While Connie Jo Freeman is questioning some of the donations that have been made to her opponent Molly Coston’s campaign, Freeman is choosing to only provide information about donations of $100 and more.
Freeman is challenging the incumbent Coston for the Washougal City Council Position No. 7.
In an email that mentions she is not obligated by the State Public Disclosure Commission at this phase of her campaign to disclose the names of donors and contribution amounts, Freeman said she was willing to comply with the Post-Record’s early request of the information “for the sake of cooperation and transparency.”
Prior to the Aug. 16 primary, Freeman’s campaign received $500 each from David and Donna Madore. The Madores made the same contributions to Freeman’s campaign for the Nov. 8 General Election.
David Madore, chief executive officer of U.S. Digital Corporation, of Vancouver, has been involved with the NoTolls.com political action committee. The PAC’s website refers to its preferred plan for an I-5 replacement bridge (Columbia River Crossing) that does not include light rail or tolls, and requires at least 50 percent federal funding, as well as existing Washington and Oregon state gas taxes to fund the balance.
Washougal City Councilman Dave Shoemaker has contributed $200 to Freeman’s campaign.
Freeman recently accused Coston of having possible conflicts of interest, by questioning campaign donations of $500 from the Washington State Council of County and City Employees Local 307 W and Waste Connections.
According to Freeman, Waste Connections pays the city $151,000 a year in franchise fees for exclusive rights to pick up garbage, while the employees union has a contract with the city for approximately $205,000.
“Coston received the maximum contribution from Local 307 two weeks after voting to create a new union position in city hall,” Freeman said. “The vote was controversial and contentious. Can Coston honestly vote to approve or disapprove any negotiated contract with Local 307 or Waste Connections?
“Coston is supposed to represent the people, not the special interest of unions or private corporations doing business with the city,” Freeman added. “It is not illegal, but it is a major conflict of interest.”
Freeman said Coston should recuse herself from any future votes concerning 307W or Waste Connections or return the campaign donations or both.
The Washougal City Council voted 3 to 3, Sept. 19, to add the position of assistant to the city administrator to the personnel policy manual. The “no” votes were made by Shoemaker, Jon Russell and Jennifer McDaniel. Michael Delavar had an excused absence, and Mayor Sean Guard broke the tie.
The new union member that Freeman referred to will be the city accountant.
Last month, Accounting Manager Rodney Stanton became the city’s assistant finance director in a lateral move, with no additional pay. His current annual salary is $88,896, plus $30,030 in benefits.
Stanton succeeded RJ Stevenson. The title of accounting manager has been replaced by a city accountant, with a decrease in salary and benefits. The reorganization is expected to save the city $10,863 this year.
According to City Finance Director Jennifer Forsberg, management positions are not union, so neither Stevenson nor Stanton were members of 307W. The accountant will be a new staff position and member of the union.
Coston said she takes into account “an array of opinions and information” before she votes.
“While I appreciate people and organizations who contribute to my campaign, my contributors — big and small — and I have never had an understanding of how I will vote on any issue,” she said.
“The central question that guides all my votes is ‘is this good for Washougal?’” Coston added. “The Waste Connections-related vote was guided by the same question. The fact of the matter is that many votes and decisions end up benefiting a great many people at the same time.”
In addition to 307W and Waste Connections, contributors to Coston’s campaign to get re-elected to the council have included former Washougal School Superintendent Teresa Baldwin ($300), Baldwin’s successor Dawn Tarzian ($50), and port commissioner Bill Ward ($30). Coston, Baldwin, Tarzian and Ward are Rotary Club members.
Coston has also received campaign contributions from Steven Clark, of Washougal ($100), and Mike Taylor, of Vancouver ($200).
Coston said if a candidate raises a total of less than $5,000, he or she can choose ‘mini-reporting’ with the PDC. That type of reporting exempts the individual from detailing his or her campaign contributions and expenditures, other than filing a financial statement.
