North County has chief representation on the recently-convened Clark County Charter Review Commission as Battle Ground City Councilor Mike Dalesandro has been elected co-chair by the commission.
Dalesandro was selected as co-chair during the commission’s Jan. 27 meeting. He serves in the position alongside fellow co-chair Kim Harless, who serves as District 1 Position 2 commissioner.
Dalesandro announced his candidacy for the 15-member review commission last April, taking about 42 percent in a four-way race in the November election for his seat as the At-large Position 3 commissioner.
The commission is tasked with making recommendations to the Clark County Charter. Approved in 2014 by county voters, the charter serves as the county’s governing document. Any recommendations made will eventually come back to voters as part of a periodic review of the charter.
Dalesandro said his passion for public service led him to consider serving on the review commission and eventually accepting his nomination for co-chair, pointing to his past candidacy for Clark County Chair in 2015, following the implementation of the charter as some familiarity with county-level government.
Dalesandro acknowledged that the review commission would need to move on an aggressive timeline in order to have recommendations for potential changes by the Summer. He noted that the commission would not be “starting from scratch” as was the case with the Clark County Freeholders, the group who created the original charter, but would rather be adjusting the charter based on what the commission feels has or hasn’t.
Though the process would move quickly, Dalesandro stressed he wanted to see it move through with quality. Outside of the 15-member commission, he said the process should also rely on the expertise of community members as a whole to craft any recommendations made. He said the commission would have to be “efficient” to meet both ends.
Dalesandro’s election to the review commission, and subsequently the co-chair position by fellow commissioners, wasn’t the only new role he has taken on, as he was elected chair of the Clark County Democratic Party earlier this year. He said he has been around political campaigns since he first landed in Clark County about 15 years ago, working on others’ campaigns or his own.
He said the current state of political division led him to consider taking a party leadership role, adding that “Clark County is no different” when it came to the adversarial nature of party politics seen nationwide. He acknowledged he’s been a lifelong Democrat and largely agreed with the political party’s stances on issues, adding that his role as chair was to get more Democrats elected in the county.
“We can set the infrastructure in place. We can build (the) party and help good people get elected,” Dalesandro said.
Dalesandro also acknowledged the “harsh reality” of the politicization ongoing in many aspects of life, in and out of government, of which the charter review commission is no different.
“There’s going to be a political element to this … and I think the way we get around that, if you will, is we have integrity in our process,” Dalesandro said. “Hopefully the folks that are paying attention to what we’re doing, they won’t necessarily just accept that (politicization) as a fact, because they’ve seen what we’re trying to do.”
In order to have the charter review run smoothly, Dalesandro said it was important to take into account the perception from the public on whether or not the commission’s process has been good, and the potential for amendments resulting from that process having a chance to be passed by a vote of county residents.
While assuming new roles, Dalesandro will also be leaving an old one at the end of the year.
The current city councilor announced via a Jan. 25 social media post he would not be seeking re-election this year, stating it was “time for a new voice” to serve on council.
Although Dalesandro noted that outside considerations such as job and career can play a role in making the decision not to continue serving in that capacity, he said the chief reason for his decision was based on how long he had served.
“I felt like two terms was a good time to step away,” Dalesandro said, noting his 13 years of total involvement with the city, including five on its planning commission and a two-year stint as mayor.
Though he felt he has remained in touch with the community, since he first became involved with city government, “the community has changed,” he acknowledged.
“We’ve basically doubled in size, and there’s different people and perspectives here,” he remarked. He said the current council and city staff’s success had given him an opportunity to personally step back and see who would step up to fill his position.
“It’s a good time. I feel proud of the work and accomplishments that happened on council,” Dalesandro said.