Washougal begins shift to ‘strong council’ govt

Council will appoint a mayor on Dec. 3

The city of Washougal is preparing to move forward with the transition from mayor-council, or “strong mayor,” to council-manager or “strong council” after the majority of voters approved Proposition 8 in the general election.

The new form of government will go into effect as soon as the election results are certified Tuesday, Nov. 27. On that day, Washougal Mayor Molly Coston, will become Washougal City Councilmember Coston.

Mayor Pro Tem Paul Greenlee will fill in as mayor from Nov. 27 through the beginning of the city council’s next regular meeting at 7 p.m., Monday, Dec. 3, when the council is expected to appoint a mayor from among the members of the eight-person council.

“Until the council meets again at which time they can appoint a new mayor under the new form, state law and our code indicates that the mayor pro tem fills that role,” Washougal City Administrator David Scott said. “There are no meetings scheduled during that window of time, so that temporary role is generally ceremonial.”

With the new form, the Washougal City Council will continue with eight members until the expiration of Coston’s current term in December 2021.

After Coston’s term expires, the council would revert to seven members. The council would designate one of its members to hold the position of mayor, and that person would chair council meetings and represent the city at ceremonial occasions.

Coston has said she would like to continue to serve as mayor.

Councilors appointed Scott as city manager, and he will assume executive authority on Nov. 27.

“Municipal Research and Services Center (MRSC) advised that we need to have a city manager in place immediately on the effective date of Nov. 27, so that there is no interruption of the executive role,” Scott said.

In the Nov. 6 general election, 3,375 (54.53 percent) of the participating Washougal voters approved the adoption of the council-manager form of government, while 2,814 voters (45.47 percent) voted against it.