Who’s funding whom?

A closer look at campaign dollars flowing through the Camas-Washougal elections

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It may be a drop in the bucket compared to the money flowing through national politicians’ coffers, but campaign finance is still a critical piece of local elections and can tell voters a lot about who might influence a particular candidate’s decision-making in the future.

With that in mind — and with ballots arriving in the mail this week — we’ve compiled campaign finance data on each of the candidates currently running for Camas-Washougal mayor, city council, school board and port commission positions.

Nearly all of the money involved in the local Nov. 7, 2017 General Election is going to Washougal candidates and primarily to Molly Coston and Dan Coursey, the two main candidates in line to be Washougal’s next mayor. Although they have raised similar amounts — roughly $13,000 for Coston and $12,000 for Coursey — there is a stark difference between each candidate’s campaign funders. For instance, Coston’s money tends to come in smaller increments from residents inside the Camas-Washougal area, while Coursey’s funds are coming in larger amounts from people who live in Vancouver and other parts of Clark County.

In light of recent breaking news from our sister paper, The Columbian, focusing on a $225,000 contribution from Vancouver Energy, the entity behind the proposed Tesoro-Savage oil terminal, to Port of Vancouver District 1 candidate Kris Greene, it is worth noting that money connected to the Vancouver Energy-funded group known as the Washington Coalition for Energy Independence (WCEI) is also filtering into the local Washougal mayoral race.

Candidate Dan Coursey has, so far, received at least $1,500 from members of the WCEI and their spouses. If approved, the Vancouver Energy project would bring oil trains carrying 360,000 barrels of highly flammable Bakken crude oil through Camas-Washougal every day, en route to the proposed Port of Vancouver oil terminal. Washougal’s current mayor, Sean Guard, and the Washougal City Council have voiced official opposition to the oil terminal project.

Here’s a closer look at the campaign funding behind each of the Camas-Washougal races on the Nov. 7, 2017 General Election ballot:

Washougal Mayoral Race

As of Tuesday, Oct. 17, the two main candidates in the Washougal mayoral race, Molly Coston and Dan Coursey, had raised a combined total of $25,171, with $13,415 going to Coston, a former Washougal City Council member, and $11,756 to Coursey, a current Washougal city councilman.

Coston: Although she has had a few out-of-area contributors, residents of Camas-Washougal have donated the lion’s share of Coston’s campaign money, so far. Of her total $13,415 in contributions, $11,665 (87 percent) comes from Camas-Washougal residents. A full 75 percent of her contributions ($10,015) are from city of Washougal residents. Only 13 percent are from people outside the area and most of those contributors are listed as Vancouver residents.

Most of Coston’s donations are coming in smaller increments of less than $100. Of her total $13,415 in contributions, 43 percent were donations of less than $100; 25 percent were contributions of $100 to $200 and 32 percent came in increments of more than $200.

Coston’s largest donations, so far, come from the East Clark Professional Fire Fighters’ IAFF Local 2444, which donated $1,000; and from H-RoC, an independent, non-partisan Vancouver political action committee (PAC) that formed in 2011 to “advance women leaders in Southwest Washington,” which contributed $750.

The former Washougal City Council member also has garnered financial support from several current and former elected officials, including $500 each from Washougal city councilors Brent Boger and Paul Greenlee; $150 from Vancouver city councilor Jack Burkman; $130 from Washougal City Councilwoman Joyce Lindsay; $100 each from Port of Camas-Washougal Commissioner John Spencer and East County Fire & Rescue Commissioner Martha Martin; and $50 each from former Camas Mayor Nan Henriksen and Port of Camas-Washougal Commissioner Larry Keister.

Coston also received a $200 contribution from former Washougal School District teacher Brian Eggleston, a 2010 finalist for state teacher of the year who made headlines again last spring, after being placed on paid administrative leave pending a school district inquiry over undisclosed allegations of wrongdoing. Eggleston, who denied wrongdoing and said the allegations stemmed from a grading issue, resigned in June. The president of the Washougal teachers’ union later said the district had not uncovered any wrongdoing on Eggleston’s part.

Coursey: Coursey’s campaign finance picture is an inverted version of his opponent’s. Instead of smaller, more local contributions, the current Washougal City Council member has mostly drawn larger amounts from people living outside the Camas-Washougal area.

Of the $11,756 given to Coursey’s campaign, 82.5 percent ($9,700) was in increments larger than $100, with about 56 percent ($6,600) coming from contributions of more than $200. Coursey’s biggest contributors — the Clark County Republican Party, David Madore and Donna Madore — each gave $1,000.

Coursey also garnered large contributions from John Ley, a candidate running for Liz Pike’s state representative district 18 seat in 2018, who gave $500; John Hynds, an engineering manager with Polycom Inc., who donated $800; Creekside Contracting Inc., owned by Nick Springer, which donated $500; and Eric Cordova, a member of the WCEI group, who donated $750. Coursey also received $200 each from Glenn Kincaid, the Washougal-area man who released graphic sexual Facebook messages from the current Washougal mayor, Sean Guard, earlier this year, kicking off a scandal that resulted in a three-month police investigation and the mayor’s withdrawal from the Aug. 1 Primary Election; and from Republican Washington State Rep. Liz Pike. He also received $100 from Clark County Commissioner Eileen Quiring,

The mayoral candidate has, so far, collected at least $1,500 from people connected to the pro- oil terminal WCEI group, including Cordova and his wife, Rebecca; Kirk Van Gelder; Joseph Wagner; Anthony Gomez; David Madore’s former private assistant, Anna Miller; and Cindy Cox, wife of Steven Cox, a WCEI member and former Vancouver mayoral candidate.

Another highlight of Coursey’s campaign contributions is the fact that the majority are coming from outside the Camas-Washougal area. Of the $11,756 Coursey has raised so far, 56.4 percent ($6,625) is from out-of-town contributors. About one quarter of Coursey’s contributions ($3,111) are from Washougal residents.

Washougal voters will decide on Tuesday, Nov. 7, if they want Coston or Coursey to lead their city for the next four years. Ballots are being mailed tomorrow and must be postmarked by Nov. 7, or dropped into an official drop box by 8 p.m. that day.

City Council races

None of the candidates running for city council positions in Camas or Washougal had reported campaign contributions as of Tuesday.

School Board races

None of the candidates running for the Camas School District Board of Directors had reported campaign contributions as of Tuesday.

Donna Sinclair: In the Washougal school board race, only one candidate, history professor Donna Sinclair, has raised campaign money as of Tuesday. Sinclair, who hopes to unseat Jaron Barney for his district three seat in the Nov. 7 election, has so far raised $3,085, mostly from Washougal-area residents. Sinclair’s biggest donations, for $500 each, come from Cynthia Stevens of Arlington, Virginia, and Jade Ward, from Vancouver. She has one $200 donation from Sue Peabody, a fellow history professor at Washington State University Vancouver, and the rest of Sinclair’s donations are in increments of $100 or less. Notable contributions include $50 from Washougal City Council member Joyce Lindsay and $100 from Washougal mayoral candidate Molly Coston.

Port of Camas-Washougal race

As of Tuesday, none of the four candidates running for the two open Port of Camas-Washougal seats in districts one and three had reported contributions over $5,000, as required by the Washington Public Disclosure Commission.