Coston leads Coursey in Washougal mayor’s race

Voters opt for incumbents over newcomers in most local contests

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The atmosphere inside Washougal mayoral candidate Molly Coston’s election night party at 54° 40’ Brewing Company Tuesday night was optimistic and bouyant. When the first preliminary results came in, that optimism turned to shouts of joy, as Coston’s supporters rushed to hug her and congratulate her on her lead over opponent Dan Coursey.
Others in the room also had smiles on their faces — Port of Camas-Washougal commissioners John Spencer and Larry Keister both won their respective races by rather large margins and Washougal School Board challenger Donna Sinclair, one of the only newcomers to win her election on Tuesday night, also joined in the revelry at 54° 40’ Brewing.
Although there are still more ballots to be counted, as of Wednesday morning, Coston, a former Washougal City Council member, was leading current Washougal Councilman Dan Coursey 54 to 42 percent — with write-in candidate Paul Godin garnering 3.48 percent of the vote — in the closely followed Washougal mayoral race.
“It’s still pretty close,” Coston said Tuesday night. “(But) I think the gap is a big one. I feel like I’ll secure the mayor’s position. That may change in a day or two as things come in.”
The factors that contributed to her campaign’s apparent success, according to Coston, included her neighbors and friends talking to others about her. She also attributed her depth of experience in the community and time spent as a volunteer as contributors to an apparent successful campaign.
There were approximately 50 people, including candidates in other races, at 54°40’ Brewing Tuesday night. Coston distributed kazoos to the crowd and they played “Happy Days are here again.”
“It made people laugh,” Coston said. “It was kind of a silly thing to do.”
Coursey gathered with about 50 friends and supporters at a meeting room in the Best Western Plus Parkersville Inn & Suites, Tuesday night.
Coursey described the Washougal mayoral race as highly contentious all along.
“She has a lot of well known people working for her,” he said, regarding Coston. “It was expected to be a challenge.”
He said his supporters called online posts by Washougal City Council members Brent Boger, Joyce Lindsay and Paul Greenlee about Coursey as “character assassination.”
“There have been times I wanted to say something, but I did not want to go the negative route, and I didn’t.”
On Tuesday night, Coursey said he was “just going to sit tight and wait.”
He referred to the saying, “You really find out who your friends are when you run for office.”
“I’m very appreciative of all the people who helped me along the way,” Coursey said.

Following are preliminary election results from other Camas-Washougal area races:

Camas City Council
Longtime Camas City Councilwoman Melissa Smith will keep her council seat for another term. On election night, Smith held a substantial lead over challenger Emilia Brasier and had garnered 68.87 percent of the vote with 1,719 votes over Brasier’s 763 votes.
“I’m very happy, very thankful and grateful,” Smith said Tuesday night after preliminary results rolled in. “This has been a very tough year for everybody, but I think we just need to be more present, more cognizant. The majority of us are, but we can always be better.”
Of the three open Camas City Council seats on the Nov. 7 ballot, only Smith’s seat was contested. Councilors Steve Hogan and Melissa Turk ran unopposed for their respective ward 2 and ward 3 seats.
The choice between Smith and Brasier came down to political experience versus a fresh voice.
During their campaigns, both women said they were concerned about keeping that “Camas feel” in a city facing rapid growth and expansion.
Smith, 57, a native Camasonian and 1978 graduate of Camas High, has served on the Camas City Council since 2004.
Smith campaigned as someone who could continue to help Camas have “smart growth, good infrastructure and a stable budget” and said she was “passionate about making Camas the best city it can be, while being supportive to staff and sensitive to our citizens’ needs.”
Brasier, 36, says she first thought about jumping into local politics after witnessing development near one of her favorite Round Lake area walks.
“It was jarring. There was no buffer,” Brasier says of the development occurring near the Camas Lily loop trail by Round Lake.
When she and other neighbors approached city leaders with questions about the development, Brasier says they came away with more questions than answers.
“We felt ignored, like we weren’t being taken seriously,” she explained.
Brasier said she was feeling OK about the election results on Tuesday night, but that she hoped Smith had heard some of the issues Brasier tried to bring up during her campaign.
“I hope this allows her to hear her constituents’ concerns,” Brasier said.

