Main on Parade

Ridgefield City Councilor John Main, center, mugs for the camera during one of Ridgefield’s Fourth of July parades with councilors Sandra Day and Darren Wertz in view. Main is resigning in October in order to be closer to family.

Ridgefield City Councilor John Main is not long for Washington as he recently announced his decision to resign Oct. 1 in order to move closer to family in Boise, Idaho.

The City announced Main’s decision to resign in a release Aug. 1. In an interview with The Reflector Main said the decision to move came following the birth of his second granddaughter, Jenna, last month.

Main said that on the way back from the hospital he ruminated with his family on how little he had seen first grandchild, Kimber. With a second granddaughter now in the picture the need to be closer to the next generation of his family proved great — enough to pull him from a career in Ridgefield public service that began on the city’s planning commission in 2010.

“It was probably one of the toughest decisions I have made in my life,” Main said. 

When he spoke to The Reflector the day after the announcement he said although the time leading up to making the decision was agonizing, after finally committing he was filled with a sense of peace.

Though Main doesn’t step down until October, much of the ongoing council work he has been a part of won’t be complete until after he leaves. Ongoing work to build an arts district in the city has been one of his proudest works, noting his wife, Tami, is an accomplished artist with a floral business that has been a hit in Ridgefield since its inception a year ago.

“If you have an arts scene, it’s just another (part of) our concept of live, work, play,” Main said. “We want to be a destination city, not a bedroom community.”

Main alo mentioned the Smythe Road Trail project, a 0.3-mile connection that would link miles of trails on each side. He explained currently walkers would have to go alongside of Pioneer Street, making a dangerous stretch between existing trails.

“That’s still going to be next year,” Main said, adding the city needs to acquire the right-of-way for the trail.

Main originally settled in Ridgefield in 2007, previously living in Sherwood, Oregon. He recounted how while scouting out locations to move he drove through the city and fell in love with the place.

“We saw this rental, and we said ‘that’s it,’” Main remarked, adding he and his wife put money down on the place that afternoon and were Ridgefield residents in a month.

Since moving to Ridgefield Main retired after 30 years of work as a computer programmer with Xerox Corporation in 2012, the same year due to state law Ridgefield’s council needed to expand from five to seven members. Main recounted how after interviewing he was sworn in “immediately” along with fellow councilor Sandra Day, someone Main spoke highly of.

Looking back on his time on the council, Main talked about the “mundane stuff” — rewriting ordinances and updating city code to put Ridgefield in a direction of appropriate growth. He singled out some bigger accomplishments, including work on bringing an arts district to the city.

Main also talked about Ridgefield’s moratorium on marijuana businesses in the city. He said his vote for the moratorium wasn’t based on moral grounds, but rather he felt it didn’t fit the character of the city — one of his worries was that a grandfathered sign near Interstate 5 would end up a giant advertisement for a pot shop that would fill in the vacant gas station nearby.

At that point Ridgefield was vying for the north county location of Clark College — now a reality as Clark College at Boschma Farms is currently in the planning stages for a campus east of the interstate. Main wanted to make sure the character of Ridgefield felt right for the campus.

A third accomplishment was the establishment of the City Partners Ordinance, through which nonprofits in Ridgefield can receive funds and permit waivers from the city for their efforts. Main gave an example of the Ridgefield Arts Association which used $750 of the $1,200 available to each organization in order to apply for official 501(c)3 nonprofit status.

“It’s really benefited. Almost every nonprofit in our city at one time or another has applied for it,” Main said. “It’s the volunteers, it’s the nonprofits — our city doesn’t work without (them).”

As to if he plans on continuing public service in Boise, Main said that decision was unkown.

“I wouldn’t say the door is closed, but at the same time I don’t plan to,” Main said, explaining it was important to get a feel for the area before jumping back in.

Main spoke highly of his colleagues and those who keep Ridgefield running.

“We have an amazing council and we have an amazing staff,” Main remarked. 

He talked specifically about City Manager Steve Stuart, to whom the city extended a deadline for the then-open position following Stuart’s resignation from the then-Clark County Commission in 2014.

“He’s an amazing person,” Main said about Stuart. “The people he’s hired to staff have been the same, just exceptional quality.”

Through the council and staff Main felt Ridgefield would be well on its way to greatness after he leaves.

“It’s growing pains. I know it’s hard to navigate all the (construction) flaggers and the torn up roads, but I know we will have a beautiful place that will still retain the historic feel and yet have to represent the fact that we are growing,” Main said.

Being able to see the collaboration in the city as it grows will be a memory Main will take with him as he heads east.

“I will miss all that. It’s those personal relationships. It’s meeting new people and just all the things this community has done to come together and be successful,” Main said.

With Main departing the Ridgefield City Council will begin a process to appoint a qualified replacement, the city’s announcement stated. Though his term does not end until December 2021, Washington law will require the appointee to run for election in 2019.

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