Tilting at windmills

Besides being responsible for the day-to-day operations of county government, Clark County Administrator Bill Barron has another role to fill: explaining literary references to commissioners.

During board time with the commissioners on Feb. 2 — board time is a weekly meeting where anything and everything gets discussed — talk turned to upcoming forums that Barron and Kelly Sills, the county’s economic development manager, will be hosting for people interested in running for one of 15 freeholder positions.

The forums will be in Vancouver, La Center, Battle Ground and Camas.

Commissioners agreed to go through the home rule charter process to appease a small group of residents; voters have turned down proposed charters three times.

The people (Washington Citizens for Responsible Government, a group whose members share ideals promoted by the Tea Party) who lobbied for the charter process are annoyed that the county is holding the forums, as they feel like they know everything and assume they will be elected.

The county is hoping for a good turnout at the forums and want a diverse group of freeholders.

What if nobody shows up at the forums?

Commissioner Steve Stuart said he hoped they weren’t “tilting at windmills.”

Commissioner Marc Boldt asked him what that meant.

Stuart admitted he wasn’t sure.

But Barron, who had been talking to Sills, was quick on the draw.

He explained that the phrase is dervived from the novel “Don Quixote.”

It can refer to fighting imaginary, or unwinnable, battles.

That’s not quite what he meant about the home rule process, Stuart said after the meeting. He meant to question whether it is a battle worth fighting.

Barron has estimated going through the process, including staff time, will cost more than $100,000.

Aspiring freeholders will have to file for office in April and will be on the November ballot. Once elected, they will have three years to get a proposed charter on the ballot for voters to accept or reject.

What could a charter change about county government?

Go to a forum and find out.

The first forum is 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday at Clark College’s Foster Hall, 1933 Fort Vancouver Way.

Other forums: 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. March 10 at La Center High School; 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. March 24 at Dollars Corner Fire Station in Battle Ground; 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. April 7 at the Camas Library; 7 to 9 p.m. April 20 at Washington State University Vancouver in the administration building, room 110; and 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. May 5 at Union High School in Camas.

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