A Washougal business owner and active community organizer who describes herself as a “liberal inclusive,” is the newest member of the Washougal City Council.
On May 31, Washougal City Council members interviewed six council candidates interested in filling a council seat left vacant after former Councilwoman Joyce Lindsay moved to Bellingham, Washington. Their pick, Alexandra “Alex” Yost, is chef and co-owner of OurBar in downtown Washougal.
The new councilwoman is jumping into her new role, attending her first council workshop and regular meeting on Monday, June 11, but she has been taking an active role in the Washougal community since moving there five years ago.
Yost and her husband, Kevin Credelle, opened OurBar, a restaurant specializing in sustainable, local-farm-to-table ingredients, in downtown Washougal, in 2013. On their OurBar website, Yost and Credelle say they purchase 90 percent of their produce from farms located within 50 miles of Washougal — shopping weekly at the Camas Farmers’ Market and People’s Co-op Farmers’ Market during market season — because they believe supporting sustainable business practices “plays a crucial role in the empowerment and growth of (the) local economy.”
OurBar now has seven employees and has hosted two “Food for Thought” fundraising dinners for The Friends of the Washougal Library Building Fund.
“The restaurant is a community space,” Yost said.
After being sworn-in at the special May 31 meeting, Yost said she was “thrilled” by the announcement.
“I’m excited to roll up my sleeves and get to work,” Yost said.
She recently served on the Washougal Citizens Advisory Committee, which recommended to council that it place a measure on the Nov. 6, 2018 ballot to have voters decide whether to change Washougal’s form of government from mayor-council to council-manager.
The new councilwoman also co-founded Washougal Round Table, a citizen-led group that strives to bring long-term changes through short-term community projects.
“We put action behind words,” Yost said of the volunteer group.
During the May 31 council interviews, Yost said she is deeply committed to the success of the city of Washougal.
City council seats are nonpartisan positions, but Yost, 31, describes herself as someone with liberal values who is inclusive of all ideas.
Yost often attends city council workshops to find out what is happening in her community, and said last week that she would have kept going to meetings even if she hadn’t been appointed to fill Lindsay’s council seat.
During the council interviews, Yost said she is a very good communicator who will “dig in, work hard and ask questions.”
She said the council’s recent decision to reduce the speed limit from 25 to 20 mph on Main Street, between Washougal River Road and 22nd Street, will make downtown Washougal more family friendly and show visitors that Washougal values its pedestrians and children.
Yost also said she supports the establishment of a Washougal Arts Commission, with $5,000 in seed money, as a way of adding to the area’s quality of life.
The council members voted 5-1 to appoint Yost, with Councilwoman Michelle Wagner supporting the other finalist, Janice Killion, a retired public agency attorney from California and member of the Clark County Clean Water Commission.
Wagner said she was impressed with Killion’s credentials and interview.
“She has an extensive work history as a lawyer working with local governments, and a resume which made her supremely qualified for the position,” Wagner said. “In addition to her intimate knowledge of the functioning of a similarly positioned city, she championed many of my same causes that I do, to include managing the growth of our city in a thoughtful and responsible way, maintaining the bucolic nature of our community by trying to preserve what we have and working to faithfully represent our citizens and their needs.”
City Council members had also interviewed Donald Lowe Jr., Paul Russell, Kimberly Wongwai and Gregor Theis, before narrowing their choices to Yost and Killion. Three applicants — Paul Godin, Adam Philbin and Karen Susac — withdrew their names from consideration on the day of the interviews.
“They withdrew on Thursday, May 31, for either family/health issues or personal reasons,” Washougal City Clerk Jennifer Forsberg said.
After council members appointed Yost, Washougal Mayor Molly Coston administered the oath of office, and Yost sat among the councilors.
“I’m really excited to be here,” Yost said. “What’s next?”
She is expected to serve as the Position 4 council member until the results of the November 2019 general election have been certified.