With a unanimous vote by the Camas City Council, Scott Higgins is now officially the mayor of Camas.
The former Ward 3 councilman and mayor pro-tem was appointed to the position following a structured interview and selection process last night at City Hall. The other candidate was Kim Seaton Thies.
Both applicants were asked a set of five questions that focused on his or her plans for the city if elected, challenges ahead, qualifications and background.
When asked what kind of leadership employees could expect if he was appointed as mayor, Higgins said no one should anticipate a big shake-up in how the city is run.
“I believe the ship is on the right course. It is well run and well administered,” he answered. “I want to add my vision to what is already established.”
Higgins has been on the council for 10 years. Earlier this month, he filed with the Clark County Elections Department to be a candidate for the mayoral term that runs from Jan. 1, 2012 to Dec. 31, 2015. On the General Election ballot, Higgins is slated to run against Ken Kakuk.
Thies, who has lived in Camas for 17 months, was longtime leader with the Boy Scouts and Campfire Boys and Girls, and former resident of Everett, Wash., where she served on the Silver Lake Community Council for 10 years.
She described herself as someone who looks for innovative solutions.
“I have a tendency to be laid back,” she said. “But I like to investigate the issues to find solutions that would best serve the community.”
Thies, who said she has bookkeeping experience, admitted that she has not managed multi-million dollar budgets. She added, however, that the approach should be the same for a family or a municipality — live within the budget and work to raise additional funding when needed.
“The same principles guide a family as [those that] guide a city,” she said.
Higgins, 39, is fulfilling the remaining five months of the term of former Mayor Paul Dennis, who resigned as of May 31 to accept a position as economic development director for the newly created Camas-Washougal Economic Development Association. As mayor pro-tem, Higgins has been performing the duties of mayor since Dennis’ departure.
Higgins has said as mayor he would focus on issues including strengthening partnerships with the school district and neighboring jurisdictions, improving the city’s hardware and software technology, and taking a smart approach to development.
Last night he said one of the biggest challenges the city faces is working on the emergency services partnerships that exist with the City of Washougal and East County Fire & Rescue. Through inter-local agreements, the Camas Fire Department provides paramedic services to all three jurisdictions, and recently entered into a trial consolidation effort with the Washougal Fire Department.
“It is an excellent service that we’ve had for a long time,” Higgins said. “Largely because of economic issues, sometimes because of personalities, it needs some attention. We need to spend some time working on those relationships.”
He is married to Allison Higgins, a doctor with Southwest Washington Medical Center, They have two daughters, Rachel and Chloe, who attend Camas schools.
Higgins has lived in the local community for more than 30 years. He graduated from Camas High School and later earned an associate’s degree from Florida College in Temple Terrace. He has worked in sales and as a stay-at-home dad. For the past year he has been a preacher at Hockinson Church of Christ, and previously was a preacher at a Portland church for three years.
Higgins was elected to the City Council in November 2001 when he unseated incumbent Peter Nicholls.
In November 2007, Higgins was one of three candidates selected by the 18th Legislative District precinct officers to interview with commissioners from Clark and Cowlitz counties to be appointed to serve as the 18th District Representative following the resignation of Rep. Richard Curtis. That position eventually went to Jaime Herrera (now Jaime Herrera Beutler), who served in the position until 2010 when she was elected to serve as the Third District U.S. Representative.
Higgins’ Ward 3 seat is now vacant. The City Council voted last night to open the 21-day application period beginning today. Applications and ward maps are available online at www.ci.camas.wa.us or at City Hall, 616 N.E. Fourth Ave.