Of the 52 candidates vying for a position on the first Clark County Home Rule Charter Review Commission, 10 are from Camas-Washougal.
After three failed attempts (in 1982, 1997 and 2002), the Home Rule Charter won voter approval in November 2014, changing the county’s form of government from a three-member commission to a five-member council plus county manager and giving county voters the ability to propose initiatives and referendum on the ballot.
The new charter contained a provision that a 15-member, nonpartisan charter review commission would form five years after its adoption to review how the county’s new form of government is working — and coming up with ideas for what might need to change.
Lindsey Shafar, senior policy analyst in the county manager’s office, told the League of Women Voters of Clark County at a May committee meeting that the new review commission will decide if the 5-year-old Home Rule Charter is meeting the needs of Clark County residents.
“This charter review commission is really going to set the path for what future charter review commissions are going to look like,” Shafer told the League of Women Voters. “So it’s very open ended … if they just want to rip the whole charter to shreds and start over, they can.”
The review commission will include three members from each of the county’s four districts and three “at-large” members.
Voters will decide the makeup of the new review commission in the November 2020 general election. The candidates will not compete in the August primary election.
The commission is expected to last one year, or until the commissioners have completed their work. Any of the commissioners’ proposed amendments to the Home Rule Charter would need to garner voter approval in the 2021 general election.
The candidates from Camas-Washougal include current and former city councilors as well as a former state legislator. Following is more information about the local candidates running for the charter review commission.
Greg Anderson (District 4, Position 3)
Anderson, a Camas City Council member since 1997, said he would not bring any preconceived visions to the table, if elected to the charter review commission — but does believe voters need to have more information about the charter and the county’s form of government.
“When this was up for discussion five, six years ago, there was a huge amount of education for voters,” Anderson, 65, said. “Since then, we’ve gained in population and probably 15 percent of (county voters) weren’t here when this was first discussed, so that education process will have to continue.”
Anderson, a former United States Army officer who recently retired from his career as a warehouse operations manager, said he would like to help voters in East Clark County better understand the history of the county home rule charter and be a part of the discussion about how that charter is impacting county residents.
He added that his decades of experience in local government and experience working as a Camas voice on regional groups such as the C-TRAN Board of Directors (Annderson is in his second term on the C-TRAN Board and also served from 2015 to 2017.)
“I recognize that government moves slowly,” Anderson said. “I recognize it takes time to work through the layers of topics that are brought forward. And I think I take a regional view and have a good idea of how the community works as a whole.”
Anderson said his new life as a retired person gives him ample time to dedicate to both the Camas City Council and the charter review commission.
“I have infinite more time now than I’ve ever had,” Anderson said. “(The commission) is just something that I want to contribute to. I want to help in any way I can … but I don’t have any preset outcomes I want to achieve. I’m more of a process-oriented kind of guy.”
Anderson lives in Camas with his wife of 33 years, Colete Anderson. The couple has two grown daughters and one grandchild.
Anderson added that he had hoped the commission race in November would be truly nonpartisan.
“It is a wish,” he said of the race avoiding partisan politics, “but I don’t know that it’s going to happen.”
Jeff Angelo (District 3, Position 3)
Angelo, 40, is the executive director of Without Limits NW, a group that supports adults with disabilities throughout Oregon.
He also serves as president to two regional groups: the Evergreen School District Foundation, as well as the Arc of Southwest Washington, a nonprofit that, according to its mission statement, “promotes and protects the human rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and actively supports their full inclusion and participation in the community throughout their lifetimes.”
He lives in Camas with his wife, Noelle Angelo, and their son, Tyler, 16. Angelo’s 22-year-old stepdaughter, Ravenne Herron, lives in Silverton, Oregon.
A self-described moderate Democrat, Angelo said he tries to find common ground in his work and politics.
“There are those hardcore people, fringe elements, who can’t see eye to eye with anyone,” Angelo said. “I’m serious about things … but at the end of day, I think we all have the same goal in mind. It’s just a matter of getting there that’s different.”
