La Center’s final farmers market of the season invited city council candidates to speak to the community and answer questions.
Council candidates Myrna Leija and Linda Tracy attended the event. Tracy is running for position five against incumbent Elizabeth Cerveny. Leija is the incumbent for position four after being appointed June 14.
Leija’s application for appointment in June included some letters of recommendation from previous co-workers in criminal justice, which she referenced as her background during the event. Leija is a relatively new resident of La Center; she moved here in 2019 but has lived in Clark County for 35 years, she said.
Community members and even past council members asked Leija questions about tax breaks casinos receive, getting the city’s police department back, road deterioration and more.
Leija said she is a retired civil servant and wants to continue to be helpful.
“It was my goal as a corrections deputy to serve the community … I’m retired from that, and I want to continue my civic duties and I feel really strongly about that,” she said. “When I saw the police were no longer here, that was big for me because we need to have police. This city is growing like crazy, and we have to have police.”
Leija added that the Cowlitz Tribal Police, who the City of La Center chose to provide police services, is committed to helping the city regain its own police department, which could take a few years.
“My next vision is the quality of life here,” Leija said. “We have nice parks, but I want to have walkways and trails. … Just some really nice things that will draw people to want to come and visit La Center and be part of this community, not necessarily move here, but just be part of this, enjoying the waterways and enjoying the parks and the pathways.”
Tracy said she wants to help La Center continue to rebuild its amenities if elected. This isn’t the first time Tracy has run against Cerveny. In 2019, Tracy lost to Cerveny for position five. Tracy has previously served on La Center council and served two terms, first in 2004.
“The new mayor … has some really wonderful ideas about bringing back things in La Center that used to be here but are not here anymore, and I just felt that I wanted to be a part of that,” Tracy told The Reflector.
Tracy also supports bringing a police department, but her priorities for the city involve business.
“The main focus I think for me would be to bring more businesses into the city. We don’t have a lot of area for businesses, but maybe we can do something with the wetlands to rearrange them so we can have more property,” Tracy said. “We need tax base, but we need businesses and it’s wonderful to have all these people moving in. No. 1, it’s tough on the roads. No. 2, it’s going to be tough on the schools, but we just need some businesses to help take the tax base for the city.”