Camas, Meet Your Candidates: 8 vying for 2 council seats in Aug. 3 primary

Top two vote-getters from each race will move on to November general election

Camas City Council, Ward 1, Position 2 candidate Marilyn Dale-Boerke

Shawn is running for Camas City Council, Ward 1, Position 2. (Contributed photo)

Geoerl is running for Camas City Council, Ward 1, Position 2. (Contributed photo)

Camas City Council, Ward 1, Position 2 candidate Gary Perman

Alicia King is running for Camas City Council, Ward 3, Position 2. (Contributed photo)

Camas City Council, Ward 3, Position 2 candidate Leslie Lewallen

Camas City Council, Ward 3, Position 2 candidate Jennifer McDaniel

John Svilarich is running for Camas City Council, Ward 3, Position 2. (Contributed photo)

Voters in Camas will decide the fate of two of three open city council seats in the upcoming Aug. 3 primary election.

Though the city has three council seats and its mayoral position headed to the November general election, only two of those races — for city council members’ Melissa Smith and Ellen Burton’s respective Ward 1, Position 2 and Ward 3, Position 2 seats — garnered enough candidate interest to warrant a primary run-off election.

WARD 1, POSITION 2 RACE

Camas Councilwoman Melissa Smith, who was appointed to the council in 2004, elected to her first term in 2005 and lost a write-in mayoral bid in 2019, is not running for reelection in 2021.

Instead, four candidates — Marilyn Dale-Boerke, Shawn High, Geoerl W. Niles and Gary Perman — are on the Aug. 3 primary ballot, competing for Smith’s Ward 1, Position 2 council seat. The top two vote-getters in each race will move on to the November general election.

Marilyn Dale-Boerke: Asked in early July, during a League of Women Voters of Clark County candidate forum what skills and abilities she might bring to the table if elected to the Camas City Council, Dale-Boerke, a 35-year resident of Camas and current head of human resources at the Camas School District, highlighted her desire to listen to her would-be constituents and bring people together to tackle some of the big issues facing the city right now.

“What can we collectively do to solve (problems)?” Dale-Boerke asked. “People are angrier than they have been, or at least than they’ve been willing to show … and we’re at a pivotal point in our city and nation. So, how do we harvest our collective energy?”

If elected, Dale-Boerke said she would want to be more inclusive in the city’s public outreach to its citizens.

“I think we rely a lot on surveys,” she said of the city’s current outreach efforts. “If you’re in the know, you can take the survey. If you’re not, you cannot.”

Dale-Boerke would like to reach out to a broader swath of Camas residents, hitting not only those who follow local politics online and those who frequent the city’s historic downtown, but also people who may not be as connected to things Camas officials are planning.

Having learned from her leadership role with the school district that many Camasonians might be more willing or tuned in if city leaders went to the people instead of having the people come to them, Dale-Boerke suggested hosting listening posts at local elementary or middle schools, where even people who did not have children in the school district could “know how to get there and walk there if they have to, if they don’t have transportation,” she said.

“We could have listening posts for people to come together, to ask ‘How are we doing?’ ‘What can we do?’ and ‘Do we need to change?'” she said, “We need to be talking to people instead of saying, ‘Let’s do this and let’s do that.’ … To do great work, the council needs to be a viable, living, breathing organism with outreach to its citizens that creates a dialogue.”

Dale-Boerke also said she believes preserving Camas’ environment “is critical,” and that the city leaders must make cleaning the waters of Lacamas Lake a priority. She also noted she is a strong supporter of more Camasonians having knowledge of and access to the city’s multitude of parks, trails and open spaces.

“We have a lot of trails, but it’s a well-kept secret,” Dale-Boerke said. “I can’t be the only person who is unaware that we have 22 miles of trails in Camas. So, how do we let citizens know where those trails are? How well are they marked? Do people know how to get to the trails? Communicating is important.”

The youngest of three children, Dale-Boerke said she has always had “a desire to serve” others. She started her career as a school secretary before realizing she could have a bigger impact on helping others as a teacher, and then as an administrator.

“As an administrator, I could make a difference by asking, ‘Who needs help?'” Dale-Boerke said.

