Seat on Washougal School Board up for grabs

Board member won’t seek re-election; special filing period Aug. 7-9

The Washougal School District is seeking candidates to file for its open District 1 board seat, which will be vacated by Teresa Lees. District 1, in west Washougal, is pictured in the yellow section above. (Contributed photo courtesy of Washougal School District)

Teresa Lees, a member of the Washougal School District (WSD) board of directors, has announced that she won’t seek re-election this fall.

At the close of the regular candidate filing period May 17, Clark County election officials had not received any filings for Lees’ District 1 seat. As a result, the Auditor’s Office has scheduled a special filing period to begin at 8 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 7, and end 5 p.m. Friday, Aug. 9. People interested in filing for the position can visit the Clark County Elections Office, 1408 Franklin St., Vancouver, or clarkvotes.org.

Candidates can submit voter pamphlet information and a photograph on Aug. 13-14, according to WSD.

“I believe that whoever files during the filing period goes right to the general election. They won’t be in the primary,” said WSD board president Cory Chase. “If nobody files, we’ll post the position, conduct interviews and select a person, and they’ll have to run for re-election during the next cycle if they so choose.”

WSD’s District 1 represents an area to the west of Washougal River Road and Woodburn Road, plus part of downtown Washougal. A map of director districts can be found on the WSD website.

“Hopefully we can add a teammate that shares our values and is interested in helping us rise to the top and understands that we want to make sure that all students are supported, no matter their background,” said WSD superintendent Mary Templeton. “We’re hoping that somebody sees our opening and says, ‘This is my chance to get in there and make a difference.'”

Of the 19 combined open seats in the cities of Camas and Washougal, Camas and Washogual school districts and Port of Camas-Washougal, just three are currently projected to be contested, according to votewa.gov.

Shannon Roberts and incumbent Deanna Rusch have filed for Camas city council Ward No. 1, Position No. 1; Denise Korhonen and incumbent Ray Kutch have filed for city of Washougal council Position No. 5; and Cassi Marshall and incumbent Bill Ward have filed for the Port of Camas-Washougal’s commissioner No. 2 position.

Lees, a member of the WSD board since 2014, told the Post-Record that she chose not to file because “it’s somebody else’s turn to be excited and volunteer and have a chance to put in their opinions and thoughts and support the schools and kids.”

“I felt this is a good chance for somebody else to jump in and see how the school board works and to work alongside district staff members and teachers and community members,” she said.

“The main thing I learned is that the community and the schools and the city council and all of the businesses in the area are all willing to help each other out.”

Chase said Lees, a mother of eight children (four of whom are currently WSD students), brought a “well-rounded” thought process to the board.

“I’m not a political person. That’s not my strong point,” Lees said. “When I first got on the board, I had several kids in the district, and it was hard to volunteer in all of their classes at the same time. I felt this was an opportunity for me to help in a different capacity and take a look from above and see things from the outside and support in that way.”

Chase said that Lees is “very good at building relationships” and uses her strong analytical abilities to improve the quality of discussions and debates among board members.

“She has an even personality. You don’t get a lot of highs and lows with her,” he said. “She’s well-known throughout the community, and has built a lot of bridges. She is thoughtful in how she goes about her business; she doesn’t jump to conclusions. She seeks to learn and understand all sides of an issue. She brought a good perspective to the board.”

Lees is a “passionate advocate for socio-economic disparity,” according to Templeton.

“She asks questions to make sure we have included everybody as we move forward with policy, process or a new model,” Templeton said. “She has a tremendous lens for equity.”

Chase and Templeton both said that they’d be surprised if Lees doesn’t continue to be involved with the district in another capacity going forward.

“She is a positive influencer and a champion for our students,” Templeton said. “She’s very visible and present; I see her at a lot of community events. She’s dedicated to the district, and its success is important to her. She’s the most positive person I’ve ever met.”