A licensed marriage and family therapist and former commissioner for the water district in Tigard, Oregon, is seeking election to Washougal City Council, Position 6.
Julie Russell, 57, has lived in Washougal since 2015.
“It’s small enough that people recognize when you are new,” she said. “There are friendly neighbors. It is a small town where you help out your neighbors.”
“It’s beautiful,” Russell added. “I love driving down SR-14 and seeing Mt. Hood and the Columbia River.”
Russell says she enjoys seeing turtles and bald eagles in the Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge and kayaking in the Washougal River.
She commends the current Washougal City Council for its plans to create a new trail along South “A” Street that would connect the Port of Camas-Washougal’s waterfront trail to
Steamboat Landing Park.
The council’s goals for this year include exploring the feasibility of and identifying funding for a community-recreation center with pool.
“We might not have the population base to sustain that,” Russell said. “It’s quite an expensive undertaking.”
She added that she would, however, be open to exploring the idea of a recreation center.
“It’s good if people want to pay for it, through an increase in taxes,” Russell explained. “(But) they might not feel it’s worth it.”
She would hope to create a plan that is not too much of a burden on property owners.
Russell commented favorably on the council’s efforts to continue acquisitions for a downtown park and managing street maintenance.
“That is an expensive thing to do,” she said, regarding street maintenance. “We had a tough winter, so it created a lot of potholes.”
Russell would like to maintain the quality of utilities in Washougal and work to reduce those costs.
“Maybe we can partner with other jurisdictions and have more users, to spread the cost of expensive hookups and replacements,” she said.
Russell said Washougal has a deficit in retail businesses.
“Retail helps the economy grow and the city operate more efficiently with a bigger budget,” she said. “It generates more income for the city to offer things like a community center.
“I like how Camas has capitalized on marketing their city as a destination, with First Friday events and Camas Days,” Russell added. “People would love to see events here, as well as places to eat and take your children to play and family recreational things to do.”
Russell, a former volunteer counseling intern for residents at Open House Ministries, said homelessness and drug houses are complicated issues.
“We want the citizens to feel safe and have compassion,” she said. “Having a drug house in a neighborhood is a scary thing and illegal. People’s judgement is impaired when they are taking drugs or drinking too much.”
Russell complimented the Salvation Army, St. Anne’s Episcopal Church and the Inter-Faith Treasure House for helping the homeless. She would like to see a Camas-Washougal homeless coalition that would bridge the gap to help find stable housing and jobs for homeless individuals and families staying in the area.
Russell also would like to see the city simplify the process of obtaining building permits.
She described the process, which includes getting electrical permits and sewer and water hookups, as “laborious and labor intensive.”
“We should be able to speed that process up and make it more efficient,” Russell said.
She is looking forward to the implementation of the Port of Camas-Washougal’s waterfront vision and master plan for land next to Washougal Waterfront Park.
“When that takes off, it will help boost Washougal’s growth,” Russell said. “Growth that is planned well is good for the community.
“I am happy to hear anyone’s solutions and ideas,” she added. “No one has all the great ideas. They come from the community.”
In addition to a master’s degree in marriage, couples and family therapy from George Fox University, in Newberg, Oregon, Russell has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and an associate degree in geography, travel and tourism, both from Brigham Young University.