That trait would carry over if elected to the city council, she noted, where she would be dedicated to helping the area’s seniors, youth and other Camas residents who don’t always have a strong voice in local politics.

“I assume people want to do well, want to do good,” Dale-Boerke said. “That’s what drives me. I believe people will do good things given the information. That’s why I’m running for city council. … I am a servant-leader. These things are important to me.”

Dale-Boerke and her husband have lived in Camas for three decades and raised three children in the city.

Shawn High: A former Camas Library Board trustee and current member of the city’s planning commission, High and his wife moved to Camas from the Seattle area in 1997 and “fell in love with the place.”

“I’m here for the long haul,” High, a flight attendant for Horizon Air, co-owner of High Expectations dog training in Camas and the father of a 10-year-old daughter who attends Prune Hill Elementary School, said of the city he’s called home for nearly 25 years. “Camas is awesome. Let’s keep it awesome by getting more citizen input, more people involved.”

Like many Camas residents who have found themselves drawn to local politics, High’s community volunteer work stemmed from an interaction he had with Camas city staff. What set him apart was the fact that it was the staff members’ helpfulness and willingness to assist an average citizen with his many questions about permits and requirements while restoring his 1926 Craftsman home and then again when he and his wife were opening their dog-training business — not the classic gripe against government bureaucracy many politicians cite as their impetus to get into local races — that convinced High he wanted to play a bigger part in the government decisions that shape Camas and dictate the city’s future.

“The staff gave me so many ideas. They were really helpful and encouraging,” High said. “I felt like I was a part of the team … like they were on my side. I felt like the city of Camas had a winning team and I wanted to be a part of that.”

An avid reader and supporter of the Camas Public Library, High gravitated toward an open position on the library’s board of trustees and served two four-year terms. In 2018, he became a member of the Camas Planning Commission, where he hoped to make even more of a difference in Camas’ future.

“One of my biggest topics is affordable housing,” High said.

When the planning commission tackled the city’s Housing Action Plan during High’s first meeting as a commissioner, he said he felt like he was meant to be there.

“I want to see Camas be a well-rounded town. It’s important for Camas to be that way,” High said. “But (around) 95 percent of what we’ve been building is 3,000- to 5,000-square-foot houses. Our teachers, firefighters, and city staff can’t afford to live here or even get an apartment here.”

If elected to the city council, High would use the tools the planning commission sent on to the council in the city’s recently approved affordable housing action plan to help diversify housing and push for what he believes are simple solutions to the city’s affordable housing dilemma, such as adjusting the scale for development charges so that a developer who builds a development filled with 4,500-square-foot homes is not paying just a tiny bit more in development charges than a builder who creates a development with smaller, more affordable homes.

“I would want to keep it simple and come up with a much more fair scale to incentivize (smaller, more affordable housing) in Camas,” High said.

Affordable housing is one of the four issues highlighted in High’s run for city council.

The others are keeping citizens engaged in what’s happening in local government — High said he would love to see every council member bring a guest to a council meeting to help expose citizens to the inner workings of Camas’ government — partnering with other regional jurisdictions, school districts and county or state government agencies to find efficiencies on the local level; and making sure Camas upgrades and provides more access to its extensive parks and open spaces system.

“I am very much for improving the existing (parks and recreation spaces) we already have, and making them more accessible,” High said.

Having been a member of the planning commission during its work on the city’s North Shore Subarea Plan, High said he sees “endless possibilities for the city” to help shape the future of Camas’ North Shore and “make it something special.”

High noted that, without subarea planning, the North Shore could be developed by its many private landowners without giving much thought to what Camas residents might want to see on the north shore of Lacamas Lake.

Much of the North Shore is private property, so we were trying to get ahead of it. If we do nothing, we would see the same suburban houses we’ve had in the past. So it was never a question of ‘can we stop building there?’ because you can’t take away private citizens’ land,” High said.

High said the city’s acquisition of land along Lacamas Lake in the North Shore has created “endless possibilities” for the city.

“It will take time to do it, but we could really make it something special for people to go to the lake and have things to do for the kids, restaurants, family activities, places where people could go read a book in a coffee shop … the possibilities are amazing,” High said.

