VANCOUVER, Wash. (KOIN) — At a heated Vancouver City Council meeting on Sept. 13, 2010, councilwoman Jeannie Harris had her signature moment — for better or worse.
“Gavel him down! Gavel him down!” she said to the Vancouver mayor, in response to an interruption by a meeting attendee. “Out! You’ve been dismissed! You’re out of here!”
Now, her opponents in the Vancouver election are using that against her in an effort to unseat the four-term incumbent.
In a radio ad, candidate Frank Decker states, “It’s time for Gavel Down Jeannie Harris to go. It’s time we got rid of the bullies in our city government and elected real leaders.”
“It seems like it’s been three years, and maybe that’s something that would have been forgotten, but it hasn’t been forgotten,” Decker told KOIN 6 News. “Everybody remembers that.”
He said her outburst is “just a symptom of a larger problem. When you watch city council meetings, and you see citizens come to share their ideas, and share their concerns, oftentimes they get laughed at, they get mocked.”
Decker is one of four challengers to Harris. But the IT specialist for Gresham’s Centennial School District is not even considered the best bet to beat her.
The Columbian newspaper endorsed two of her other challengers: well-known community leader Anne McEnerny-Ogle, who is also the head of the Clark County League of Women Voters, and Galina Burley, a human resources manager for Clackamas County.
Community organizer Adam Fox also is a candidate.
“I actually served with Jeannie when she was first appointed to City Council,” Burley said. “I think she’s served this city as best as she could, and I think it’s time for new blood.”
That sentiment and the memory of her “gavel down” moment may not be enough to unseat her, especially with a voter turnout expected around 20%. The deadline to vote is Aug. 6.
Two other council incumbents also are trying to keep their seats, Jack Burkman and Jeanne Stewart. Vancouver Mayor Tim Leavitt is not up for re-election until November.