“I chose during the campaign to change from mini-reporting to full reporting, which requires weekly reporting of all contributions and monthly reporting of all expenditures,” Coston said. “Although I had not reached the $5,000 benchmark for reporting, I decided to move to full reporting to be totally transparent. My opponent has chosen not to do so, and so she does not have to report her contributions or expenditures.”
The maximum amount that a candidate can receive per contributor on full reporting is $800 per cycle. The primary and general elections are considered two cycles, so a candidate on full reporting could receive $800 from each donor in the primary and $800 in the general election. In mini-reporting, the maximum allowable is $500 per cycle, per contributor.
Freeman explained her filing method.
“When a candidate files a mini-report –– as I am –– reports are not public at this time,” she said. “No reports are filed until after the election. Therefore my contributions are not available.”
Contributions are received for other council races
Donations for the campaign of Position No. 2 incumbent Rod Morris have been made by Gail Burgess, of Washougal ($800), WSCCCE Local 307W ($500), and WSCCCE ($300).
Morris’ campaign has also received contributions from the Building Industry Association of Clark County ($200), Evergreen Marketplace Center LLC/Killian Pacific ($150), Ilene Ferrell, of Camas ($60) and Al Schriener, of Vancouver ($50).
Morris contributed $345 to start up his campaign for re-election.
His opponent Caryn Plinski has received $200 from Shoemaker and $75 from Mike Moreau — a council Position 2 candidate in the August primary. Plinski has added $475 for campaign expenses, including signs and a mailer.
The campaign of Position No. 4 incumbent Michael Delavar has received donations of $800 each from the Madores, as well as $200 from Don Bohlin, of Washougal, $200 from the BIA, and $200 from Arne Mortensen.
Donations of $100 each were made by Tom Fowzer, Eric Heredia and Nicholas Sherwood, while Michael Cummins and Jamie Jackson each contributed $50.
The campaign of challenger Joyce Lindsay has received $800 from Burgess, $500 from the Southwest Washington Central Labor Council, and $250 from Waste Connections Inc. Brooke Belman contributed $150, as did EM Center/Killian Pacific and Barry Mitzman.
Lindsay’s campaign has also received contributions of $125 each from James and Joan Caley, and $100 each from Teresa Berryman, Mike Briggs, Blair Butterworth, Ferrell, Gloria Gutierrez, Diane McDade, David Tatelman and Mary Kay Wright.
McDaniel, the Position No. 5 candidate, has received campaign contributions from family members, as well as Jean “Drew” Snyder, of Washougal ($250), and $200 from the BIA.
Port Commissioner Bill Macrae-Smith and his wife Jeannie donated $100 to McDaniel’s campaign, while Roger Daniels, Alice Arnold and Shoemaker each contributed $100.
McDaniel has contributed $700 to her own campaign. Election expenses have included door hangars, postcards and other marketing and advertising costs.
The campaign of challenger Niki Anderson has received contributions from Waste Connections ($500), EM Center/Killian Pacific ($150), Ferrell ($100) and Briggs ($100), as well as $50 each from Jack Burkman, Linda Busch Pfeifle and Brian Paul.
Anderson’s campaign has also received $250 from Jeffrey Barrar, attorney and owner of Vancouver Defenders — the firm that Guard retained to defend him against a gross misdemeanor charge of second degree criminal impersonation of a police officer.
Contributions to port candidates
Bill Ward, the incumbent in the port District 2 seat, said he contributed approximately $2,000 to his own campaign. He also received $250 from Waste Connections and $100 from John Wagoner.
The campaign of challenger Neil Cahoon has received $250 each from Richard Arnold and JP Brooks, as well as $200 from Allen and Kirsten Toedter, Denise Price and AJ and Annette Gomez. Cahoon received numerous donations of $100 including from Dave and Sally Luse. Dave Luse was a port commission candidate in the August primary.
Cahoon’s campaign expenses have included printing services, wood stakes for signs, cards and food and beverages for a fundraiser.
Candidates’ financial statements and campaign contributions — if disclosed — can be found online at www.pdc.wa.gov.