The city also must concentrate on improving the water quality of its lakes, especially Lacamas Lake, High said.

“It’s not a quick fix. The city can’t wave its wand and make the water quality better in a year,” High said. “The only way to improve water quality is to have lake cleanup investigations (like the ones the city of Camas and the state’s ecology department recently launched) and partner with stakeholders. We all need to work together.”

Geoerl W. Niles: The pastor of The Calling Church, member of the Camas Planning Commission and current chair of the city’s parking commission, Niles decided to jump into volunteering in local government after running for a mayoral appointment in 2018.

“I love this town,” Niles said. “And I thought, ‘If I can help, I want to help.'”

When the council chose then-council member Shannon Turk to be the city’s next mayor in 2018, then-city administrator Pete Capell told Geoerl he shouldn’t let the loss dissuade him from volunteering on one of the city’s many open boards and commission seats.

“I was drawn to the planning commission,” Niles said, “because I’ve been affected by the way the city plans … and it made me ask, ‘Why do they make these types of decisions?'”

At a recent League of Women Voters candidate forum, Niles said he was concerned by Camas’ lack of affordable housing, but believed Camas residents “didn’t want to see low-income apartments going up everywhere.”

“And I understand that,” Niles said. “We know we have children who can’t really afford to live here. They can work here, but can’t afford to be in our town anymore. My daughter is a chef at a restaurant here, but can’t afford to live in Camas. … But we need to be creative with cottage houses, row houses, condos … if we can do that and keep Camas Camas, let’s (do that and) not inundate it and become a suburb of Portland.”

Niles later said he believed it will take “a lot of strategic thinking” about where to place more affordable housing, “that doesn’t cause us to lose the feel of our hometown.”

On the issue of the city’s environment and cleaning the water in Camas’ lakes, Niles said he is “not a tree-hugger by nature,” but loves Camas’ many green spaces and wants to see city leaders help protect them.

“I love our land, and it’s our first priority to take care of our land,” Niles said. “We are spoiled by the amount of recreational areas we have in our area. But I hate to see the (toxic algae) signs go up every summer (at Lacamas and Round lakes). I remember growing up, seeing that happen to Battle Ground Lake, and I don’t want that to become Lacamas Lake’s legacy.”

A “people person” who works as both a pastor and in human resources, Niles said he loves “working with people and understanding their needs,” and would like to bring that approach to the city’s leadership team if elected to the city council.

“Our citizens are being very vocal … and waiting for somebody to listen to their needs,” Niles said. “I do want to say that we value our current leadership. I know they were disappointed after the pool bond measure failed (in 2019), but they did something we didn’t want and we’re showing our distaste for it. We’re not saying, ‘Hey, these guys are terrible, we want these people out.’ We have some amazing staff at Camas City Hall. They’re doing a great job … but we do have to find a better way of communicating with the people in our town.”

In his campaign literature, Niles notes that Camas’ taxes “are some of the most expensive in the region” and said he believes city leaders “need to be aware of the growing unease of businesses and homeowners and recognize the need to be diligent when it comes to our decisions and never collect more than is needed.”

“Our community is generous,” Niles said. “But we cannot take advantage of (that) generosity.”

Niles and his wife have lived in Camas since 2000. The couple has seven children, including two adopted nephews, and six grandchildren.

“As a husband, father, author, artist, pastor and community leader, I have volunteered in many capacities,” Niles stated in his campaign literature. “I have also worked during that time as a human resource manager and in senior management in the food industry. All have taught me the importance of listening carefully to the people we serve. There must be open and truthful conversation when it comes to the needs of our community. Our leaders must lead alongside our community. It is important to have everyone valued and everyone heard. It may sound like a lofty idea, but it is possible.”

Gary Perman: Perman, owner of the PermanTech Search Group, was out of town during the public’s first chance to hear from the Camas City Council candidates in a formal setting — during the League of Women Voters’ July 10 candidate forum — but spoke to The Post-Record early in his campaign about what he might bring to the city council.

“I’ve grown up here in Camas and have watched it grow and grow,” Perman said. “I live down by the Starbucks, and this neighborhood has changed — and not always for the best.”

Perman said he felt prompted to run for city council after realizing he had never met his city council representatives.