Washougal City Council
Washougal City Council position 6 candidate Julie Russell led Adam Philbin 55.4 percent to 44.06 percent on Tuesday night.
“I am honored that this many people chose to vote for me, and I hope the trend continues,” Russell said.
Factors that contributd to her campaign’s success, according to Russell, included her concern about high utility rates and her previous elected experience as a Tigard Water District commissioner. Russell, a licensed marriage and family therapist, said during an interview with The Post-Record in October that she wants to see Washougal attract businesses and have good community planning in the areas of transportation and growth.
“Washougal is very deficient in small businesses,” she said. “That income, from sales tax, has a huge impact on small municipalities.”
Philbin was not available to comment about the election results, prior to press deadlines.
He is the safety, security and emergency manager for the Shriners Hospital for Children in Portland.
Philbin said during an interview in October that he believes Washougal’s infrastructure has not kept up with the population growth during the past decade.
Washougal City Councilman Paul Greenlee retains his position 3 seat, since he ran unopposed. Council members Ray Kutch and Brent Boger also ran unopposed.

Port of Camas-Washougal
The Port of Camas-Washougal had two open seats in the Nov. 7 election, and both were contested. Port commissioners John Spencer and Larry Keister both faced challengers on Tuesday, with Spencer facing off against Mark Forbes for his district 1 seat and Keister hoping to retain his district 3 spot against challenger Adam Parsley.
Both incumbent commissioners handily won their races on Tuesday.
Spencer was beating his opponent by more than 40 percentage points Tuesday night, with 3,840 votes (72.22 percent) over Forbes’ 1,446 votes (27.20 percent).
“I’m feeling very good,” Spencer said from the election night party at 54°40’ Brewing in the Port’s industrial park, which he was attending with several other local political winners, including Molly Coston, likely to be Washougal’s next mayor, fellow Port Commissioner Larry Keister and Donna Sinclair, the newest member of the Washougal School Board.
“I told someone tonight that it would be win-win for me,” Spencer added. “If I’d lost, I would have had a quarter of my week back, but this is great because it means I get to continue a lot of awesome projects.”
Appointed to the Port of Camas-Washougal Commission in October of 2015, Spencer, 46, has focused on the Port’s role in supporting business and job growth, expanding the marina and airport, but also on building community and on strengthening partnerships with other East Clark County agencies.
His opponent, Mark Forbes, 60, is a former California school board member, avid fisherman and pilot who moved to Washougal 15 years ago and once lived aboard his boat in the Port of Camas-Washougal marina. On Tuesday night, Forbes said he wanted to congratulate Spencer and that he hoped to talk to the re-elected commissioner about some possible improvements at the marina.
Port Commissioner Larry Keister is also holding onto his district 3 seat after Tuesday’s election. As of Wednesday morning, Keister had received 70.37 percent of the vote, compared to 29.02 percent for his opponent Adam Parsley.
Keister said his election win will give the Port an opportunity to continue on some major projects that the commissioners and Port director have been working on for three years.
“It keeps a very good team together,” he said on election night.
Keister attributed his campaign’s success to the port’s reaching out to the community and involvement with Camas and Washougal city and school district representatives.
“We have included citizens in open discussions on decisions and directions that we’ve been going,” he said. “We’ve been very open with the community, and I think the community appreciates that.
“I enjoy what I’m doing, and I will be glad to continue representing the Port of Camas-Washougal,” Keister added.
Keister, a former water quality technician at the Portland Veterans Administration Medical Center who retired in 2013, was appointed to the Port’s District 3 seat, from among five other candidates in April 2017, after three-term Commissioner Bill Macrae-Smith announced his resignation.
Parsley said Tuesday that was not surprised by the results, and added that he believes Keister is a good commissioner.
“There’s no reason or excitement for the people to feel a need for change,” Parsley said. “They’ve been hearing good things about the Port. There’s comfort with it.”

