Write-in candidate wins Camas mayoral race

Barry McDonnell has 53 percent of the votes, will replace Shannon Turk as mayor

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Barry McDonnell, a write-in candidate for Camas mayor, talks to voters at a Camas Youth Council candidate forum in October. McDonnell, who entered the mayoral race in early October, has beaten Mayor Shannon Turk with 53 percent of the vote.

One of two last-minute write-in candidates has won the Camas mayoral race. 

As of today’s vote count, write-in candidate Barry McDonnell had garnered 53 percent of the votes to Camas Mayor Shannon Turk’s 41 percent and write-in candidate and current Camas City Councilwoman Melissa Smith’s 6 percent. 

McDonnell had not returned calls from the Post-Record for comment in time for this article’s publication. 

Turk said she was feeling a little relieved after a heated election season. 

“Actually, I am looking forward to having more free time,” Turk said. “I’m more than a little relieved because people were not able to disagree civilly.” 

Turk, who was first appointed to the city council in 2011 and then appointed by her council peers to replace former Mayor Scott Higgins in early 2018, said she didn’t recognize the Camas community she moved into 20 years ago. 

“People were telling me to move out of town and, after I said I didn’t look at social media anymore, sending me hard copies and emails (showing the negative online comments) that they knew I’d get,” Turk said. “It was a difficult election because of the way it got personal.” 

Turk said she was feeling OK though, and that she never regretted putting a bond proposition to voters to see if they wanted to fund a community-aquatics center despite the fact that voters shot down the bond measure 90 to 10 percent and used the measure to question Turk’s leadership abilities. 

“I am proud of the work that I’ve done since being appointed to the council in 2011, and I wish Mr. McDonnell well. He’s got a great staff at the city to rely upon and Camas will move forward,” Turk said.

McDonnell, a father of four who moved to Camas in 2016, said that by the time he felt called to local politics, it was far too late to enter the Camas mayoral race as anything other than a write-in candidate. 

“It was really in September of this year that I decided (to run),” McDonnell recently told the Post-Record. 

The Camas City Council’s mid-July decision to put a community-aquatics center bond proposition on the Nov. 5 general election ballot was the issue that made McDonnell first take note of his new city’s locally elected officials. 

“I was really frustrated that there weren’t other candidates other than the appointed mayor, McDonnell said. “Towards the end of September, I decided, ‘Maybe it’s me.’ And, on Oct. 2, I made the decision (to run as a write-in mayoral candidate).” 

McDonnell launched a GoFundMe campaign that raised close to $5,000 and was active in trying to get his name out to Camas voters: sending mailers, putting out yard signs, answering questions on social media sites like NextDoor, establishing a website and even starting a podcast to talk about himself and his family, which includes wife, Anastasia, and the couple’s four children, ages 2 to 13.

Both McDonnell and Smith said they saw what seemed to be a disconnect between the mayor and citizens. 

“People love Camas the way that it is,” McDonnell told the Post-Record in October. “From my standpoint, it doesn’t feel like a citizen-driven future. I would like to change that so we can have more dialogue when putting future plans together.”