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Nonstop mayor: McEnerny-Ogle powers through first year

Nonstop mayor: McEnerny-Ogle powers through first year

Most days, Vancouver Mayor Anne McEnerny-Ogle begins her day at 7 a.m., and there’s barely sufficient room on her calendar to slot in the duties earlier than her. A gathering right here, a ribbon-cutting there, a cultural pageant or two squeezed between answering emails and occasional conferences. She will get residence many nights at eight p.m. When the town council meets, it may be even later.

Then there’s the weekly custom together with her husband, Terry Ogle, baking eight dozen cupcakes for Vancouver’s unhoused inhabitants. She nonetheless volunteers 4 hours a month with Neighbors On Watch to patrol the group. All whereas juggling most of the similar points as Portland to the south: homelessness, reasonably priced housing, controversial infrastructure tasks.

Within the metropolis of Vancouver, being mayor is a part-time job.

However for McEnerny-Ogle, it’s her life.

‘I would have a problem doing less’

McEnerny-Ogle made historical past a year in the past when she was elected Vancouver’s first feminine mayor.

Within the aftermath, she’s thrown herself into the job throughout probably the most turbulent occasions within the metropolis’s historical past. As Vancouver faces reasonably priced housing shortages, speedy improvement and hard conversations about changing the Interstate 5 Bridge, McEnerny-Ogle has prioritized relationships, displaying a public face and, sometimes, diplomacy by baked items.

Regardless of the lengthy hours, she stated it’s simply a part of the job.

“I would have a problem doing less,” McEnerny-Ogle stated as she sat in her front room on a current weekday. The notion drew a understanding look and a smile from her husband, who sat beside her.

“I know, I know, I know,” McEnerny-Ogle laughed.

Legally, she stated, the mayor solely wants to point out as much as metropolis council conferences, serve on a board or two and switch all the things over to metropolis employees.

“I have to remind myself I have no power,” McEnerny-Ogle stated. “I am the same as my colleagues. Just because I’m the mayor doesn’t mean I get special privileges.”

That doesn’t imply she takes it straightforward. Vancouver has rising pains. The housing emptiness fee is decrease than throughout the river, and rents are solely simply now stabilizing. After which there’s the bridge. There’s sufficient occurring that former Mayor Tim Leavitt argued the place of mayor had outgrown the town. In 2016, he fought — and misplaced — for a pay improve comparable with the duties as mayor of the second-largest metropolis within the Portland metro space.

“Very simply, the effort necessary to meet the responsibilities and the accountability that our public demands of the city council, and more specifically the position of mayor, far, far outweighs the scant compensation that is offered,” Leavitt stated in the course of the wage assessment course of.

Till the town constitution modifications and redefines the mayor’s workplace, McEnerny-Ogle disagrees concerning the want for a pay bump. However she conceded if the town does ever transfer ahead with long-range plans to annex unincorporated areas adjoining to the town — which might make Vancouver the second-largest metropolis in Washington — there could also be grounds for reconsideration. Maybe then the workplace of mayor can be full time on paper, and higher mirror the calls for of the place.

Opening doorways

Armed with a brand new title, McEnerny-Ogle was capable of cross through doorways that have been beforehand closed.

The doorways to the Metropolitan Mayors Consortium assembly, for instance. The group consisting of 25 space mayors meets recurrently to speak about points dealing with the area. Vancouver wasn’t represented. Till now.

“They changed it. For me,” McEnerny-Ogle stated.

She’s not a voting member, “but I can bring what we’re working on.”

“I’ve been in their homes. I’ve been in the City Halls now. Because it’s all about relationships. They’re making decisions that impact us,” she stated.

Working aspect by aspect with the metro mayors is emblematic of the objective McEnerny-Ogle set for herself: Construct relationships.

It’s paying off. McEnerny-Ogle lists the help by Southwest Washington mayors for an Interstate 5 Bridge alternative venture amongst her prime accomplishments. She hopes to construct on the cooperative nature of that effort shifting ahead in different areas.

“I would love that to be our goal in the future,” she stated.

Ideally, the regional management would work collectively on legislative priorities as properly and work out what helps everybody, McEnerny-Ogle added.

“Collaborative, cooperative, cooperate, partnerships — I don’t care what you call it, nothing gets done if you’re not working together,” she stated.

If these relationships didn’t exist earlier than taking workplace, you should hit the bottom operating, she stated.

“You can’t handle the Thanksgiving dinner by yourself. Everyone brings a dish or a side dish, or turkey or dressing or dessert or whatever, then you make it happen,” McEnerny-Ogle stated. “And I think that’s one of the things that we realized early on is I don’t care if it’s the waterfront, if it’s affordable housing, if it’s a fire station, all of the different things that come down are all about our mission together.”

