Coston wins Washougal mayoral race

Did proposed oil terminal in Vancouver affect the results?

Incoming Washougal Mayor Molly Coston and former mayoral candidate Dan Coursey are expressing different thoughts about whether Washougal residents’ opinions on the proposed Tesoro Savage Vancouver Energy oil terminal at the Port of Vancouver affected their votes for mayor.

Coston received 1,637 votes (54.04 percent), while Coursey received 1,272 votes (41.99 percent). Declared write-in candidate Paul Godin received 120 votes (3.96 percent).

Coston said she did not think the Washougal mayoral election results were strongly affected by the oil terminal issue, but she did have some people ask her how she felt about it.

“I’m not in favor of the oil terminal. A few people, who are aware of politics beyond Washougal, asked,” Coston, the new mayor elect, said. “I was endorsed by the Sierra Club, which is strongly opposed to the oil terminal. It would negatively impact Washougal in a number of ways.

The number of trains coming through town would dramatically increase. It would cause more congestion and more traffic.”

The Vancouver Energy project would bring oil trains carrying 360,000 barrels of Bakken crude oil through Camas-Washougal every day, en route to the proposed Port of Vancouver terminal.

Coursey said he does not think his campaign was affected by voters who feel strongly about the proposed oil terminal.

“I have no connection to the oil terminal,” he said.

Coursey’s campaign contributors included some members of the Vancouver Energy-funded group known as the Washington Coalition for Energy Independence.

“The people who contributed to me, contributed because they are longtime friends,,” Coursey said. “That’s all. There is no other connection.”

Coursey called Coston on Nov. 9 to concede the mayoral race and congratulate her on her Nov. 7 election victory.

“He was very gracious, which I appreciated,” Coston said, regarding Coursey’s concession call. “We both agreed that we could work together in the future to improve Washougal.”

Coursey, 63, will continue to serve on the city council. His current term is in effect through Dec. 31, 2019.

Coursey said it was a hard-fought mayoral campaign on both sides.

“I look forward to working with Molly, and for great things to happen here in Washougal under her leadership,” Coursey said.

“Washougal is a great place, and there will be opportunities to make things better in the future,” he added. “I will cheer our new city mayor on and help as best as I am able.”

Coston, 69, will succeed Mayor Sean Guard on Jan. 1, 2018. He withdrew his bid for a third-term as Washougal’s mayor in May, after police said they were investigating harassment allegations against him.

The Washington State Patrol completed their investigation in August, and forwarded possible solicitation of a prostitute charges against Guard to the Clark County Prosecuting Attorney’s office. That office has not yet filed charges against the Washougal mayor, and has not returned calls from this newspaper regarding possible charges in the future.

Final results for the Nov. 7, 2017 election will be certified on Nov. 28.