Community Educator is appointed to Washougal City Council

Ernie Suggs succeeds Dan Coursey

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A man who identifies himself as a conservative and wants “whatever is good for the community” is a new Washougal City Council member.

The six Washougal councilors appointed Ernie Suggs from among eight candidates who were interviewed during the council’s regular meeting Monday, April 23. Suggs, 70, succeeds Dan Coursey in Position 7.

There had been 10 applicants, but Marvin Toelupe  and Karen Susac had family emergencies and were not available.

In addition to Suggs, Janice Ferguson, Lori Rose, Donald Lowe Jr., David Szyplinski, Paul Godin, Adam Philbin and Roxy Cate were the other council applicants who were interviewed.

“After seeing all the other possible candidates, I was very humbled to be chosen and very excited,” Suggs said Tuesday morning.

He served 35 years as director of the Camas Community Education program and assisted with organizing Washougal Community Education and Recreation. He is a co-founder, board member and former two-time president of the Washougal Schools Foundation.   

After the initial interviews, Suggs and Ferguson — a 20-year member of the Washougal Parks Board, chairperson of the Washougal Arts and Culture Alliance and member of the Clark County Arts Commission — were named as finalists and addressed questions regarding positive and negative changes they have noticed in Washougal and the potential of a Camas-Washougal community center.

Some of the changes Suggs referred to include the expansion of the city,  the city and churches helping local homeless individuals and a continuation of creating better schools in Washougal. Regarding a community center, Suggs said it will involve money and commitment from the city of Camas, Camas and Washougal school districts, and potentially Clark County.

Ferguson talked about the optimism of Washougal residents and their willingness to share ideas for the city’s future  through organizations such as the citizen-led Washougal Round Table.

Regarding a community center, Ferguson mentioned that Camas, Washougal and Port leaders could work together to replace the closed Crown Park pool — possibly along the Washougal waterfront on land owned by the Port of Camas-Washougal.

After the final interviews, Council members Julie Russell, Ray Kutch, Paul Greenlee and Michelle Wagner voted to appoint Suggs, while Joyce Lindsay and Brent Boger listed Ferguson as their top choice.

Coursey resigned in late March, saying that, since he did not win the Washougal mayor’s race in November of 2017, he wanted to take advantage of “considerable professional business opportunities.” He is a contractor who sets up computer networks for large companies.

Suggs is expected to serve as the Position 7 council member until the results of the November 2019 general election have been certified.

When asked whether he was going to consider being a candidate in 2019 for the council seat he was just appointed to, Suggs said Tuesday morning, he would wait and see how he does and if the community wants him.

Applications to be accepted for another Washougal Council vacancy

Washougal residents interested in serving on the City Council will soon have a chance to apply for Position 4, since Lindsay’s resignation will go into effect May 31. Lindsay plans to move closer to her family in the Bellingham area.

City officials are expected to release application information soon.

Interviews for Council Position 4 will take place at 6 p.m., Thursday, May 31, during a special City Council meeting, in City Hall, 1701 “C” St.