Shannon Turk named mayor of Camas

Councilors vote to appoint third-term councilwoman to lead city government

The city of Camas has a new mayor.

City councilors unanimously appointed Camas City Councilwoman Shannon Turk to lead the city on Nov. 14.

Turk replaces longtime Camas Mayor Scott Higgins, who resigned earlier this year, and left office at the end of September. Councilman Don Chaney served as the city’s mayor pro tem in the interim, but did not seek mayoral appointment by the council.

Turk, in her third term on council, will lead the city through Dec. 2, 2019, when a mayor elected by voters in November 2019 will take office for four years.

She said she knew she was going to apply for the mayoral appointment the moment Higgins told councilors he was resigning.

“I am feeling very excited to come into the job. It’s a fantastic feeling to have the support of the council going forward as the mayor. The first thing we will start working on is improving communication,” Turk said.

Higgins, a Camas native known for his staunch support of all things “Papermakers,” left the position prematurely to spend more time with his family, which includes a daughter in college and another daughter who will soon graduate from Camas High School. He served on Camas City Council from 2002 to 2011 and as mayor from 2011 to 2018.

The new mayor, who said previously that communication between government officials and citizens is important to her, said one of her first projects will be the creation of a multi-part course to help residents better understand Camas government.

“My first goal would be to communicate with council and to citizens so I can see what the issues are that they find most pressing,” Turk said.

A resident of Camas since 2002, Turk grew up in Portland and Tacoma, Washington, and now works in Vancouver Public Works as a management analyst.

During her interview with councilors on Wednesday, Nov. 14, Turk discussed what she saw as looming challenges for the city, including funding services and growth management. She said she believed her familiarity with city government was one of her strengths.

“I’m good at what I do because I love what I do. I would love to be the mayor because I see so much opportunity,” Turk said.

The councilors’ options for mayor included two sitting city councilors, Turk and Melissa Smith, as well as two citizens who currently hold no public office — former Camas Mayor Dean Dossett and Pastor Geoerl Niles, founder of The Calling Church in Vancouver.

Councilors asked each of the four candidates the same questions during their interviews on Nov. 14. Turk and Smith were recused from the vote. Councilors then went into a closed executive session to make their final decision, and came back to a public session to announce the mayoral appointment.

On Nov. 19, Smith said she was disappointed, but understanding of council and the selection.

“I support what they said, and I’ll support Shannon to the best of my ability. However she needs my help, I’ll do it,” Smith said. “It’s a new chapter for all of us. I think it’s a great opportunity for us to move forward and become more collaborative.”

Turk said she was not concerned about her relationship with Smith.

“Melissa and I have sat next to each other for the past seven years. We both have a lot of respect for each other,” said Turk. “She is handling all of this with grace and a lot of integrity.”

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