Defining success for Benton

Clark County commissioners discussed the May 1 hiring of state Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver, to the position of director of Environmental Services again at this past Wednesday’s board meeting. That’s been a wee bit of a hot topic lately with the public outcry, the cursing about and the angry, angry words being shared.

So I suppose it’s news to say that the three commissioners finally talked calmly on the issue.

Clark County Commissioner Steve Stuart said two weeks ago that he would be asking the board to reconsider the hiring as it broke the rules they agreed to at the start of the year. It appears that won’t happen, though, as Stuart is now asking a new question.

“How do we actually determine what success looks like,” Stuart asked Clark County Commissioners David Madore and Tom Mielke.

What Stuart is poking at is an updated job description.

Madore has contested he already gave County Administrator Bill Barron an updated job description. That’s true. But Madore also lamented on his Facebook account recently that Barron never updated the job description on the county’s website, contending that was a major reason for the public concern.

The job description is still not updated online. And that is because Barron can’t do that with just Madore’s direction. The update needs board approval, which hasn’t happened.

Really, at this point, all of that is procedural. Benton has the job. And it’s not like Madore or Mielke are going to vote against it or anything. But Stuart does say he wants it to eventually happen for posterity. And he’s asking for it to come before the board for a discussion.

The only time things got a bit feisty in the talk is when Madore asked Stuart to submit his own input on the position that had already been hired against Stuart’s vocal May Day disapproval.

“I invite you, if you have different ideas or you have your own input to go ahead and submit that as well,” Madore said.

“We already hired someone, so I want to know how we judge this person that you guys hired,” Stuart said. “Me creating something doesn’t get me to; we have a person in there. Now how do we actually judge performance? How do we actually, what are the standards that that person is fulfilling, so that I can know, ‘this is what success looks like’.”

A little testy, sure. But hey, at least no one is raising their voice. That’s progress.

Stuart also said they should hash out expectations for Benton considering he is a sitting state senator.

In response, Mielke said: “Number one, we come first.”

Erik Hidle

Erik Hidle

Erik Hidle covers Clark County government for The Columbian. He can be followed on facebook at, on Twitter at @col_clarkgov or contacted by email at

Scroll to top