Camas continues efforts to secure C-Tran Board seat

Composition Review Committee will meet again on Aug. 13

A proposal mentioned at the recent C-Tran Board Composition Review Committee meeting has Camas Mayor Scott Higgins feeling optimistic that a change could be on the horizon.

At the end of last Tuesday’s meeting Clark County Commissioner Steve Stuart suggested a new configuration of the C-Tran Board that would reduce Clark County’s representation, and give Camas, Battle Ground and Washougal their own seats.

Stuart proposed that a possible makeup could maintain three seats for Vancouver, and then have two for Clark County, one each for Camas, Battle Ground and Washougal, and one combined seat for the three smallest jurisdictions — Ridgefield, La Center and Yacolt.

This is slightly different than the new configuration proposed at the first meeting of the Board Composition Committee on June 11. At that time, County Commissioner David Madore proposed changing the C-Tran Board to include two representatives each from the Clark County Commission and the Vancouver City Council, and one representative each from Camas, Washougal, Ridgefield and Battle Ground and one for La Center/Yacolt.

This proposal was not looked on favorably by Vancouver City Councilman Bart Hansen.

Currently, the C-Tran Board’s bylaws stipulate that it has nine voting members — three each from the Clark County Commission and the Vancouver City Council, and one each from paired cities and towns: La Center/Ridgefield, Washougal/Camas and Battle Ground/Yacolt. The board provides policy and legislative direction for C-Tran and its administration.

The Board Composition Review Committee meets every four years.

“I still believe that Camas is positioned very well to, at the end of the composition review process, have its own seat,” Higgins said at yesterday’s Camas City Council workshop. “There seems to be consensus that Camas has been under-represented and that they need to make it right.”

During the July 9 committee meeting, Higgins said efforts to make its current pairing with Washougal work have not been entirely successful.

“Particularly in the last few years, our council has felt a bit underrepresented,” he said. “Most of it has to do with sharing seats with other cities that aren’t on the same page on every issue under the sun.Often, my council found itself in a position where it is reading how it voted in the newspaper the next day, which as you can imagine is a little troubling to those who are entrusted to look out for their community.”

Higgins said the city has already tried implementing additional opportunities for check-ins and discussion between its current representative, Washougal City Councilwoman Connie Jo Freeman, and the Camas City Council.

“I don’t know that communication is the answer,” he said. “That is why we feel if we had a seat at the table we would at least be able to communicate our view for our constituents who are paying into the system.”

Higgins said he would also be interested in learning more about how a weighted voting system, which could be based on factors such population or revenue, would work.

“Maybe, in that information, we might find a way to get representation for more communities with weighted voting,” he said.

Some of the July 9 meeting’s discussion focused on the impacts of the bloc veto power that is held by Vancouver and Clark County.

“Because of the double veto, every one of these small cities sitting at this table do not have a voice,” said Battle Ground Mayor Lisa Walters.

Stuart mentioned that the bloc veto has only been used twice.

“If we don’t use it, then why have it?” Walters questioned.

The next C-Tran Board Composition Committee meeting will be held Tuesday, Aug. 13, at 4 p.m., at the Vancouver Community Library. The committee opted to schedule a fourth meeting for Sept. 10 as well.

“We shouldn’t feel pressured to make a decision at the next meeting, but we certainly want to make some progress,” said Stuart, who serves as chairman of the committee.

A majority vote of the Composition Review Committee, which is made up of all three Clark County Commissioners and one elected representative from each city/town within C-Tran boundaries, would be needed to make any changes to its structure. A subsequent vote of the C-Tran Board would not be required.