The hard-hitting question Turlay couldn’t answer

Wednesday’s mayoral debate didn’t include any memorable lines, or much debate, for that matter.

Vancouver Mayor Tim Leavitt and Councilor Bill Turlay each answered seven questions from moderator John McDonagh that had been submitted by community members. They included no-brainers such as asking whether the candidates believe the city has a problem funding infrastructure (yes), whether the candidates are interested in annexing all of the city’s urban growth area (no) and what do they think about the youth (cue Whitney Houston.)

There was also a question about reaching out to minority groups and celebrating the city’s diversity, to which Leavitt talked about working with local chapters of LULAC and the NAACP while Turlay talked about moving citizen forums to the beginning of city council meetings from the end so that more people want to come to meetings.

Turlay and Leavitt were supposed to be able to ask each other two questions. Turlay asked Leavitt two questions related to the Columbia River Crossing. Leavitt asked Turlay to give specific examples of how the city is spending too much money, as Turlay has said before government spends too much money. (Turlay mentioned the parking garage the city recently sold, and Leavitt pointed out that when he first ran for mayor he cited parking garages as something the city should sell.)

McDonagh forgot to let Leavitt ask his second question of Turlay, and instead went on to the getting-to-know-you questions.

And here’s where he stumped Turlay.

Turlay couldn’t name the last movie he saw in a theater. His wife Stephanie called from her front-row seat, “Gone with the Wind.” I believe she was joking. Unless Turlay was 3 when he saw the movie

Leavitt said he went to see the latest “Star Trek” flick.

Here’s a sampling of other first-date questions:

Most recent novel? Both candidates prefer non-fiction. Leavitt said the last work of fiction he’d read (insert joke here) was “Jurassic Park.” When it was released. Leavitt said he has been reading “Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln,” by Doris Kearns Goodwin. Turlay said he has been reading a book about search and rescue missions in Vietnam.

Favorite style of music? Leavitt said Top 40, while Turlay said oldies.

What games are on your smartphone? Turlay said, “I have no idea” but mentioned that his wife plays, “Candy Crush.” (Don’t start, Bill. You’ll get hooked!) Leavitt said he just has his fantasy football app.

How often do you post on Facebook? Turlay said never, and he doesn’t have a Twitter account. Leavitt said he posts weekly on Facebook and doesn’t use Twitter as often.

Where do you buy your … groceries?  Leavitt got a laugh by saying he thought McDonagh was going to ask where he bought his suits. McDonagh said that has been established, referring to a 2009 mayoral debate when Leavitt said he buys his suits in Portland. As for groceries, Leavitt goes to the Grand Central Fred Meyer. Turlay goes to WinCo.

Most recently supported charities? Turlay said The Arc and Share, while Leavitt said the Salvation Army and the Children’s Center.

Favorite city park? Leavitt couldn’t decide between Esther Short Park and Leverich Park, which he has a soft spot for because that’s where he attended summer camps. Turlay said David Douglas Park, because of the ball fields.

Last time you rode C-Tran? Leavitt said he rode the bus to the Sleep Country Amphitheater for the July 19 John Mayer concert. Turlay didn’t give a time frame, but said he rode the bus to Portland so he could ride light rail.

Favorite west Vancouver restaurant? Leavitt said Lapellah, while Turlay said Tommy O’s and Thai Orchid. As for east Vancouver, Turlay said what sounded like Thai Palace, but I believe he meant Thai Terrace, which is what Leavitt named. Feel free to correct me in the comments below. I can’t bring myself to review the tape.

Can you name your neighborhood association? Leavitt said Ellsworth. Turlay said this was an easy question, because he doesn’t have one. He’s Cimarron-adjacent, but he and his neighbors haven’t been successful at organizing one.

Hey, I’m just grateful McDonagh didn’t ask that infamous question posed to President Bill Clinton during a 1994 MTV forum with young voters:  “Boxers or briefs?”





Stephanie Rice

Stephanie Rice

I cover Vancouver city government. Reach me at or 360-735-4508.

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