“They’ve never reached out to me,” he said. “I’ve never met even one of them.”

The more he talked to his neighbors and friends, Perman said, the more he began to believe “there is no communication between the city’s leaders and its residents. They’re out of touch.”

Perman said he doesn’t understand why the city recently hired a communications director, but believes city leaders wanted to create the new position “because of the debacle over the swimming pool,” referencing a 2019 bond measure asking the city’s voters if they would support building a new community-aquatics center with two swimming pools — one a competition pool that Camas athletes could use for training and competing — and upgrade several Camas parks for $78 million. The bond measure failed by an 80-point margin, with 90 percent of voters shooting down the idea.

Aside from wanting better communication from his city leaders, Perman said traffic issues are what really got the idea of running for city council into his mind.

“Traffic issues — infrastructure regarding traffic — all throughout the city is my main issue,” he said. “We have problems with speeders.”

Asked what solutions he might bring to the council to help abate residents’ concerns over speeding in the city limits and traffic problems, Perman said he didn’t have a solution, “but if somebody is complaining about issues like that, you need to start looking at it.”

“I contact council members (about speeding), and instead of them doing anything, they invite you to make a presentation to the city council,” he said. “You have five minutes to pitch your complaint and they take it under advisement.”

Perman said he believes his business background would add something different to the city council.

“I guess you can say it’s a different mindset than someone who is working for the government, a different perspective,” Perman said.

Asked how he might improve communications with Camas residents if elected to the city council, Perman said he would want to see city leaders resume in-person meetings and focus groups and “get back to the basic stuff that we all grew up with, not just be online where people can be anonymous and trash people.”

Camas is Perman’s hometown, and he said he loves the city’s “small-town attitude.”

“My dad worked in the paper mill and rose up the ranks,” he said. “Camas has always had so much access to the mountains and outdoors, which I enjoy, and it’s close to downtown Portland at the same time.”

Perman, and his wife, Becky, raised their two, now-adult sons in Camas. When he’s not working or running a city council campaign, Perman said he loves to hike, go wine tasting and enjoy the natural beauty of the nearby Columbia River Gorge.

WARD 3, POSITION 2 RACE

Four candidates also are competing for Camas Interim Mayor Ellen Burton’s Ward 3, Position 2 city council seat: Alicia King, Leslie Lewallen, Jennifer McDaniel and John Svilarich. The top two will move on to the general election in November.

Alicia King: A former recipient of the Camas mayor’s “Volunteer Spirit Award,” flight attendant for a major airline, founder of the Just a Girl in Camas nonprofit media group, longtime Camas Jazzercise instructor, 18-year Camas School District volunteer and founding member of the Camas Tree Protectors group, King said she’s always had a desire to help make positive changes in her community.

“Sometimes you talk about it, but then you have to step up to the table,” King said of individuals who tackle issues they see in their own neighborhoods and cities. “The opportunity (to run for city council) arose, so I put my name in and here I am.”

In her personal life, King said she is in a happy place: She and her husband are celebrating 23 years of marriage this year, and have two teenagers, including one who will be heading off to college this fall.

“I’m loving my life right now,” King said. “I’ve lived in Camas for 18 years, and my grandparents still live in their house in Camas. My dad grew up on a dairy farm in Fern Prairie. My great-grandparents lived here … so I’m fourth generation. And I love this community. I love living here, love the people, love the schools. I just love where I am right now.”

Her passion for the Camas community turned into a nonprofit called Just a Girl in Camas in 2013. The idea was to interview locals and “bring communities together by helping community members know each other better.”

That idea of bringing the community together over common dreams and goals — combined with a growing knowledge of the city’s inner workings, thanks to her work with the Camas Tree Protectors group, which was instrumental in urging city leaders to create policy to protect the city’s tree canopy from rapid development — is what prompted King to run for city council in the first place.

Though she has issues that are important to her, King said she would take a more realistic approach to implementing changes if elected to the city council.

“I’ve been learning how the system works, that there are procedures you have to go through, so I know jumping in on the first day and wanting to make 50 changes is not realistic,” King said.

That said, there are things King would keep an eye on as a city councilor. Protecting Camas’ environment and helping the city become more sustainable is close to this tree protector’s heart.

