Like many who find themselves drawn to local politics, Camas City Council candidate Amanda Stamness says it was a hot-button issue that first caught her attention.
“I had heard that they were considering a tax on utilities and I wanted to find out more,” Stamness, a relative newcomer to the Camas community, says.
After talking to local politicians about the city’s structural deficit and the reasons why some local leaders feel a utility tax could be a good revenue source, Stamness found herself warming to the idea of being a part of the local political scene.
A Kansas native who lived in Ohio and California before moving to the Portland area a few years ago and to Camas in 2014, Stamness says she chose to run for city council because felt disappointed by the majority of state and national politicians, was disenchanted by what she saw as a concentrated effort to delegitimize the Libertarian Party on a state and national level, and because she wanted to make a difference in her new community.
Although Stamness admits to having little to no experience in local government, she says she hopes her background in management, investment management, commercial lending and institutional portfolio management will give her a leg up when it comes to managing the city and dealing with public finances.
“I haven’t really followed the city council … and I’ve never been involved in local politics before,” Stamness admits. “I’m a novice, but the comfort I have is that the others on the council, along with the mayor, have been there for a while and would, hopefully, be able to bring me up to speed.”
Asked what she would like to see change within the city council, Stamness, who is competing against two other candidates — including three-term incumbent city councilor Melissa Smith — for the Ward 1, Position No. 2 seat, said she is somewhat satisfied with how the city has been run in the past and that she is not necessarily running to unseat Smith, but because she wanted to take part in local politics and the Ward 1, Position 2 seat was the one that happened to fit her address.
“Actually, I found out that Melissa Smith is my neighbor!” Stamness says. “I’m not running because of her … I wanted to run and this was the position that was open.”
Stamness lives with her third husband, Kevin Hensel, and the couple’s cat — a “feline overlord” Stamness jokes, who came to them as a stray — in Camas and commutes four days a week via public transportation to her job with U.S. Bank in downtown Portland. She has three grown children from her first marriage and one grandchild, a 4-year-old grandson.
When she’s not working in portfolio management for public institutions or running her campaign to be a city councilor, Stamness says she and her husband love to go camping and enjoy the natural areas of Southwest Washington and the rest of the Pacific Northwest.
If elected to the city council, Stamness says she would go in without many expectations, but would draw on her ability to tighten her belt when necessary and make hard cuts to the city’s budget, if needed.
“My husband and I bought a home in Camas primarily because it is a safe community offering a high standard of living,” Stamness states in her candidate statement. “My goal as a member of the city council would be to protect that quality of life; to assist in managing growth through wise financial decisions; maintain a balanced budget without raising taxes; to advocate for the citizens’ needs on county matters; to cultivate a partnership between the city and its residents; and nurture a business friendly environment.”