Burton appointed to Camas council

Mayor’s vote breaks tie after city council indecision over two of eight applicants

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Longtime Camas resident Ellen Burton (left) talks to Camas Community Development Director Phil Bourquin on Tuesday evening inside Camas City Hall as council members deliberate in executive session.

Ellen Burton, a 20-year Camas resident with extensive business experience and letters of recommendation from two prominent Camas leaders, is the newest member of the Camas City Council.

Camas Mayor Shannon Turk cast the tiebreaking vote Tuesday night, nearly one hour after saying she was glad she didn’t have to vote for her replacement on the council, because she wouldn’t want to choose from eight very qualified candidates.

After conducting applicant interviews, city councilors went into a nearly 30-minute executive session Tuesday evening before taking a roll-call vote for the council’s next member.

At first, councilors were varied in their preferences, with Burton and former Washougal City Councilwoman Jennifer McDaniel each garnering two votes — Steve Hogan and Bonnie Carter cast votes for Burton while Melissa Smith and Deanna Rusch voted for McDaniel — and other applicants, including first-generation immigrant and civil engineer Mahsa Eshghi and pharmacist Mark Smith, getting one vote each.

On a second roll-call vote, Councilman Don Chaney changed his vote from Smith to McDaniel and Councilman Greg Anderson changed his vote from Eshghi to Burton, which meant the council had a 3-3 tie between Burton and McDaniel.

The council went back into closed executive session for another 30 minutes before voting again — twice — only to keep the 3-3 tie between Burton and McDaniel.

Council rules say the mayor can break a tie vote, so Turk had to pick her council replacement.

In the end, she went with Burton.

“A 20-year Camas resident with 30 years in Clark County, I’ve seen Camas transform from a mill town, endure recession and resurge into a thriving community,” Burton told the city councilors in her application letter. “We’ve experienced rapid growth and development. While the demographics changed, so has the need for city services and role of city government.”

Burton came with letters of recommendation from former Camas mayor Nan Henriksen, who said Burton’s professional experience working for companies such as Wacom Technology Corp. and Hewlett-Packard, gave her “a great background in budgeting and finance, marketing, policy development and strategic planning,” and from Camas School District Superintendent Jeff Snell, who said he believed Burton’s wisdom, kindness and presence in the community would help her “do an excellent job as part of the trusted team leading our community.”

Burton said she “takes the long view” when it comes to Camas’ growth and sustainability and feels the city needs to partner with regional and state organizations if it wants to be able to effectively compete with global cities to attract international companies that offer living wage careers.

“My primary interests are influencing the strategic direction and policies of Camas to preserve the character of the community while ensuring sustainable fiscal stability and responsible growth management and attracting and retaining employers with family wage jobs,” Burton told city councilors.

Burton will be sworn-in during the Camas City Council’s meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 22.

Voters will decide in November 2019 who will fill the remaining two years of the seat’s four-year term.