Smith, Russell head to general election in Camas, Washougal city council races

Only 16 percent of eligible county voters cast ballots

Melissa Smith

Julie Russell

Unofficial results for the Aug. 1 Primary and Special Election show one local candidate has a clear lead over her opponents.

Camas City Councilwoman Melissa Smith, who faced two challengers for her Ward 1, Position 2 council seat in the primary, garnered nearly 55 percent of the votes (325 votes) on Tuesday night, with challengers Emilia Brasier and Amanda Stamness splitting the remaining votes: 160 votes (26.85 percent) went to Brasier and 109 votes (18.29 percent) were for Stamness.

“I’m happy about it … grateful,” Smith said Tuesday night, after preliminary results started rolling in. “I’ve had a lot of people calling me and asking about the issues. I guess they liked my answers.”

Smith added that she suspected voter turnout would be low and she was correct: the overall voter turnout as of Tuesday night was just 16 percent for all of Clark County and 13 percent for the city of Camas. Those numbers could increase slightly as ballots turned in on election night and postmarked by Aug. 1 are included in the results. Elections officials will certify the official results on Aug. 15.

Smith said the promising lead means she can now switch gears from the primary to the general election.

“I’ll give it a couple weeks and then I definitely have some things to think about,” Smith said.

A Camas City Council member since 2004, this is the first time Smith has faced challengers in the primary election. The top two vote-earners will move on to the Nov. 7 General Election.

Brasier said she was excited by the possibility of moving on to the general election.

On Wednesday morning, there were still 12,000 out of 50,597 ballots to be counted, but Brasier’s lead over Stamness seemed substantial enough to secure her a position in the November general election.

“It’s an honor that people are voting for me and have confidence in me,” Brasier said.

In Washougal, where three candidates are vying for that city council’s Position 6 seat — left vacant after Washougal City Councilman Dave Shoemaker decided to not run for re-election after serving two terms on the council — candidate Julie Russell said she was “cautiously optimistic and very pleased” with the results on Tuesday evening.

As of print time Wednesday, Russell had 541 votes (39.52 percent), compared to Adam Philbin with 455 votes (33.24 percent) and Nettie Morris with 351 votes (25.64 percent).

Russell, 57, has lived in Washougal since 2015. She is a former Tigard, Oregon, Water District commissioner. Russell is a licensed marriage and family therapist and mental health counselor, as well as registered play therapist.

Morris, 67, has lived in Washougal since 2005. She is a former vice president and shop steward of the American Federation of State county and Municipal Employees. Morris previously worked as a program manager and lead residential support specialist for adults with disabilities. She is a former employee and volunteer at the West Columbia Gorge Humane Society, in Washougal.

Russell said Tuesday night she was not sure how people would feel about her being a newcomer to Washougal and running for office.

“The other candidates have been here for a long time,” she said.

“I would appreciate the opportunity to serve,” Russell added. “I’m just excited and looking forward to meeting more people in the community.”

Philbin said he also felt confident in the early results.

“Well, (I’m) pretty excited,” Philbin said. “It’s still really close so I’m not getting too attached to the results right now but I’m pretty confident.”

The candidate said he hoped more voters would turn out for the general election in November, when Washougal will post an EMS bond, possibly generating more excitement in the local election.

To see all of the results for the Aug. 1 Primary and Special Election, visit http://results.vote.wa.gov/results/20170801/clark/.

News intern Tori Benavente contributed to this report.