When a friend asked him if he’d considered running for the county charter review commission, Angelo’s original answer was, “No.”
“I looked at some of the people running right now and there are people I absolutely trust,” Angelo said. “Then it came down to my race and there were two names I didn’t know at all. I wondered, ‘Is this something I should be doing?’”
The answer this time was, “Yes.”
Angelo said one of the strongest traits he would bring to the table if elected in November to the commission is the fact that he doesn’t have an agenda.
“This was supposed to be a nonpartisan position,” Angelo said. “Can it be nonpartisan? There are certain names on that list I believe cannot be nonpartisan. I want to remain without an agenda.”
That said, there are issues surrounding the home rule charter that pique Angelo’s interest, including the reasoning behind some of the county’s partisan staff positions.
Angelo said he recently had “a great talk” with former Camas mayor Nan Henriksen, who was an instrumental in educating the community about the home rule charter in 2014.
“When I talked to Nan, the word ‘pragmatic’ came up a lot. How can we make things more efficient? That’s what I’ve been eyeballing a little bit,” Angelo said. “The tough part about this is that, after this, we don’t review the charter again for 10 years. So we have to tighten the bolts now.”
Brent Boger (District 4, Position 2)
Boger has lived in Washougal for more than 18 years and in Clark County for 21 years, and has been a member of the Washougal City Council since 2012.
He also has been involved with the Camas-Washougal Rotary Club and served on several non-profit boards primarily related to health care and the protection of the elderly.
“I helped a couple freeholders with their duties while the charter was being drafted,” Boger said. “I wrote two versions of it — one for an elected county executive and another for an appointed county manager. Some of what I wrote made it into the charter.”
Boger said that he believes the charter has structural problems that he would work to eliminate.
“I like the increase from three commissioners to five councilors,” he said. “(But) the problem is that they blended the two forms of government to the point where the appointed manager has powers that should be reserved for an elected executive. I’ve studied forms of government extensively, and I know of no other charter like this. It isn’t a good idea. … I don’t like the restrictions the charter places on councilors to serve their constituents by making direct inquiries of staff. This goes well beyond what is typically allowed in council-manager forms of government.”
Boger has worked as a municipal legal professional for most of his career. Currently, he serves as an attorney for the city of Vancouver.
“Most recently, I provided the legal staffing for the city of Vancouver’s charter review,” he said. “As a city councilor, I’ve been through much of Washougal’s recent change from strong mayor to council-manager form of government. Early in my legal career, I drafted a number of implementing ordinances for a large city in California that changed its form of government from council-manager to strong mayor.”
Parker Davidson (District 3, Position 2)
The 20-year-old Davidson is the second youngest candidate running for the charter review commission.
Born in Vancouver and raised in Camas, Davidson earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from Seattle University and has worked with several organizations devoted to passing progressive legislation, as well as with local Democratic candidates, including Washougal School Board member Donna Sinclair, who is currently running as a Democrat hoping to unseat Rep. Larry Hoff in Washington’s 18th Legislative District.
“I’ve also always made an effort to work with the community,” Davidson said.
Most recently, he has been active in the Black Lives Matter movement in Camas and Vancouver.
When it comes to the charter review commission, Davidson said he wants to ensure that the county charter remains equitable for all county residents.
“There are some issues I’d like to protect (within the charter),” Davidson said. “I’ve heard that some people want to decrease seats on the council. If anything, we probably need to have more representation on the council. I am for increasing the number of seats from five to seven. And I absolutely would like to see more representation in East Clark County.”
Davidson said he sees much of what is happening in county politics being controlled by interests from west Vancouver.
“So it’s not just people from Camas-Washougal, but also from Battle Ground and Amboy that don’t have as much representation (at the county level) right now,” Davidson said. “These places have very different issues than west Vancouver and deserve representation.”
Davidson also supports strengthening the charter’s initiative and referendum process for county voters.
