Two men who have lived in the local area for most of their lives — incumbent Sean Guard and challenger Earl Scott — are hoping to serve as the mayor of Washougal for the next four years.
Utility rate reductions, parks and promoting economic development are among the issues of interest among them.
Scott, a Washougal resident for 28 years, said he has always had political aspirations.
He previously considered running for Port of Camas-Washougal commissioner, but it would have been a conflict of interest since he was the fire marshal with the City of Washougal. The duties of a fire marshal include inspecting port buildings.
“This is not a quick decision,” Scott said regarding his city council candidacy. “It’s been in the works for quite a long time.
“I’ve been working in the city for 22 years,” he added. “You learn you’re not a political newcomer when you work for the city.”
As the fire marshal for 14 years, Scott said he worked with community development and other city departments.
“I’ve had a network of information I’ve acquired through those years and acquired more knowledge, working within the city’s structure,” he said.
Guard, a Washougal resident for 33 years, would like to be re-elected to “continue what we’ve got going now and finish out some of the pieces we have started.”
“No one could have envisioned three years ago when I walked in, how much we really needed to be helped and fixed and reworked internally,” he said. “We needed to do all this other stuff before moving forward.
“This community lost a couple of years of productivity to put the house back in order,” Guard added.
If elected, Scott would like to promote Washougal businesses through positive media coverage by newspapers, TV and radio. He also wants to see the promotion of family activities sponsored by businesses and assisted by the city.
“Our businesses have to thrive or Washougal will suffer,” Scott said. “I don’t think we are promoting our businesses to the extent that everyone is in a win-win situation.”
He also favors promotion of the city.
“If somebody is coming into the community, we should welcome them and give them the opportunity to research us through social media and web pages so they know our community before they get here, so they feel welcome and not alienated,” Scott said. “We need to make sure it’s updated and current and positive and upbeat.”
Guard said efforts to promote tourism in Washougal have already begun.
He wants to identify all of the reasons that people come to or through the area — such as fishing, boating, kayaking, paddle boarding, going to the Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge, the Two Rivers Heritage Museum, Pendleton Woolen Mills, downtown businesses and motocross — and capitalize on those activities and attractions.
“Then we need to add to our portfolio of opportunities through new ones, through events and through effective and efficient marketing of all of it,” Guard said. “It is an amazing untapped resource for our community efforts.”
Scott would like to see if there are alternative means or methods to mitigate the rising utility costs.
“They are trying to re-adjust all the utility rates, depending on usages and the types of businesses,” he said. “I’d like to see if we can enhance that a little bit better and reduce costs for all vested parties — businesses and residential.”
Scott said restructuring the way bills are paid can help people manage their bills and cut late payment costs. The first half would be due on the third of the following month the bill was posted, and the second half would be due on the third of the next month.
“The customer could choose to pay all the bill in one payment or split it up,” Scott said. “Late fees would not be assessed until the second third of the month. Changing the utility bill into a first half and a second half could assist people on fixed or low incomes.”
He said that same billing structure is being used at the Clark County Assessor’s Office.
Guard said water and sewer operating expenses have been lowered by 6 percent in the past two years. The city has been successful in encouraging builders to construct homes, and families are moving into existing, empty homes.
“Both have increased use of these services and thus revenues into the system,” Guard said.
The city has begun looking for funding and grants to help offset capital costs. It has received a $1 million appropriation from the state for sewer capital projects.
Guard said he and city staff have been working with the State Department of Ecology since 2010 to get relief from capital expansion plans and create a smoother building schedule due to the slowdown of the housing boom.
“That is allowing us to scale back, modify and in some cases, eliminate some parts of the plan — this both lowering and stretching out the timing — both of which have a positive effect on rates,” he said.
Scott said the cost of government could be reduced by utilizing volunteers, reserve police officers and reassigning current staff.
“I would have staff reassess current job duties and responsibilities to ensure the citizens of Washougal are getting the most for their dollar,” he said. “The ratio of workers to supervisors should be three to seven workers to one supervisor, with five workers being the optimal number.
“This also could take people out of their chairs and puts boots on the ground, where and when needed,” Scott added.
Guard said challenges ahead include improving streets. That has involved an inventory and rating of all roads.The costs of street improvements and funding options, such as the city general fund, grants and programs, loans, local improvement districts, car tab fee or a bond, have to be identified.
