If campaign contributions and yard signs are an indication of what to expect in the Aug. 17 primary, Ann Rivers would be considered a frontrunner in the 18th District state legislative race.
The 43-year-old Republican from La Center has raised $64,000 — more than twice as much as Democrat Dennis Kampe, the second-highest fundraiser — and her blue and green signs dot front yards and greet highway drivers from Castle Rock to Camas.
But Rivers believes it's her message — greater government transparency tops her list — and her ability to listen to voters that ultimately will win her a spot in the general election.
"People are feeling very disconnected from government," Rivers said. "Right now, they feel government isn't listening to them."
This is Rivers' first electoral campaign for public office, though she's been involved with political campaigns since the early 1990s. She helped Bill Williams get elected to the Alaska Legislature in 1992 and later became his chief of staff. Since returning to Southwest Washington, she's led multiple political campaigns as president of AMR Consulting, a public and governmental affairs firm.
In 2007, she was one of three candidates vying to replace 18th District Rep. Richard Curtis after he resigned. Commissioners from Clark and Cowlitz counties ultimately chose Jaime Herrera, who is vacating the seat to run for the U.S. House of Representatives.
Rivers says many of her ideas for improving state government have been generated from door-to-door campaigning. Many of those ideas are centered around transparency and the state budget.
Rivers said she would like to put the state's checkbook register online and allow residents to follow expenditures by using a search engine. She believes that would increase government accountability and give voters a clearer glimpse into who's spending how much money, and for what purpose.
She also wants to get state Auditor Brian Sonntag more involved with the state budget process, having him work closely with lawmakers to determine where cuts can be made while causing the least harm to residents.
"He's the guy who knows where the waste is, where the duplication is," Rivers said. "He told me he could save 10 percent out of the budget without the state feeling a cut."
Rivers said consolidating agency personnel departments and print shops would be a good place to start.
Like her challengers, Rivers argued that regulation is too tight on small businesses. She said one way to improve that sector is to put more restrictions on who can collect unemployment.
Rivers can be positive to the point of sounding Pollyannaish, and she concedes that, saying, "I have an unfailing faith in our fellow citizens."
Rivers has received a lengthy list of endorsements from conservative politicians and groups, and this week added the National Rifle Association to that tally.
Although she would enter the Legislature with little real clout, Rivers said She said she's the only candidate in the race with such a detailed plan for what to do if she is elected.
"I have a plan that I'm taking to Olympia with me instead of thinking that I'll just show up there."
- Age: 43
- City of residence: La Center
- Personal: Married, with two kids, ages 18 and 15
- Education: Bachelor of Science degree in political science with history minor, Central Michigan University, 1990; Secondary Education Certificate, natural science minor, Lewis and Clark State College, 2002.
- Profession: Political consultant
- Civic and political experience: Political affairs director, Building Industry Association of Clark County, 2006; West Clark County Relay for Life; La Center Scholarship Foundation; Greater Clark County Rotary Club; Evergreen Habitat for Humanity Board of Directors; Chief of staff, personal aide to Bill Williams, Alaska state Legislature in 1993.