She hosts espresso with the mayor occasions at totally different places, with totally different neighborhoods, making an attempt to succeed in everybody and anybody that must be heard.

“That’s how we solve problems,” she stated: by listening.

She’s armed with a cheat sheet speaking about all of the various things happening within the metropolis handy out and maintain whoever’s knowledgeable.

Her weekly cheat sheet is double-sided.

Wanting south

It’s not simply the mayors of Battle Floor, Camas, La Middle, Ridgefield and Washougal that McEnerny-Ogle must companion with. Portland’s Mayor Ted Wheeler is an important connection to constructing on Vancouver’s profitable progress.

Wheeler hasn’t had a simple go of issues since taking workplace. He’s been criticized for his obvious incapability to make progress on the challenges dealing with Portland, most of the similar ones dealing with Vancouver. He’s additionally suffered public backlash for his dealing with of right-wing extremists and ongoing protests, in addition to a proposal to use time and place restrictions to any protest he, in his position as police commissioner, deemed violent.

McEnerny-Ogle stated she doesn’t envy Wheeler’s job, however she acknowledges they want one another to maneuver the area ahead.

When McEnerny-Ogle was elected, she stated she’d deliver Wheeler a pie if wanted to get that relationship going. It didn’t find yourself taking a pie, however she does supply Wheeler one thing do-it-yourself each time they speak.

“We do jams and jellies because he does pancakes on Saturday morning with his family,” she stated.

The final year has been profitable, she stated, when it comes to constructing the inspiration for a working relationship with Portland.

“We have the same concerns,” she stated. However greater than anything, the 2 mayors use their conferences to speak about what one another is engaged on. The I-5 Bridge tops the record, as does caring for their very own unsheltered populations.

Wheeler and McEnerny-Ogle are set for an additional assembly this month to catch up.

“I’m sure we’ll talk about some things that are painful for both of us,” she stated.

A couple of regrets

McEnerny-Ogle has some regrets from her first year within the mayor’s workplace. The most important? Reasonably priced housing.

“We’ve been working on that for five years,” she stated. “It feels like we’re eating an elephant here.”

It’s robust to determine the basis of the issue and work with group companions to place options in place — or, to proceed the elephant metaphor, to “nibble away at this huge meal,” McEnerny-Ogle stated.

“It doesn’t look like we’re solving it,” she conceded. “It’s just that this is a whole textbook of math problems, and we’re doing one page at a time.”

Even when the town was making vital progress on tackling homelessness, one other challenge will all the time pop up. Companies need to transfer to Vancouver however can’t discover the fitting parcel of land, for instance, or need metropolis incentives that simply don’t exist. On multiple event, companies have complained a few lack of parking and threatened to go away downtown.

“There will never be enough parking downtown,” McEnerny-Ogle stated.

And contemplating the town’s proposed coverage to concentrate on offering customer parking in lieu of spots for employers, that difficulty might by no means be solved for companies exploring Vancouver as the subsequent cease.

All the things takes sluggish, cautious planning. Even when residents and companies assume the town is dragging its ft, McEnerny-Ogle stated there’s a purpose.

“The moment we try to do something fast, something is forgotten and we didn’t cover all of our bases,” she stated. “We don’t want to mess up with quick fixes. People’s lives depend on our decision — quite literally.”

Small moments inform

Ask anybody to explain McEnerny-Ogle and the identical themes emerge. She’s concerned. She’s a champion for anybody and everybody. She’s open-minded and really cares concerning the group. She tries to do all of it.

Higher Vancouver Chamber of Commerce Chairman Eric Sawyer referenced McEnerny-Ogle’s time spent volunteering for an annual Junior Professional-Am he organizes. The occasion companions younger feminine golfers with a touring Women Skilled Golf Affiliation professional and options 9 captains from the group. Sawyer requested McEnerny-Ogle to take part final year as a captain.

“Hearing her in action, watching her with the young kids, it was obvious that her impact in the community far exceeds the typical paper pushing that plagues most politicians’ busy schedules,” he stated.

She’s the type of mayor who spends that additional minute chatting with the janitor on her approach out the door. Leaving a current speak at Fort Vancouver Excessive Faculty, she backtracked to select up a dime she noticed on the bottom and positioned it within the hand of a passing scholar with out skipping a beat.

She’s a mayor who shines within the little moments.

In relation to baking cupcakes, McEnerny-Ogle and her husband Terry have it right down to a science, making an attempt to perform a little once they can’t do so much, she stated.

They usually all the time make the cupcakes collectively.

“We have to,” she stated.

In any other case, her husband stated, “she’d do it all herself.”

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