“I would love to pair up with the Downtown Camas Association and get some recycling containers in downtown Camas,” King said. “When people come to Camas, I want them to be blown away by options for recycling.”

King said, as climate change ramps up — “There is climate change. It is happening,” King said. “Those 115-degree days a few weeks ago? That is climate change.” — she believes people “will flock to Camas for our trees and water sources.”

“We need to protect the resources we have here,” King said. One such resource is Camas’ “crown jewel”: Lacamas Lake.

“The lake is what brings people to Camas,” King said during the candidate forum. “It is a focal point of our city. Taking a look at (the lake’s water quality) is important. The city has already obtained grants that will help with the funding for (cleaning the lake) going forward. But nothing is a quick process.”

Having a better understanding of “exactly what is going on” with the lake waters, King said, is an important piece of finding a long-term solution.

“Making that lake clean and beautiful and healthy is the city’s responsibility,” King added.

To help fight climate change on a local level, King said she would be in favor of putting in more electric vehicle chargers in Camas and the surrounding area to help encourage residents and visitors to switch over to cars and trucks that don’t rely on fossil fuels.

King said she takes daily actions in her own life to help cut back on her carbon footprint and conserve resources in her own home. In her campaign, she is one of two city council candidates — the other being Shawn High, who is running for a different council seat — not using campaign signs.

“I am doing a no-sign campaign,” King said. “I didn’t want to pollute my town anymore and I didn’t want to print on plastic.”

Instead, King — and High — have been hitting the pavement and talking to neighbors, meeting with Camasonians at cafes and in the city’s downtown area.

“I am doing the best I can to talk to people, to help them get to know me,” King said.

Leslie Lewallen: A retired attorney with experience working as a former deputy prosecuting attorney and judicial clerk for two state supreme court judges, Lewallen moved to Camas with her husband and four children in 2018.

The fifth-generation Washingtonian said her family was attracted to Camas for its small-town feel and proximity to the Portland-Vancouver metro area.

“We spent time in the Midwest where you know your neighbors, and you go into the local community and know the owners of the shops,” Lewallen said. “Camas had that same feel with Camas Days and the farmers market and Third Thursdays. It’s a wonderful community.”

Lewallen’s run for city council stems from what she believes is a disconnect between the city’s officials and its citizens.

“We need transparent and effective leadership,” Lewallen said. “I’ve heard from so many people who do not feel they are being heard and have to go fight against their own city for what they want. They’re frustrated and deserve so much better.”

If elected to the city council, Lewallen would push back on the city’s use of outside consultants.

“The city’s reliance on consultants has proven to be a problem … I don’t think they are getting this right,” Lewallen said. “I don’t think their (the consultants’) primary objective is always what the citizens want.”

Instead, Lewallen said she would want to rely more on citizens who have expertise in their fields.

“Why are we outsourcing to consultants?” Lewallen said. “We could listen to citizens, get citizen input. We have some really smart people willing to help who are putting together their own consultant-level reports, documenting issues facing Camas.”

Lewellan cited a Camas resident who has done extensive research on how the Lacamas Shores biofilter may be contributing to the toxic algae in Lacamas Lake; as well as her own husband, Brian Lewallen, a lawyer who is representing the citizen-led Dorothy Fox Safety Alliance pro bono in its lawsuit against the city of Camas over a conditional-use permit granted to a drug treatment and rehabilitation center.

“We have some very smart, concerned citizens we can utilize,” Lewallen said.

Lewallen also questions the city’s North Shore subarea planning efforts.

“When the city researched this and looked at citizen workshops that took place, it appeared to me that the conclusion was already built into the question: How are we to develop the North Shore? They assumed it had to be developed,” Lewallen said. “It appears the majority of citizens said they did not want that.”

Aside from the city-owned acreage near Lacamas Lake, most of the North Shore area is privately owned. City planners have explained that, without subarea planning — which they describe as “getting ahead” of development — the area could be developed by private landowners under current zoning rules. The city’s subarea planning was meant as a way for Camas residents to have input into what the nearly 900-acre area will look like in the future.

Lewallen said she would prefer to see the city grow downtown instead of in the North Shore.

