3 vying to be Washougal’s next mayor

Voters will decide Aug. 3 who moves on to general election in November

Derik Ford

Paul Greenlee

Rochelle Ramos

Though Camas-Washougal voters will decide most local elections in the November 2021 general elections, there are still three local races — for Washougal’s next mayor and two Camas City Council seats — that need to have their candidate pool whittled down during the August primary election.

Ballots for the Aug. 3, 2021 Primary and Special Election will be mailed to Camas-Washougal voters by July 21.

Voters who live in Washougal or are within the Camas’ Ward 1, Position 2 or Ward 3, Position 2 areas will receive primary ballots.

The Post-Record will publish information about the eight candidates running for the Ward 1, Position 2 and Ward 3, Position 2 Camas City Council seats later this month.

For more information, visit clark.wa.gov/elections/august-3-2021-primary-special-election.

Following is more information about the three candidates vying to be Washougal’s next mayor:

Derik Ford: Local business owner says he wants to ‘see good things happen in Washougal’

Derik Ford isn’t afraid to take chances and try new things.

He did so in 2018 when he opened a restaurant in downtown Washougal in 2018. He did so in 2020 when he decided to become a career and technical education (CTE) teacher. And he did so earlier this year when he announced his candidacy for Washougal’s mayor position.

“I don’t make it too difficult,” Ford said. “I’m not sitting here trying to be a politician. I’m not. But I want to see good things happen in Washougal. It’s going to be a learning process; I have no doubt about that. I’m not going to sit here and say that I know exactly what’s going to go on, because you never know, as a business owner or anything else in life, until you get in there and start doing it. But I have a fresh perspective as a business owner here in Washougal.”

Ford and his wife, Michelle, have owned and operated 2 Rivers Bar & Grill in Washougal for the past three years. He also works as a franchisee for Massage Envy, a national massage and skin care corporation.

“I feel that I have a little bit more of a unique background than a lot of people that (are) on the city council,” Ford said. “I’m very business-driven, and I just want to help promote some activity out here if I can in some way. And I have an ability to listen. I’m here (at 2 Rivers), so I listen to people a lot. Being out in front of people, talking, being a leader, establishing a clear direction, are not issues for me. That’s what I’ve been doing for the last 15 years.”

Ford grew up in the Coos Bay, Oregon, area, graduated from North Bend (Oregon) High School, and attended Southwestern Oregon College in Coos Bay, College of the Redwoods in Eureka, California, Portland State University in Portland and Eastern Washington University in Cheney, Washington.

He’s currently working toward attaining CTE teaching credentials and hopes to join Camas High School’s staff as soon as a position becomes available.

“I don’t want to (teach) full-time, but if there was a business class for half the day, I’d definitely apply,” he said. “I’ve spoken in front of high school kids and college business classes before, and I like it. I like sharing a little bit of real-world knowledge with people and letting them bounce things off me.”

Paul Greenlee: Longtime Washougal City Council member has been working to improve Washougal since 2005

In 2005, Paul Greenlee wrote a letter to then-Washougal mayor Stacy Sellers that said, “I’m retired. I’m a little bored. What can I do for my city?”

Sellers appointed Greenlee to a steering committee to promote the passage of a $7.5 million bond that would have paid for a library, recreation center, senior center and city hall upgrades. Greenlee said he worked tirelessly for months, knocking on more than 1,000 doors and standing on street corners waving signs to raise awareness for the bond.

“We needed 60 percent (to pass). We got about 48,” Greenlee said. “But that (effort) kind of put me on the map.”

Soon, Greenlee was appointed to the Washougal Planning Commission, and, in April 2007, to fill an empty seat on the Washougal City Council.

Now, the longtime Washougal resident wants to take his public service to the next level by being voted in as Washougal’s next mayor.

“I’ve been on council now for 14 years, and I’ve learned a lot,” Greenlee said. “Sometime in my late teens or early 20s I joined an organization, and we took a pledge to pass on to those who follow (something) greater than was given to us. I pretty much always tried to do that, and this is another opportunity.”

As a longtime councilmember running against two political newcomers, Greenlee said he would bring a sense of familiarity to the role, which has been held by Molly Coston since 2018.

