All Politics is Local

Gary Medvigy was very diplomatic on the Lars Larson Show

As Gary Medvigy steps up his campaign to retain his seat on the Clark County Council, he made an appearance yesterday on the Lars Larson Show, a local conservative talk show.

If you’ve ever listened to the show, then you’ve probably heard its host, Lars Larson, pillory the region’s political leaders.

During his appearance on the show, Medvigy, a Republican, vaguely identified some things he’d to improve in state and county government. But he found mostly nice things to say and resisted throwing stones even after Larson gave him some clear targets and a pile of rocks.

A former Army general and California Superior Court judge, Medvigy was appointed to a vacancy on the council in January and is now running against Battle Ground City Councilor Adrian Cortes, a Democrat, in a special election later this year.

Speaking on Larson’s show, Medvigy described his frustration transitioning from an Army commander with his “finger directly on the belly button of all operations” to a councilor with limited control over the county’s executive branch under the Clark County’s home rule charter.

“No one really works for me,” complained Medvigy.

He said he and other members of the council get phone calls, letters and visits from constituents seeking help. But he said providing that help is “really the province of the executive branch: our county manager and all his staff members. So we’re separated from that, and that’s frustrating for me.”

Larson asked Medvigy if the council sets policies for the county manager. Medvigy said that while that’s true, he said that on daily issues he and other councilors still have to go through department heads or the county manager. He said that creates a “filter” and that some county departments (he didn’t name names) don’t have a culture of being friendly to citizens.

“They don’t have the idea that they are working for the public,” he said. “They think the public is kind of there as an annoyance.”

As a county councilor, he said he has limited recourse. Larson pressed Medvigy on why the council doesn’t just press Clark County Manager Henessee on correcting departments that have bad attitudes toward the public. Medvigy responded that “government bureaucracy is a slow-moving target.”

Medvigy also repeatedly praised county Manager Shawn Henessee and the rest of the council, saying there are good people who work at the county.

“So I want to keep it on the upbeat,” said Medvigy. “I think we’re working well as a local government.”

Larson seemed unsatisfied with all this good talk about the government.

“Does the county do anything, any function, that it doesn’t need to be doing right now?” asked Larson.

“Let me blankly say, I think there are some,” said Medvigy, who added that Henessee was working diligently to find efficiencies and that the state has passed down some challenging laws that the county is charged with implementing.  

Larson asked Medvigy what kind of “ridiculous requirement” had been passed down from Olympia.

“You know I don’t want to pinpoint right now,” said Medvigy.

“Oh c’ mon,” replied Larson.

“I’m going to resist that question because I haven’t been here long enough to cast stones like that,” said Medvigy.

However, Medvigy did throw Larson a bone, criticizing the state’s Growth Management Act for taking away property rights and skewing the market for available land. He also criticized the Washington Supreme Court’s McCleary decision that mandated the Legislature fully fund basic education. He said the court went too far and became a “super legislative branch.”

Medvigy said he’s working hard to understand county government. Maybe next time he’s on the show he’ll have some stones to throw.