Sarah Fox took her position Monday as a Vancouver city councilor during the body’s first meeting of 2020, with an agenda that also saw the unanimous election of Linda Glover as the mayor pro tem.
Fox, who won her election for the Position 6 seat in November, said there were a lot of “mixed emotions” ahead of her first evening behind the dais.
“I’m feeling pretty excited about the opportunity,” Fox said before the meeting. “I’m also very aware I’ll be the first female veteran to serve on the city council, and likely one of the first single moms.”
During her first meeting Monday night, Fox drew from that resume to question the selection process for applicants to serve on a new Transportation and Mobility Commission, an 11-member volunteer body that would oversee all issues related to roads and transit.
Citywide, Fox said, Vancouver’s appointed commissions are made up of about 70 percent men and 30 percent women. In one of her first public statements as a councilor, she urged her colleagues “to be more direct about ensuring this committee has a better representation of women and men.”
“Women do look at transportation differently, and I think we would be missing something if we end up with 30 percent representation,” Fox said. Women, she continued, were less likely than men to be solo commuters on their way to work, and more likely to be responsible for getting a kid to school or a loved one to an appointment. Those types of commuters need multiple transit options, Fox said.
Other councilors agreed in the spirit of more representation, though worried about the legality of appointing applicants to the commission based on gender.
“We are prohibited from a protected class being a criteria for appointment for any allocation of public resources,” City Manager Eric Holmes said. “We are prohibited from doing an advertisement that says you have to be a particular gender, or you have to be a particular race.”
In replacing Bill Turlay, the former Position 6 councilor who did not seek reelection, Fox’s first day on the council marked the first time Vancouver was represented by a female-majority council chosen by voters (a previous stint with a women-majority council nearly 20 years ago was brief, and occurred through appointment instead of election).
Fox’s road to the city council was a long one. Her election culminated the fourth time in two years she’d sought a spot on Vancouver’s top governing body.
The Camas city planner had previously applied for an appointment in January 2018, when Scott Campbell was elected after he had died and created a vacancy. Fox was selected as a finalist during that process, but the seat ultimately went to Laurie Lebowsky. Fox then ran against Lebowsky later in 2018 and lost. In January 2019, when then-city councilor Alishia Topper was elected Clark County treasurer and had to give up her council seat, Fox sought to fill the vacancy by appointment but was unsuccessful.
Finally, in November 2019, Fox won the general election with 67.1 percent of the vote, soundly defeating her challenger, Jeanne Stewart.
Upon winning her seat, Fox called the victory “the culmination of a lot of hard work.”
Second in command
Monday evening also saw the election of Councilor Linda Glover as the new mayor pro tem, replacing former mayor pro tem Bart Hansen.
Glover, the Position 3 councilor, was first elected in 2017 and is serving her first four-year term. She was nominated as 2020’s mayor pro tem — the No. 2 spot on the city council, delegated to lead the group in Mayor Anne McEnerny-Ogle’s absence — by Lebowsky, and unanimously elected by the rest of the council to replace Hansen.
A former teacher and elementary school principal, Glover now works as executive director of the nonprofit Gifts for Our Community. She’s also a familiar presence on Main Street, where she runs upscale second-hand furniture store Divine Consign.