“This is the best council that I’ve served on,” Greenlee said. “That was true four years ago and it’s even better today. If I look around Clark County, I think we probably have the most functional council — not only internally, but also with its relationship with city staff — with the possible exception of Ridgefield, which comes close. I have a great relationship with our staff, in part because I have always been very positive about them. Almost everyone carries their end of the stick and does so exceedingly well. I’ve always had that point of view about the city staff, and they know it, so we like each other.”

A self-described “nerd” and “wonk” who enjoys “sitting (his) butt down in a chair and learning stuff,” Greenlee studied economics, mechanical engineering and American history at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

During his professional career, he served in a variety of roles, including machinist, computer programmer and administrator, staff member for the governor of Puerto Rico, radio station sales and operations director, loan officer, mortgage broker, realtor and foundation trustee.

He currently serves as the vice chair of the Anderson Foundation, which makes grants to public service agencies and programs in Chemung County, New York; founder and chair of the Unite! Washougal Foundation; board member for the Columbia River Economic Development and Southwest Washington Regional Transportation councils; and vice chair for the Lower Columbia Fish Recovery Board.

Rochelle Ramos: Lunchmoney Skatepark co-founder, human resources director has long history of volunteering for Washougal nonprofits

Rochelle Ramos wanted to get to know her new community better after moving to Washougal 15 years ago, so she donated her limited free time whenever and wherever she could.

Her first volunteer gig was cleaning the West Columbia Gorge Humane Society’s cat shelter, where her then-1-year-old daughter would sit close by, watching her mother work.

The cleaning work eventually led to a board position with the Washougal animal shelter and other volunteer opportunities followed.

“I saw (volunteering) as a way of, ‘I live here, I can do something, I can give back,'” Ramos said. “As I moved in my career, I continued to give back, and as I built my career and my education and grew older, I got more experience and saw more areas where I could give back. My volunteerism has always been a way of caring about my city, about giving back, about seeing opportunities that can be improved or (how) I could contribute to making them improved.”

This drive to give back to her community is what prompted Ramos to enter the 2021 Washougal mayoral race.

“Our city government should be a caring government and listen to our community. I’ve mirrored that with my efforts and my desire for a safe, vibrant active community, and decided to step that up to the next level and run for mayor,” she explained.

Washougal resident Dave Pinkernell has known Ramos for nearly a decade through their work with the Camas-Washougal Community Chest, which annually grants tens of thousands of dollars to local Camas-Washougal nonprofits and educational groups that assist lower-income families.

Pinkernell said Ramos is driven to help the Washougal community.

“I am constantly amazed at all the volunteer work Rochelle does on top of her very busy professional life and personal life,” said Pinkernell. “Rochelle sees a community need and finds the time and resources to solve it. A great example is the Lunchmoney Indoor Skatepark, which provides a safe place for local kids to skate. I believe Rochelle’s initiative to see community needs, plus her energy and creativity to solve them, will make her a good mayor for Washougal.”

Ramos co-owns and operates Lunchmoney Indoor Skatepark, a Washougal-based nonprofit organization, and works as a human resources director with PLEXSYS Interface Products, a Camas-based software company.

She earned her bachelor of science degree in business administration from Eastern Oregon University in La Grande, Oregon, and a master’s degree in human resource management from Golden Gate University in San Francisco.

“I have a lot of experience in problem-solving, finding solutions and working through different scenarios, which I think translates a lot over to a city atmosphere,” she said. “I also listen to people. That comes from my (human resources) world. I have compassion and empathy for people, I like to hear their stories and offer solutions.”

Ramos has been a member of Washougal’s parks board since 2018 and served on the board of directors for the Camas-Washougal Community Chest for several years. Earlier this year, the city of Washougal honored Ramos with its 2020 Hometown Heroes’ Community Initiative Award.

“Having lived here for so long, having kids who have gone through the Washougal School District, starting Lunchmoney, I talk to people, and people know me,” Ramos said. “I have a lot of recognition already. This isn’t something that I just started doing in the past six months. I’ve been a volunteer in the community for over 12 years. It is me. It’s who I am. I think that speaks for itself, too.”