“The process is not enough,” he said. “People have the power of initiative but there are barriers, including how many people need to sign (for the initiative to get onto the ballot). That’s a problem for rural areas with lower populations and that’s incredibly concerning.”
Davidson said he has grown up in Clark County and watched as the country grew rapidly over the past decade.
“I would provide a fresh perspective,” Davidson said. “We need younger voices in politics right now, especially because how the county is going to be shaping up over the next 20 to 30 years will very much affect (young people’s) lives.”
Davidson, who lives in Camas, has three younger siblings who attend Camas and Union school district schools and one older sibling who lives in Bellingham, Washington. He said he plans to study constitutional law, but sees himself living in Clark County in the future and, hopefully, having an impact on local politics.
“This is my home and I’d like to see the county maintain the progress its made (over the past few years),” Davidson said.
He encourages people to read about the county charter and to make an informed decision in the November general election.
Glenn Kincaid (District 4, Position 2)
Kincaid refused to comment for this story “because (the Post-Record) has recently printed negative stories involving” him.
“I’m not replying to your questions at all,” he said. “You’re just as bad as The Columbian is. Always left. I will win without your help.”
Kincaid owns Washougal-based Glenn Kincaid Construction, which provides industrial concrete services.
John Latta (District 4, Position 2)
Latta moved to Washougal from the Tri-Cities in 2015 after retiring from his engineering career. Along with his wife Mimi, he’s been involved in voter education and outreach efforts, working with organizations such as the Washougal Senior Association and League of Women Voters.
“I am a (military) veteran and recently retired professional engineer with years of experience in operation, maintenance and management,” he said. “As an engineering supervisor for engineers with various disciplines and backgrounds, I wrote and reviewed technical procedures, administrative rules and practices, and often facilitated solutions to complicated problems in diverse team settings.”
He said that he’s running for a commission seat because he “believes in citizen oversight of government.”
“Our charter is the foremost document defining our county government, approved by voters to provide better government representation for local citizens. I want to keep it that way,” he said. “The charter shouldn’t be revised casually or for special interests, as it belongs to all the citizens of our county. Serving on a U.S. Navy submarine during a time of conflict impressed on me the debt I owe our nation. Working on the commission is my way to contribute.”
Latta said that he would advocate for the creation of a preamble that would “continually remind us of (the charter’s) purpose.”
“I like that our home rule charter was created to make the county government more representative of its citizens,” he said. “I want to keep that purpose in mind when considering changes or improvements to the charter. Other changes are needed to clarify or add necessary details, such as how an unexpected vacancy of a county council seat would be handled.”
Charles “Chuck” Miller (District 4, Position 1)
Miller, president of the conservative Washington Citizens for Responsible Government group, did not return the Post-Record’s request for comment.
A resident of Camas, Miller donated heavily to the “Don’t Lose Your Voice” political action committee that fought the Home Rule Charter form of government in 2014.
According to an article written by the Post-Record’s sister paper, The Columbian, in September 2014, most of the money flowing into the PAC came from Miller, “a Republican activist who’s previously fought against same-sex marriage and illegal immigration.”
Liz Pike (District 4, Position 3)
Pike is a former Camas city councilwoman and three-term Republican state legislator who now operates an organic farm, Shangri-La Farm, north of Camas in Fern Prairie, and often shows her paintings at Camas-area galleries.
Pike said she is running for the charter review commission to “represent the conservative voice” of residents living in the county’s District 4.
An original member of the Clark County Charter freeholders, Pike said she voted against the final charter as a freeholder and again as a voter in 2014.
“The charter puts too large of a firewall between the citizens and the county bureaucracy and (gives) too much power to an unelected county manager,” Pike told the Post-Record. “Today, with the charter as written, (members of the Clark County Council) are not permitted to go directly to county agencies to get answers and much needed help for citizens who are suffering at the hands of overzealous bureaucrats. That’s wrong.”
Asked what she might bring to the table if elected to the commission in November, Pike said she would “provide intelligent, thoughtful and reasonable input with honesty and civility.”