Scott said Washougal has some of the best parks and recreation opportunities in Clark County.
“I’d like to see those publicized and utilized by everyone in the community,” he said. “I think we can use it as a draw for people to come in and for businesses.”
Guard mentions new parks among the successes of his administration. They include Hartwood and Kerr.
Upgrades to parks have included the replacement of the Hathaway Park boat launch ramp, making it more accessible.
Guard said current efforts should continue to attract jobs for Washougal residents.
That includes “providing predictability in our building and inspection department and timeliness of permits and licenses.”
“We need to continue to beat our own drum through our local efforts, through CWEDA, through CREDC and through any other means possible, to help businesses expand and add jobs and to encourage folks to open new businesses in Washougal,” Guard said.
He includes the strategic planning process, clean audits and working toward the consolidation of the Camas and Washougal fire departments among the accomplishments of his administration for the past 3 ½ years.
“If there is a way to increase our service levels without costing significant more money, then we will be successful,” Guard said, regarding the current functional consolidation. “We are providing a vastly superior service to the community and saving $50,000 to $55,000 a year.
“Breaking even would have been wonderful,” he added. “Saving money is a bonus.”
Guard referred to the development agreement recently approved by the Washougal City Council for the former Hambleton Lumber Sales LLC site at 335 S. “A” St.
It involves Parker’s Landing LLC and the port.
“We need to work very closely with those developers,” Guard said. “That is something positive and does not take away from the community. We cannot shift our focus and abandon the downtown.”
Phase two of downtown redevelopment would involve commercial centers and housing from Washougal River Road to 32nd Street.
Guard said the city’s role would be two-fold. Community Development Director Mitch Kneipp has been assigned to develop what phase 2 would look like, how the city would continue the look of phase one through the rest of the corridor and how it would be funded.
The city would work with developers and CWEDA to bring it all together, according to Guard.
“We still know we have a huge investment in the downtown, and we have a huge responsibility to maintain and enhance that investment down there as well,” he said.
“I have not finished what I originally ran for office for,” Guard added. “We are still midstream on a lot of things. I’d like to see those things completed before the baton gets passed.”
Scott said he has a lot of business and residential contacts.
“I have an open door policy,” he said. “They can come and talk to me, now and in the future.
“Going to the grocery store is a 2 ½ hour experience,” Scott added. “They feel comfortable talking to me. I’m a good listener.”
He said he wants to be the mayor of Washougal so that he can continue to serve the community.
“I just believe I have something to give,” Scott said. “Running for mayor and being the mayor is a way to give back. It’s not a position of power, but a position of responsibility. I’m up for that responsibility.”
Occupation: President, Metropolitan Productions, Inc.
Partner, 3Tree, Inc.
(Both are special event management companies.)
Education: Washougal Public Schools, University of Washington (studied business), continuing education classes at University of Portland, Portland Community College, Institute for Financial Education, graduate Banking School at Ohio State University.
Community Involvement: City of Washougal, Mayor; Association of Washington Cities, Board Member; Clark County Law & Justice Commission Member; Clark County Veteran’s Therapeutic Court, Board Member; Columbia River Economic Development Commission, Director; Camas-Washougal Economic Development Association, Director; Camas Lions Club, member and past president; Camas-Washougal Rotary Club, past member; Providence NBA/NFL Charity Golf Tournament Committee; Business Development Association of East Clark County, founder and past director; Metropolitan Business Association (Portland), past member and director; Washougal City Council, past member and Mayor pro-tem; Camas City Council, past member and Mayor pro-tem; Washougal Planning Commission, past member; Camas Downtown Association, founder and past chairman; Camas-Washougal Chamber of Commerce, director and past president; Camas Parks Bond Committee, past member; Camas-Washougal Community Chest, past president and board member; Clark County Jail Siting Committee, past member; Vancouver City Charter Review Committee, past member; C-Tran Board of Directors, past member; Camas Police Department, former reserve police officer
Occupation: Fire Captain, Washougal Fire Department
Former Fire Marshal with the City of Washougal
Education: Clark College, Diesel Tech program
Chemeketa Community College, Fire Science classes
Portland Community College, Fire Science classes
Bellevue Community College, Fire Science classes
Current Emergency Medical Technician with IV certification
Community Involvement: Former volunteer firefighter for the City of Washougal
Coached track and field for Washougal High School