“If we’re going to look at growth in Camas, my preference would be to look at the mill site, at the existing footprint in downtown Camas,” she said.

During the League of Women Voters’ July 10 candidate forum, Lewallen said the city should “explore” the area she called “the mill district,” referring to the Georgia-Pacific paper mill in downtown Camas. “Let’s build some multi-use developments right there.”

The mill’s owners have been adamant that, though they downsized the paper mill and closed the pulp mill in 2018, they have no intention of shutting down the mill or leaving Camas anytime soon.

Asked about the fact that the mill is still operational and the property still zoned for heavy industrial uses, Lewallen said “there are properties they are not using” and that she feels the city has “an opportunity to work together with G-P.”

In her campaign literature, Lewallen highlights her desire to rid Lacamas Lake of the toxic algae that has plagued Lacamas and other Camas lakes over the past few years.

“Lacamas Lake is one of our gems of Camas. It’s beautiful. It’s why people come here. But Lacamas Lake is sick, polluted. There is toxic algae growing in Lacamas Lake,” Lewallen said during the candidate forum on July 10. “We know what the problem is. We don’t need to study it anymore. We don’t need to pay consultants.”

The city recently kicked off an in-depth investigation into pollution sources coming into the lake in Camas and the state’s department of ecology is in the beginning stages of a multi-year, multi-jurisdictional investigation and mitigation of pollution sources flowing into the lake from the Lacamas Creek watershed. Lewallen told The Post-Record that, while she would continue to look at those pollution sources, she also would push for the city to address a failing biofilter under the control of the Lacamas Shores Homeowners Association.

“We need to do the multifaceted approach with multi-jurisdictional participation,” Lewellan said. “But I’m looking at the situation right now. Why wouldn’t we want to clear up one source of known pollution? Let’s fix that first and continue to study the lake.”

On the issue of communication between the city and its citizens, Lewallen said she would like to see council members do more research into citizen concerns brought up at council meetings.

“Every question deserves some sort of response,” she said. “I don’t know that (answering questions during the meeting) would be a good thing, but they could take their questions and concerns and get back to them.”

When citizens attend meetings and voice concerns, Lewellan said not hearing back from their elected officials will “eventually discourage and chill participation.”

Jennifer McDaniel: When McDaniel learned her elected city council representative, Ellen Burton, did not intend to run for reelection this year, the former Washougal City Council member realized she needed to jump into action.

“I was very, very concerned watching the turnover of the mayor and city administrator,” McDaniel said, referring to the surprise resignations of former Camas Mayor Barry McDonnell in May and his chosen city administrator, Jamal Fox, a few weeks later. “Then I found out Ellen Burton wasn’t running and thought, ‘Oh, dear.'”

When she discovered other longtime council members Melissa Smith and Steve Hogan — people she’d gotten to know during her nine years on the Washougal council — also would not be running in the 2021 council election (Hogan is one of two candidates vying to replace McDonnell as the city’s next mayor), McDaniel said she felt drawn to help support the community she now calls home.

“I was ready to step in and help the community through this transitional period,” McDaniel said. “I have experience in municipal government — none of the other three candidates have any government experience — and I know the city needs some steady leadership and stability. We will have a new city administrator, a new mayor and we don’t know what direction the city is going to be moving in. I’ve worked with most of the people on the council over the years, on joint committees, so I would have a working relationship with the majority of the council and be ready to help steady the ship.”

McDaniel and her husband, Lance, moved to Camas from Washougal with their two now-adult children in 2017.

McDaniel said she knows the pandemic has been tough for many, but she feels hopeful for the future.

“As we are coming out of the pandemic and sort of getting back to normal for a lot of people, I think we’re finding there is more we agree on than we disagree on,” McDaniel said. “I love to see our community come together, support our local businesses, and heal together. I want to see this Camas spirit rise.”

McDaniel also said she sees higher COVID-19 vaccination rates as “the only way we’ll be able to move forward and stay open.”

“The more people we can get vaccinated, the better,” she said, adding that she would support the city’s recent call requiring employees to show proof of vaccination to work inside city buildings without a mask. “I can see where that would be an issue, especially for those working inside, in close quarters.”