Washougal School District
The Washougal School Board had three seats up for grabs in Tuesday’s election, but only one was contested. Board members Cory Chase and Ron Dinius ran unopposed for their district 4 and 5 seats, but school board member Jaron Barney faced challenger Donna Sinclair for his district 3 seat.
After preliminary results came in Tuesday, it was clear that the incumbent, Barney, had lost his seat to Sinclair. Initial results showed Barney had 846 votes, or 39.61 percent, while Sinclair had 1,280 votes or 59.93 percent.
Although disappointed, Barney said that, for him, the more important thing was that regardless of election results, the Washougal School Board would have people on it who genuinely cared about public education.
“We were both educators,” Barney said of himself and Sinclair. “And I think Donna will do a good job. And if the numbers become official, she’ll be joining a great team.”
Barney, 47, a substitute teacher, was appointed to the board’s district three seat in November of 2015. He said he looks forward to continuing the rest of his term, which ends on Dec. 31, even though he won’t be coming back in January.
Early on Tuesday evening, at an election party for Washougal mayoral candidate Molly Coston at 54°40’ Brewing, veteran educator Donna Sinclair, a history professor at Washington State University Vancouver who earned her master’s degree in history and her Ph.D in urban studies, said she was cautiously optimistic about her chances.
She was unavailable for comment after the results came in.
During her campaign, Sinclair spoke about the importance of public education for individuals, families and the entire community.
“I know that public education changes lives,” she said before the election. “I come from a working-class Northwest family, attended Evergreen public schools and graduated from local universities to become a teacher. Access to education opened my eyes to the wider world and has helped me contribute to my community as a teacher and through service.”
Of the challenge to Barney, Sinclair said it wasn’t personal — it was just a chance for her to run for a public office and try to make a difference.
“This wasn’t about Jaron,” Sinclair says. “It was about competition. It was about me wanting to make a contribution and serve my community.”

Camas School District
Both of the open seats on the Camas School Board were uncontested in the Nov. 7 election, with board members Casey O’Dell and Julie Rotz running unopposed for their district 1 and 2 seats.

Washougal EMS Levy

A Washougal emergency medical services levy has passed, garnering more than the supermajority requirement of at least 60 percent and a minimum of 1,770 “yes” votes.

Washougal City Administrator David Scott said the EMS levy met a validation requirement based on turnout. The number of “yes” votes had to be at least equal to 60 percent of 40 percent of the number of votes cast in Washougal in the last general election, the November 2016 presidential election.

As of Thursday, Nov. 9, the six-year replacement EMS levy had received 2,062 “yes” votes (68.73 percent). It received 938 ”no” votes (31.27) percent).

The levy will cost property owners 50 cents per $1,000 assessed property value for six years. It will cost the owner of a home assessed at $350,000, $14.60 per month or $175 annually, from 2018 through 2023.

In a statement in favor of the EMS levy for the voters’ pamphlet, Washougal Public Safety Committee members City Councilwoman Joyce Lindsay and City Councilman Dave Shoemaker, as well as Adam Brice, president of the East Clark Professional Fire Fighters, IAFF Local 2444, said the levy will provide paramedic responders and the money necessary to support replacement of ambulances and equipment, offset rising fuel costs, continue mandated training as well as community CPR and First Aid training and provide training and support for firefighters and first responders.

Mount Pleasant School District
All of the open positions on the Mount Pleasant School Board were uncontested in the Nov. 7 election. Nancy Kraus was the lone candidate for the Mount Pleasant School District Director position 1 seat, while candidates Rachelle Louise Harding and Kate Stiles also ran unopposed for their respective position No. 2 and No. 5 seats.