Just a few hours after news broke that Washougal police have asked an outside agency to investigate a potential harassment case against Washougal Mayor Sean Guard, the two-term mayor has withdrawn his bid for re-election.
Guard, a Washougal native and the town’s mayor since 2010, had been all set to run for a third term. He even filed early the Clark County Elections Office on Monday, May 15.
But just a few days after he filed, the mayor found himself caught in an online controversy when one of his Washougal constituents, businessman Glenn Kincaid, posted what appeared to be dozens of sexually explicit messages between the mayor and an unnamed Washougal woman.
Kincaid said that after his Facebook post went live, he heard from eight other women who claimed to have received similar messages from the mayor.
Last Thursday, Washougal police said a citizen had made a formal complaint against the mayor and that police were in the early stages of an investigation to determine whether a crime — potentially harassment — had been committed.
Today, police said they have asked an outside agency to take over that investigation.
Three other Washougal residents had thrown their hats in the mayoral race late last week, including Washougal City Council member Dan Coursey and former Councilor Molly Coston.
Another contender, Trianna Reed, a 2002 Camas High grad and office manager, also withdrew her bid for mayor today.
Coursey, who won the City Council Position 7 race against Coston in the November 2015 General Election, said people have been asking him to run for mayor for about two months and added that his decision to run had nothing to do with the potential harassment charges against the mayor.
“I wanted to see if other people were going to step up and do it,” Coursey said.
Coston, a former senior project manager in the telecommunications industry, was on the council from June 2005 through December 2011.
“Mayor Guard has done a good job in office, and it is apparent to me that the allegations made against him are politically motivated,” Coston said on Sunday. “I have not read the Facebook posts, but the fact that the complaint was filed during the candidate filing week is very suspect.”
Coston, 69, said she waited to file as a candidate Friday afternoon, because she wanted to see who else had filed for the mayor’s position.
“I believe that Washougal deserves good solid leadership that is not guided primarily by political agendas, but by experience and professionalism,” she said. “The city has progressed greatly in the past 10 years since I sat on City Council, and I will continue that progress.
“I understand how the city works,” Coston added. “I have connections throughout Clark County, developed through the years.”
Coursey, 63, said, as a council member, he has a voice in city government.
“I have great confidence in everything with the city, including (City Administrator) David Scott,” he said. “Nothing to do with my filing has anything to do with the job they are doing.”
Instead, Coursey said, he believes it’s simply time for a change.
“I don’t think it’s good to have one person to have an office for three or four terms,” he said. “It’s good to have new eyes on things, so you can look at new options and give new input on city government.”
There are no term limits for the mayoral or council positions in Washougal. The primary election will be held Aug. 1, and the general election is set for Nov. 7. For more information, visit www.clark.wa.gov/elections.
Post-Record reporter Dawn Feldhaus contributed to this developing story. Check back for updates online and in this week’s issue of the Post-Record, which comes out Thursday, May 25.