunch, you’re driving.

The council didn’t decide to make any kind of official policy, though Councilor Jeanne Stewart said such a policy should only apply to official communications—a press release or a quick quote on a vote the board took, for example. Stewart, for example, could and should be able to chat with me about her personal opinions on any given vote. Or, you know, organic gardening, as we tend also to chat about.

Madore, meanwhile, said nothing, though I did try to make awkward eye contact with him during the better part of this conversation.

Mielke burst my bubble pretty quickly, though. I asked him after the meeting if he wanted to set a precedent and schedule time for coffee in the next week or two to talk about his chair campaign, but he turned me down. He’s too busy but he’ll get back to me next week, he said. I guess we’ll find out.

Mielke is running for Clark County council chair against both of his fellow councilors. All three are Republicans. Also in the race are Battle Ground City Councilor Mike Dalesandro, a Democrat, and former Commissioner Marc Boldt, a conservative-leaning Independent.

Kaitlin Gillespie

Kaitlin Gillespie

I'm the education reporter at The Columbian. Get in touch at or 360-735-4517.

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