Washougal voters say ‘yes’ to voting for mayor, renewing levy lid lift

Preliminary results show city's ballot propositions 9 and 10 passing by comfortable margins

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Washougal Mayor Molly Coston (left) attends a Nov. 13, 2018 Washougal City Council meeting. (Post-Record file photo)

The majority of Washougal voters say they would like to directly elect the city’s mayor. 

Proposition 9, which asked voters to decide if they’d prefer to elect Washougal’s mayor every four years — versus having the mayor be appointed by city council members — was passing with 55.6 percent of the votes, according to preliminary election results released by the Clark County Elections Office at 8:13 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 3. 

“I’m not surprised (with the result),” Washougal Mayor Molly Coston said. “It’s the more transparent way to go to have the community elect the mayor. Both (scenarios) — election by the council or election by the community — have their positive points, and I can’t say there’s right or wrong here.  But I’m very pleased with the way it turned out.”

Assuming the Proposition 9 result holds, council position No. 1 will be designated as the mayor and will be elected at-large to a four-year term beginning with the November 2021 election. Currently, Washougal’s mayor is chosen from the councilors, by the councilors, every two years, a process resulting from a 2018 proposition that changed the city’s form of government from a “strong mayor” system to a “council-manager” format.

The resolution that placed the change-of-government option on the ballot in 2018 contained a provision stating the council’s intention to bring the mayoral vote issue to voters in the future if they approved the council-manager form of government.

Proposition 10 also passing 

Washougal voters also have also approved the city’s Proposition 10, which asked voters to renew a six-year levy “lid lift” to maintain the city’s fire, emergency medical and ambulance services at a cost of 10 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value. 

According to preliminary results, Proposition 10 is passing with 65.7 percent of votes.

Proposition 10’s 10-cent lid lift would bring the city $239,000 and institute a $1-per-month increase to the owner of a $400,000 home, City Manager David Scott said during a July 13 virtual workshop session.

In 2014, Washougal voters approved a “lid lift” to maintain the city’s fire, emergency medical and ambulance services at a cost of 10 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value. That levy, which garnered more than 58 percent of the votes, is set to expire at the end of 2020.

“The community has always supported emergency fire and medical services, and I think it’s shown itself to do that again,” Coston said. “Ten cents does not cover the (entire) cost of  the service, however, and that is going to be a real challenge for us as we move forward. I don’t think we can ask the voters to foot the bill for the entire thing. We’ll have to make some decisions about how to make that happen.”

Earlier this year, Scott said that if Proposition 10 doesn’t pass, the city could potentially have to make cuts which could threaten the agreement with the city of Camas that facilitates the fire department.

Both propositions needed a simple majority to pass.