What scares Larry Smith?

Vancouver City Council’s workshop Monday on the makeup of the C-Tran Board of Directors turned into a confessional for Councilor Larry Smith, who shared his thoughts on the Clark County commissioners.

Smith, who serves on the C-Tran Board of Directors with Mayor Tim Leavitt and Councilor Bart Hansen, first brought up the issue of fairness. Currently, the city and county each have three seats on the Board of Directors. The remaining three seats are shared by Camas/Washougal, Battle Ground/Yacolt and Washougal/La Center. The largest of the small cities want their own seat, and Commissioner David Madore suggested that the county and the city each give up a seat.

Sixty percent of sales tax collected by C-Tran comes from within Vancouver city limits; 81 percent of riders board within city limits.

Smith, a retired Army colonel who has been on the city council since 2004, said the city shouldn’t give up a seat on the board. The city needs to keep its seats so the council can make sure C-Tran policy continues to best serve city residents who are the majority of C-Tran riders. Vancouver has 165,000 residents and needs to provide quality urban services, he said. And people who live in rural areas need to understand that accessing urban services, such as public transportation, comes at a greater cost in rural areas.

He said some of the members of the C-Tran board from smaller jurisdictions “have a different outlook on urban services.”

Other councilors took their turns speaking, and when it came back to Smith he focused on the county commissioners. The makeup of the C-Tran Board of Directors will be decided by the Composition Review Committee. That 10-member committee includes all three county commissioners, but Vancouver only has one representative, as does the cities of Camas, Washougal, Battle Ground, Ridgefield, La Center and the town of Yacolt.

In today’s story, I quoted Smith as calling the commissioners’ performance “dismal,” but here’s his complete statement:

“I’ll be honest: I do have a confession,” Smith said. “I’m uncomfortable with the county commissioners. I’m sorry. Their six months of operation scare me. And I’m going to do everything I can to protect the citizens of Vancouver. The ones that voted for me, the ones who put me in the office and the ones that have an expectation that I will do the job to protect them. And so far what I’ve seen from the county commissioners scares me. And I’m sorry if that offends someone, you may be on a different side, and some of you are, but I’m going to be honest and straightforward. The performance so far has been dismal and disappointing. And that’s the way it is.”

Stephanie Rice

Stephanie Rice

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

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