C-Tran Board composition will change in January

Camas and Washougal will both have their own seats

Discussions regarding the composition of the C-Tran Board that began more than a year ago finally came to a conclusion on Nov. 18. As a result, both Camas and Washougal will now have their own director seats — instead of sharing one.

The C-Tran Board Composition Review Committee approved 7-3 the option that provides three elected official representatives for Vancouver, two for the Clark County, one each for Battle Ground, Camas and Washougal, and one shared between La Center, Ridgefield and Yacolt.

The decision was affirmed by Clark County Commissioner Ed Barnes, Battle Ground Mayor Shane Bowman, Washougal Mayor Sean Guard, Camas Mayor Scott Higgins, La Center Mayor Jim Irish, Vancouver Mayor Tim Leavitt and Ridgefield Mayor Ron Onslow.

It was voted down by Clark County Commissioners David Madore and Tom Mielke, and Yacolt Mayor Jeff Carothers.

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 Composition Review Committee began meeting in June 2013. In December 2013, a decision about whether to change the makeup of the C-Tran Board was delayed until a separate decision could be made on legalities surrounding bloc veto power held by Clark County and Vancouver. It gives the two jurisdictions the power to reverse any decision made by the rest of the C-Tran Board.

In September 2014, Clark County Superior Court ruled that if the C-Tran Board composition changes from anything less than three positions each for Vancouver and Clark County, the bloc veto is invalid.

When the committee reconvened on Nov. 18, Mielke and Madore both said if the county surrenders one of its seats to one of the small cities, so should Vancouver.

“I don’t think the county has any issue giving up a seat to another community in our county,” Mielke said. “I’m a little dismayed that the city wouldn’t also give up a seat to share, giving other communities in our county word on this board. We don’t have a problem giving one up, if the city gives one up also.”

Leavitt said public bus service was started in Vancouver, then expanded to other cities in the county. The C-Tran Board worked well together over the years, until recently.

“It’s only in the last two years for various and sundry reasons there’s become this divisiveness, and you here some of the language being used — ‘superpower,’ and ‘concentrated power in the urban area,'” Leavitt said. “But by any measure, we all know it, the city of Vancouver has played very well with our partners over the years. The city of Vancouver represents 60 percent of the revenue of C-Tran and 80 percent of the ridership.”

Higgins said Camas is looking for fair representation on the C-Tran Board.

“This proposal, though not perfect for everyone, does give individual areas more of a voice than they have ever had before,” he said. “The city of Camas looks forward to looking into issues that affect C-Tran as a whole, but particularly as they pertain to Camas and addressing those. That is why we are supportive of this.”

The reconfigured board will begin meeting in January 2015, according to C-Tran legal counsel Tom Wolfendale.

The Composition Review Committee meets every four years. It will reconvene in June 2018.