Education: Bachelor’s degree in management from the University of Houston
Community Involvement: Delivery driver for Loaves & Fishes/Meals on Wheels; troop co-leader for Girls Scouts of America; vice president of the Washougal Schools Foundation and member of the Student Stride for Education coordination team; and a mission team leader at St. Anne’s Episcopal Church
Education: Washougal High School graduate; studied two years at Clark College
Community Involvement: Assistant volleyball and basketball coach at Jemtegaard Middle School; volunteer with the Harold W. Busch Walkers, which raises money for Alzheimer’s disease education and research; facilitator for teens in the Stepping Stones program offered through the PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center Hope/Bereavement Center
The choices for the Washougal City Council Position No. 5 seat feature an incumbent who is also serving as mayor pro tem and a woman who has lived most of her life in Washougal.
Incumbent Jennifer McDaniel, 45, has lived in Washougal for six years, while challenger Niki Anderson, 36, grew up in Washougal.
“In the last 12 to 13 years, Washougal has grown,” McDaniel said during a recent interview. “We have more than doubled in size, with new people. Though I appreciate that she is a multi-generational resident, I don’t think that necessarily qualifies someone to represent the citizens of Washougal on the City Council –– as a sole qualifier.
“I think everyone deserves representation on the City Council –– even newcomers,” she added. “I don’t really consider myself to be a newcomer, but I guess in relation to Ms. Anderson, then I am a newcomer. It does not mean I love Washougal any less. My [two] kids are in school there. I am very vested in my community.”
McDaniel, the office administrator at St. Anne’s Episcopal Church, in Washougal, and her husband Lance purchased an older home on Main Street, near the downtown core.
Anderson, a 1993 Washougal High School graduate, lived in Arizona for 1 1/2 years when her husband Kelly, a member of the Marine Corps, was stationed there.
“We chose to come back here, because we love our community,” she said.
Anderson, a custody officer for the Clark County Sheriff’s Office and mother of two, said public safety is an important issue for her –– “to see that citizens are safe on the street.”
“For emergency response, we have great staff for that,” she added.
Anderson believes the trial consolidation involving the Washougal and Camas fire departments is a good thing.
“It’s necessary to look at all the options and see what we want to do,” she said. “They are well trained. If that’s what we do to get the best services, then I am all for it.”
Anderson mentioned she has an overwhelming amount of information to look at, as a candidate.
“I’m not a politician, and I don’t think I ever will be a political type of person,” she said. “I am a small town girl who wants to see the city go where it needs to go or stay on a track of not looking beyond the city.
“Our goal is to focus on what is happening in our city and what is affecting our city,” Anderson added. “I’m hoping I can keep us focused on that.”
McDaniel was among the council members who approved a $150,000 budget amendment in May to help Camas offset a $310,000 shortfall. It involved transferring $95,000 to an EMS fund to offset the shortfall and spending $55,000 for a new hire at the Washougal Fire Department.
“The consolidation is on a trial basis,” McDaniel said. “It’s a huge experiment. I hope we will see some cost savings from that.”
Her top issues include the economy, and she believes city official’s priorities should include balancing the budget and not raising taxes.
“Government should live within our means,” McDaniel said. “The taxes we collect already should be what we use to manage the city and pay our bills.”
She believes keeping development, permitting, application and impact fees low will enable Washougal to be competitive and hopefully attract new businesses to the area.
McDaniel is also optimistic about the work of the Camas-Washougal Economic Development Association, which is financed by the two cities ($50,000 each) and the Port of Camas-Washougal ($100,000).
“It never hurts a city to promote itself that way,” she said. “I think it’s money well spent. It’s definitely going to help us attract new businesses. The Columbia River Economic Development Council mostly focuses on the west side. We’ve got to do something to jump start the economy and bring family wage jobs to our area.”
Anderson expects the widening of state Route 14 will attract companies to Camas and Washougal.
“Obviously, people are finding their way to move out this way,” she said. “Hopefully, they can bring some businesses. It’s a nice area. People who live here could start putting some businesses here.”
Anderson said she would like to see more community involvement –– as demonstrated in Frontier Days and sporting events years ago.
“I’m sitting on the benches now with old schoolmates because their kids are playing with my kids,” she said. “I want people to see what a neat town this is and participate –– come up with something creative.”
McDaniel described herself as a consensus builder.
“We need to always put Washougal first any time we make a decision,” she said. “As long as we are doing that, then there really isn’t any wrong decision.
“We have seven very different, very vocal, opinionated council members,” McDaniel added. “I believe that each one has something to offer. Any time we go through a discussion on an issue, someone will bring a different side or something we have not thought of before. I think that is valuable.”