McDaniel has a strong volunteer background, having served with the Washougal Schools Foundation, the Camas-Washougal Chamber of Commerce and the Clark College Business boards. She also has volunteered for Meals on Wheels, Unite! Washougal and the Washougal Arts and Cultural Alliance.

She helped guide the city of Washougal through its first strategic plan in 2013, worked with WACA and the Chamber to help revitalize Washougal’s downtown core and spent time as a city councilor involved in economic discussions with the Port of Camas-Washougal and the city of Camas about how to bring jobs and economic development to the area.

McDaniel remains hopeful the Camas-Washougal Fire Department will find a funding solution that will meet the needs of its firefighters and emergency medical professionals.

“I do agree that we need more firefighters,” she said. “And I know it’s hard to handle the area’s growth with the same number of firefighters. We have to be supportive of the staffing they need to cover their service area.”

When it comes to equity and inclusion in the city of Camas, McDaniel said she would like to see city leaders find a way to connect with a more diverse representation of the city’s citizens.

“We have a very diverse population here in Camas and I don’t see a lot of that represented in the advisory committees (that give input to the city council),” McDaniel said. “It’s essential that we have these voices to help the city council gauge how the entire community feels on issues.”

McDaniel said she would, if elected to the council, reach out to various groups in the area such as the NAACP and League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) to find ways to include more citizens of color in the city’s decision-making processes.

McDaniel said she sides with Camas residents and city officials who have urged the state’s ecology department to consider uses other than industrial when deciding a future environmental cleanup plan for the Georgia-Pacific paper mill site in downtown Camas.

“They need to be very intentional and have a higher level of cleanup,” McDaniel said. “It’s prime real estate, for sure … Let’s hope they mitigate (the cleanup) to a higher level than heavy industrial or light industrial.”

If elected, McDaniel said she would work to help the city heal its relationship with citizens who have felt they are not being heard by elected officials.

“There are some trust issues, so we need to strengthen that trust and rebuild those partnerships,” McDaniel said. “Camas citizens are very involved and show their love for our community in so many ways. I care about this community. And I want to see Camas move forward, to come out of this pandemic and unite.”

John Svilarich: The chairman of the Camas School Board’s Citizens Advisory Committee, Svilarich lived in Camas for nearly two decades with his family.

“Camas has been good to me,” Svilarich stated in his campaign literature. “My sons grew up here and still live nearby. At this stage in my life, I could live many places, but choose to stay in Camas.”

The Post-Record was unable to reach Svilarich in time for this publication’s print deadline, but did take part in the League of Women Voters’ candidate forum and has stated his positions on several issues in his campaign literature.

“I want Camas to be good for all those that are here and all those who will come. Our quality of life is good, and our community is safe and fun and engaged, but we are growing and maturing,” he stated in his voters guide information. “I want to help ensure that we improve on what we have and do not lose our way as so many growing cities do.”

At the candidate forum, Svilarich highted his volunteer work with the school district and Port of Camas-Washougal and said he felt he had the “breadth of experience and background to serve in (the city’s) critical time of transition.”

“We will have three new (council members), a new mayor, a new city administrator,” he said. “We need experience and that’s me.”

On issues posed to other candidates during the forum, Svilarich agreed the city’s leaders have a responsibility for cleaning pollution in Lacamas Lake, but said the issue is bigger than Camas alone.

“Lacamas Lake is part of a regional parks network. So it’s not a simple solution of cleaning out a biofilter,” Svilarich said, referencing Lewallen’s claims about the Lacamas Shores biofilter. “The lake is fed from a watershed that includes dairies, homes, golf courses … so, yes, the city has a responsibility, but it’s not simple. The city and county need to work with property owners to minimize what is going into the lake.”

Svilarich said he believes the election comes down to what the voters expect for their elected officials. He noted some candidates seem to believe the only way they can accomplish anything is by fighting.

“I hear them criticize everything before them, yet they’ve never been involved before now,” Svilarich noted. “”Do voters want someone who is experienced in (the Camas) community and has been for years? Who is responsible and well-rounded? Who will listen? This is an important time for Camas. Nearly half the council will be new. We’ll have a new mayor and city administrator. And my only agenda is to be a good steward of the city.”