Russell says small businesses can be foundation of future

Julie Russell hopes to serve as the next Washougal City Council member in the position 6 seat. A Washougal resident since 2015, Russell says utility costs, community planning and attracting businesses to Washougal are her top concerns.

Candidate Julie Russell’s top issues of concern for the city of Washougal and its residents include high utility costs for consumers.

Russell, a Washougal City Council position 6 candidate, also 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.”

To reduce utility costs, Russell wants the city to look into partnering with other jurisdictions, such as Camas or Clark County, to deliver water and sewer services.

“If you have more customers, the cost per customer goes down,” she said.

Russell, 57, said billing water customers every month, rather than every two months, could make it easier for people who live in fixed incomes, to pay.

She is a former commissioner for the water district in Tigard, Oregon. Russell moved to Washougal in November of 2015.

To attract more businesses to Washougal, she said the city should streamline the permit process.

Russell recommends there be additional conversations with local developers and Port of Camas-Washougal, the city of Camas and Clark County leaders regarding the addition of recreation facilities or resources such as paddleboard and kayak rentals at Cottonwood Beach.

She thinks there should be a measurable goal for economic development.

“How many businesses do you want to attract?” Russell asked. “Is the money actually generating economic growth?”

She was referring to the $50,000 that the city of Washougal pays each year to the Camas-Washougal Economic Development Association. The city of Camas also pays $50,000, and the Port of C-W pays $100,000 annually.

Russell said owners of businesses that have closed should be asked what happened and was there anything the city could have done to promote their businesses and help them be successful.

She said she wants to serve on the Washougal City Council, because she enjoys engaging in the government process and serving the community.

“I like the idea of making the community a better place for our children and grandchildren,” Russell, a mother of four, said.

She said she cares about what the community looks like.

“Camas has done a great job of creating an engaging downtown,” Russell said.

She suggested “something as simple” as a fountain for children to play in, be added to downtown Washougal.

“Let’s make it a well planned community, engaging as many residents as possible,” Russell said.

She would like to see more sidewalks added in Washougal, and make sure there is an adequate number of police officers.

Russell, a licensed marriage and family therapist, is a former volunteer counseling intern for residents at Open House Ministries.

She has a master’s degree in marriage, couples and family therapy from George Fox University, in Newberg, Oregon, as well as a bachelor’s degree in psychology and an associate degree in geography, travel and tourism, both from Brigham Young University.

— Dawn Feldhaus, Post-Record staff writer