Leavitt, Stewart agree on at least one thing

During citizens’ communication on Monday evening, the Vancouver City Council heard from a few people who want the council to pass a resolution supporting a constitutional remedy to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling. In Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, justices said free speech allows corporations, unions and individuals to spend unlimited amounts of money on political campaigns, so long as they are independent of the candidates and political parties.

You can read about a nationwide effort to get all levels of governmental bodies to denounce the Citizens United ruling here.

During some back-and-forth with the speakers about the role of big money and special interest groups in political campaigns, Vancouver Mayor Tim Leavitt gave a different perspective.

“There’s no doubt there’s influence,” Leavitt said. “At what point  — and I’m just playing devil’s advocate here — do we say, you know, there’s some personal responsibility and personal accountability for folks to think before they vote, investigate, not be so influenced on what you might hear on the radio or see on TV,” he said. “Because we seem to take everything we hear as the gospel, when unfortunately that might not be the case.”

(Cough. Bridge tolls. Cough.)

Councilor Jeanne Stewart chimed in, saying she routinely hears from people who say they want campaign contribution reform, but she didn’t want to single out corporations. Instead, she wants the federal government to make meaningful reforms.

“This country is really past the time where we can keep going year after year. It’s become an escalation,” she said.

“It is true that big money can make a big difference in campaigns,” Stewart continued. “What the mayor said, if somebody can buy one minute on TV in primetime, whatever they say, a lot of people are going to see that and not use checks and balances in their own brain, not be skeptical about it, not say, ‘Well, I don’t really believe that,’ or ‘What did they really mean.’ He’s right about personal responsibility,” she said.

Let’s repeat that, because it’s not heard often from Stewart about Leavitt: “He’s right.”

Speaking of campaigns, Leavitt is running for re-election and doesn’t yet have a challenger, at least no one who has publicly declared. Stewart is also up for re-election and has one declared opponent so far, Ty Stober.

Stewart hasn’t said publicly whether she’ll seek re-election or challenge Leavitt. Filing week is May 13-17.

Whatever happens,  just remember Leavitt’s and Stewart’s advice: Don’t automatically believe every political ad.

Stephanie Rice

Stephanie Rice

I cover Vancouver city government. Reach me at stephanie.rice@columbian.com or 360-735-4508.

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