Gerde plans to leave city council

Longtime Camas elected leader wants to spend more time with family

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A Camas City Council woman noted for her attention to detail and fiscal responsibility announced last night that she intends to leave her elected position at the end of the year.

Helen Gerde, who is serving her 15th year on the city council, said she made the decision because she wants to spend more time with her grandchildren, including helping to care for her newest grandchild in Kirkland, Wash.

“I never would have thought I’d end up doing this,” she said of being a member of the city council. “I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.”

Gerde, 63, took her first foray into city government as a member of the Parks and Recreation Commission. She was then appointed to the Planning Commission, an entity she served on for two years before running for city council. She was first elected in 1995, running unopposed in all four of her bids for the seat.

Representing Ward 1, Gerde’s most recent four-year term would have expired at the end of 2011.

“I didn’t intend to be here this long,” she said. “It’s time for new blood. There’s lots of good citizens out there who could serve. They’d have a great time — never a dull moment.”

As she attempted to make the announcement to her fellow council members Monday, Gerde fought back tears and deferred to Mayor Paul Dennis to inform everyone her resignation letter had been submitted.

“I appreciate Helen for all of her years of service, and I appreciate everything she’s brought to the team,” said Dennis, who joined the council not long after Gerde. “It’s not going to be easy seeing her go.”

During her tenure, Gerde has been involved on committees that helped guide the planning of several new facilities, including the Camas police station on Northeast Third Avenue, the west side fire station on Northwest Parker Street, and — a highlight for Gerde — the new library, which was completed in May 2003 on Northeast Fourth Avenue in downtown.

An avid walker, she also mentioned pride in the city’s ongoing efforts to expand the parks and open space areas and trail system available to citizens.

“I know I am going to miss it, but life goes on,” she said. “It does get in your blood though, I must say.”