Dick Rylander appointed to Clark County Council Updated 2 days ago

By Shari Phiel, Columbian staff writer Published: April 29, 2022, 10:33am Updated: April 29, 2022, 4:12pm

Gov. Jay Inslee on Friday appointed Battle Ground resident Richard “Dick” Rylander Jr. to the Clark County Council’s vacant District 5 seat. Inslee’s decision came two days earlier than anticipated. The governor’s office previously said Inslee would wait until the council’s 60-day clock to fill the seat expired on May 1 before making an appointment. “Welcome aboard to him,” Councilor Gary Medvigy said Friday. “We look forward to the swearing-in ceremony and having a full council once again.” Rylander will be sworn in by County Clerk Scott Weber at 9:45 a.m. on Tuesday, prior to the council’s 10 a.m. meeting. Medvigy also said he was gratified to see the governor respond so quickly because “the fifth district has been asking who’s representing them. Now the fifth district has representation once again.”

In an interview Friday, Rylander said he’s been doing his homework and attending council meetings virtually for the past three months in preparation for serving on the council. “I’m a big believer in asking the people what they think and listening to them. One of my objectives is to do exactly that,” Rylander said. He said he wants to find ways to connect with his constituents, whether it’s one-on-one meetings or town halls. He encouraged residents to call, text or email anytime. “My door, virtually or physically, will be open,” he said. Rylander said he has identified at least one issue he wants to focus on — the budget. “I follow the money. I’m really concerned that on the national level, with the degree of inflation we’re seeing in the last couple of years, that the amount of money we have in the county budget is going to be severely stressed. We don’t have ready, easy ways to generate a lot of extra revenue,” Rylander said.

While he said the county has done a good job managing the budget for the past five years, rising costs will make that difficult to sustain. He said he wants to see cities and counties given more control over taxes and revenue and less control at the state level. Like others on the county council, Rylander hails from California but has lived in the Vancouver and Battle Ground areas for a combined 31 years. Three of his four adult children live in Clark County and seven of his 12 grandchildren also live in the county. “This is home. … Our plan is this is it,” Rylander said. Starting in 2014, Rylander has been president of BioPharmaceutical Strategies LLC. In 2016, he volunteered at Oregon Health and Science University where he assists researchers, physicians and faculty in assessing the commercial potential for technologies. Rylander holds a bachelor’s degree in marketing and finance from California State University Sacramento and a Master of Business Administration from City University of Seattle. “I wish to express my thanks to Gov. Inslee for reviewing both quickly and thoroughly the list of three nominees provided by council,” Council Chair Karen Bowerman said in a statement Friday. “Dick brings to the council strong involvement that is already developed with District 5 and keen interest in resident engagement. His professional background shows data and technical experience which is reflected in extensive volunteer service in Clark County.” Rylander, a longtime political activist, was among three candidates nominated by Bowerman, along with retired U.S. Customs special agent Thomas Schenk and former county policy analyst Peter Silliman.

The council interviewed the three candidates on March 29 but deadlocked in a 2-2 vote after Councilor Gary Medvigy nominated Rylander for the position. The council instead forwarded the list of candidates to Inslee to fill former councilor Eileen Quiring O’Brien’s unexpired term. Quiring O’Brien announced her plans to retire in January; her last day on the council was March 1. “The public sets high professional and ethical standards for those in public office, and if we want to maintain its trust and support, we must always meet or exceed those standards,” Inslee wrote in his appointment letter. “We must serve to the highest of ethical principles, place the public’s interest above any personal or private interests, and always ensure state resources are efficiently used for public purposes only.” Inslee thanked Rylander for his willingness to serve the people of Washington. The current term for District 5 ends Dec. 31, and the seat will be open for election later this year. Rylander confirmed he plans to run for the position in November. A charter amendment passed by voters in November set the council salaries at $53,000 per year.

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