“I’ll put rights of citizens ahead of government bureaucracy to improve our county’s charter for the benefit of the people,” she added. “Citizens deserve an efficient county government that’s responsive and helpful. This is not the case today within every county department. That must change.”
Pike said she would rely on her 40 years’ worth of business experience as well as the knowledge gained during her three terms as a Washington state legislator to “deliver effective, proven leadership to improve our county charter.”
“There’s no one who’ll work harder for the citizens in the process,” Pike said.
For more information about the Home Rule Charter, visit clark.wa.gov/councilors/clark-county-home-rule-charter.
Rainy Rau (Countywide, Position 1)
Rau has worked with several area school districts as an education/resource interpreter for the past 13 years, and has been a member of the Citizens Advisory Committee for the Camas School District for the past three years. This fall she will begin serving as a volunteer board member for the Camas Education Foundation.
“I decided to run for the county charter review commission after reading an article about the filing deadline that was approaching,” she said. “I then read our charter and knew that I wanted to be a part of the conversation during the review process. Ultimately, I want to be of service to our community. I have been so lucky to find this place as home, and it is time to give back.”
Rau said that charter commissioners should be “forward thinking” because of the fact that the next scheduled review of the charter is a decade away.
“I think the importance of this first review after the first five years of working with the charter can’t be underestimated,” she said. “This is the perfect time to work as a team of 15 community members, representing the wide array of interests of Clark County, and to really drill down on what works for us all. I know that in the 12 years since I moved to the area, so much of Clark County has changed. We need to be forward thinking and not just focus on what works for Clark County today but what will work for who we will become.”
Rau said that although some people might not agree with her viewpoints, she is skilled at listening and problem-solving, qualities that would serve her well on the commission.
“I have a public servant heart, and this seems like a good way to get involved during this first revisiting of the charter,” she said. “I also enjoy working with a group and finding ways to improve current practices. The point of public service should not be to further personal belief or possible gains, but to see the community as it is and predict where it is heading and serve as best you can to that end.”
Deanna Rusch (District 4, Position 1)
A family law attorney and former Camas City Council member, Rushch is active in several Camas-area community organizations, including the 100+ Women Who Care fundraising group, the Downtown Camas Association Board of Directors, the Camas-Washougal Community Chest Board of Directors and the West Columbia Gorge Humane Society Board of Directors.
“You’d think I’d just take a seat and calm down,” Rusch said, laughing at her long list of community activism. “But it’s fun for me to volunteer.”
That same sense of community involvement is what led her to submit her name for the county charter review commission.
“I consider myself fairly moderate and even-tempered, but I am passionate about things that could possibly benefit our community — and about preventing things from harming our community,” Rusch said. “The county charter has gone a long way toward benefitting our community.”
Rusch pointed to the charter’s expansion of the county council from three commissioner positions to the current five council seats, and said she felt the move expanded representation in areas like Camas-Washougal and more rural parts of Clark County.
“The county sets policies that affect all of us,” Rusch said. “The county is the umbrella and it trickles down to the cities. So we need to be watchful and mindful in places like Camas-Washougal about what’s happening at the county level.”
Rusch said she believes her training as a family law attorney and former city councilor would help her add a reasonable voice to the charter review commission.
“I’m a relationship builder and believe in making decisions based on what will help the most people versus what will hurt the most people,” she said. “I’m a lawyer trained in conflict resolution … so whether things (on the commission) are heated or not, I will focus on finding resolutions, critical thinking and compromise.”
Rusch said she was pleased to see so many people she knows to be folks who care for the best needs of the community running for a local position that likely won’t receive too much attention during a presidential election year.
“There are a lot of good people running … a lot of people who are in it to find resolutions and be problem-solvers. People who care,” Rusch said. “And (the charter review) is kind of a dry topic. It’s not something that has a lot of bells and whistles, so I was really happy to see some of the (people running for the commission).”