All Politics is Local

The county council opened its gorge commission interview to the public. Did anyone show up?

When the Clark County Council holds its Tuesday evening meeting, it’s not uncommon for them to approve appointments to various citizen advisory committees and boards. These appointments are one of the least controversial items of business and usually sail through on the consent agenda. 

But a recent appointment has attracted more public attention than usual. Last month, the council heard from members of the public concerned about how the county was proceeding with appointing its representative to the Columbia River Gorge Commission. 

Under the Clark County home rule charter, the county manager makes appointments (subject to council approval) to many boards and commissions. But the 13-member gorge commission has an expanded scope, overseeing policies and programs in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, which covers six counties in Oregon and Washington. 

In response to public concerns, the council (after consulting with legal) determined that because the commission was created by a bi-state compact and authorized by federal law, the county’s appointment process doesn’t need to follow the process laid out in the charter. Wanting to bring more transparency to the process, the council opened interviews with candidates for the appointment to the public. 

On Wednesday, the council held interviews with Jaci Margeson, Steven Clark and Robin Grimwade (not everyone who applied was called for an interview). On Thursday, the county announced that the council appointed Grimwade, vice president of corporate projects at Columbia Credit Union and member of the county’s planning commission, to the gorge commission. He succeeds Damon Webster. 

So how was public turnout at the interview? Council Chair Eileen Quiring (the council’s spokesperson) said in a text that she was unable to attend the interviews due to an injury. But Councilor Julie Olson, who serves as the council’s vice-chair, said in a text that four people observed the interview.