Brent Boger is leaving the Washougal City Council earlier than expected.
Boger, who announced last year that he wasn’t going to seek re-election in November, told city officials in January he plans to resign from his position on March 31.
Boger said he also plans to retire from his job as an assistant city attorney for the city of Vancouver and move to Ecuador later this year.
“I could be out of the area as soon as May, or it could be as late as December. It’s just kind of up in the air,” Boger said. “There’s a lot of prep work and things that I need to do (to prepare for the move). I just need to take some things off my plate.”
Boger is looking forward to “getting involved in the Ecuadorian community.”
“I speak some Spanish,” said Boger, an extensive traveler who has visited 45 countries, including Ecuador. “I’ve focused on a city called Cuenca, which kind of has a European feel to it. It’s very inexpensive. There are a lot of American expats that live there, and having an expat American network is something that I think would be useful when you go to a foreign country like that. The other thing about Cuenca is it’s basically 70 degrees year-round. It’s 7,500 feet high, so you don’t get the coastal heat there.”
Boger was appointed to the city of Washougal’s No. 1 council position on July 2, 2012, and re-elected without opposition in 2013 and 2017.
“He contributed greatly to the city,” Washougal Councilman Paul Greenlee said. “He brought a perspective to the council that I would not have otherwise had access to, and that’s a good thing. He’s an attorney, and if there’s one thing they teach you in law school, it’s to take a position and hold it regardless of your own feelings. He’s good at taking a point of view that he decides needs to be advanced, even if he might not (personally agree with it).”
Washougal Mayor Molly Coston said Boger’s resignation is “a loss for the city as a whole.”
“I’ll definitely miss him for sure,” Coston said. “He has a background as an attorney with finance and land-use, so for those issues, he was our go-to person. If I wanted a sounding board or an opinion about something, he would be the person to call on. We didn’t always see eye-to-eye, but I always listened to what he had to say and always learned something from him that changed my point of view. He’s an extraordinary person, with a code of ethics that runs very deep.”
Boger has worked for the city of Vancouver since 1999, specializing in finance, land-use, real estate, railroad law, open government law and litigation. He has also represented businesses and individuals in private practice litigation.
“(My time on the council) was mixed,” Boger said. “It was positive in the sense that I think my experience in municipal government for most of my legal career came in handy. Sometimes, I perhaps stepped out of my proper role: I’m a city councilman, and I’m not acting as a lawyer for the city of Washougal. But it worked out, and I was pretty careful about not stepping in the way of what they wanted to do, at least publicly.”
Even though he’s a lifelong Republican (he served as the chairman of the Clark County Republican Party from December 2002 to April 2006), Boger views himself as a “classical liberal — a person that believes that government should not be large, is not efficient, and that there are always intended consequences of what it does.”
As a result, some of his views surprised people from time to time. He recalled a conversation with a work colleague, who said to him, “Brent, are you really a Republican? You support retail marijuana in Washougal, you’re against oil trains and you didn’t want prayer at council meetings. That doesn’t sound like a Republican to me.”
“I kind of just called things the way I saw them,” Boger said. “Sometimes my (views) came out in positions that would be considered liberal. Being an activist in the Republican party, I think (the people who appointed me to the council in 2012) could look at me as conservative, yet (because of my) my work in Vancouver, the liberals kind of knew I had this streak in me that sometimes deviated from the conservative line.”
Looking ahead, Boger said he expects “great things” from the city of Washougal.
“The deep divisions in the council have more or less disappeared,” he said. “There were jokes made about, ‘What’s in the water in Washougal that makes your city council so divided and pugnacious?’ That’s gone. As far as the city — with where it’s located and its potential with its physical setting — it’s going to take off, and I don’t think it’s very far away. When the pandemic is over, it’s going to take off.”
Washougal City Manager David Scott said the city will advertise for the open council position. The person appointed by the Council to fill Boger’s seat will serve until November, when the position’s term expires.
“We’re grateful to councilmember Boger, not only for his service, but also for giving us good lead time,” Scott added. “That’s much appreciated as it helps us to plan.”
The person elected to the No. 1 position in November will be sworn in as the city’s mayor immediately upon certification of the results.
“That person doesn’t become the mayor. They’re a councilmember,” Scott said. “That appointed individual serves until the person elected to mayor in November takes office in late November. That person who’s appointed could choose to run for mayor, certainly. Or they could choose for another council position on the 2021 ballot. Or that person could choose to serve as a placeholder for the remainder of the time until late November 2021 when the person elected as mayor would take the seat.”