Stewart vague about why she didn’t challenge Leavitt

Vancouver City Councilor Jeanne Stewart and challengers Ty Stober and Alishia Topper met with The Columbian’s editorial board this week for a group interview, which will help the editorial board decide which candidates to endorse in the Aug. 6 primary.

As the city government reporter, I was allowed to observe (and tweet).

Editorial page editor John Laird asked Stewart why she didn’t challenge Mayor Tim Leavitt. She’d been widely rumored to run against Leavitt, Laird pointed out. So what happened?

Stewart didn’t directly answer the question. During a rambling response which included lots of long pauses, she said yes, she thought about running against Leavitt but said when you take on the incumbent you better make “dead sure” you stand a very good chance of winning. (For Stewart, a loss against Leavitt would have meant leaving the council.) She mentioned that some people are reluctant to take sides and endorse a challenger, and it’s all about money, and she told other potential candidates who approached her that they should run regardless of what she decides. She said she was surprised more people didn’t file against Leavitt. Ultimately, she said, it was “external issues” that factored in her decision not to run for mayor.

Publisher Scott Campbell asked Stewart if she could cite a few of those external issues, and she said no.

Laird said skeptics (probably referring to himself) would say that if she thought she could have won, she would have filed against Leavitt.

Stewart then said she had people who told her she could have prevailed, and she thought she could have prevailed.

Instead, according to Councilor Bill Turlay’s account, he stopped by the Clark County Elections Office late Friday afternoon during filing week and when he found out that Stewart was just filing to keep her seat, and nobody had filed against Leavitt, he decided on the spot to run for mayor.

Stephanie Rice

Stephanie Rice

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

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