Washougal voters might be surprised to learn there are three candidates for mayor in the Nov. 7 general election — Molly Coston, Dan Coursey and Paul Godin.
Godin filed as a write-in candidate with the Clark County Elections Office on Sept. 8 and paid the $267 filing fee. Hurricane Irma caused a delay in the delivery of his campaign signage from Florida. Godin started installing the signs Sept. 20.
He said he did not declare his candidacy during the filing week in May, because he was filling in as an emergency substitute Spanish teacher at Washougal High School while also working his regular job as a Farmers Insurance owner/agent, in Portland.
Godin, 41, said he did not set out to avoid the Aug. 1 primary.
“It simply was a timing issue,” he said. “From my perspective, the bigger issue was not missing the primary, but rather missing crucial opportunities. By not declaring in May, what I did was miss the opportunity and privilege to listen to and interact with more engaged constituents early on.”
Godin, a three-year resident of Washougal, said by filing as a write-in candidate, he has forfeited the right to be listed in the Clark County Election voters pamphlet.
“By missing the primary season, my campaign became an uphill battle from the onset,” he said. “I have had to largely self-fund this campaign, with little time for fundraisers, shaking hands or kissing babies.”
Godin said he wanted to serve the city of Washougal, and he felt that would probably occur in the role of mayor, but he was not sure when and how that would occur. Then two-term incumbent Mayor Sean Guard withdrew his name as a mayoral candidate on Monday, May 22 — after filing week had ended and allegations of him paying a woman for sexual favors came to light.
“I began having more frequent conversations that this may be my time,” Godin said. “A handful of constituents really weighed in and asked that I step out from serving behind the scenes and consider serving in a more public capacity.
“I determined to be a write-in candidate, when that was the only option left to get in this election cycle,” he added. “I didn’t want to wait four more years to move towards our preferred future, so I chose to throw my hat in the ring now.”
Coursey, a Washougal City Councilman since January 2016, said he was doorbelling for his campaign when he talked to Godin.
“He didn’t say anything about having a campaign or what he was doing, and he didn’t have anything to say to me at the time – curious,” Coursey said regarding Godin.
Coston, a former Washougal City Council member and current mayoral candidate, had not responded in time for this paper’s press deadlines.
Godin said he has been accused multiple times of having nefarious motives in campaigning as a write-in candidate.
“There seems to be fear from both of the other candidates’ base, that I’m trying to split the vote and that I’m not even really interested in the job,” he said.
“I want to make it abundantly clear that I am not in this race to lose, and I have no connection to any of the candidates. I’m not a plant. I sincerely believe that I’m the unifying vote,” Godin added. “Washougal is a jurisdiction of about 15,500, yet only 3,000 to 4,000 turn out to vote. That is only one-fifth representation. … I believe I represent the interests of a larger and growing constituency.”
General election ballots will be mailed Friday, Oct. 20.