Small cities, little influence

And now a special post from transportation reporter Eric Florip, who had to spend Valentine’s Day with the C-Tran Board of Directors:

It’s tough being the little guy.

In the ongoing debate over who should vote on C-Tran’s planned sales tax measure this fall, Clark County Commissioner Steve Stuart and Vancouver Mayor Tim Leavitt have offered two of the most prominent voices.

Perhaps that’s not surprising. The Vancouver City Council and the county commission represent six of the nine votes on the C-Tran board. The rest of Clark County’s smaller cities — the ones who may or may not be included in the vote to pay for light rail operations — share the remaining three seats.

At this week’s board meeting, Stuart made it clear he wants that decision made sooner than later. He pushed for a solution as soon as March, before he and other board members indicated April might be their target.

That’s partly because the small cities’ representatives balked at the fast-tracked timeline. Bill Ganley, the voice of Battle Ground and Yacolt, said he’d like more time to take the conversation back to those communities. So did Connie Jo Freeman, speaking for Camas and Washougal.

Jim Irish, La Center’s mayor, took a more realistic view: It doesn’t really matter what we small cities think, he said flatly. Vancouver and the county hold bloc veto power, anyway.

The remark drew a good laugh in the board room, and some presumably reassuring words from Stuart, sitting next to Irish during the Valentine’s Day meeting. But Irish’s comment also drew this response from C-Tran Executive Director Jeff Hamm:

“He’s right.”

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