City of Camas will seek interim mayor

Mayor Barry McDonnell resigned unexpectedly this week; interim mayor will serve until voters select new mayor in November 2021 general election

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Camas City Council members Ellen Burton (left), Melissa Smith (second from left) and Shannon Roberts (right) listen to citizen comments with Camas Mayor Barry McDonnell (second from right) at a December 2019 city council meeting. (Kelly Moyer/Post-Record file photo)

Three days after Mayor Barry McDonnell resigned unexpectedly, Camas officials have started their search for an interim mayor to guide the city through the Nov. 2, 2021 General Election, when Camas voters will select McDonnell’s replacement. 

According to Camas Communications Director Bryan Rachal, the city will announce more details about the vacancy and the application process “in the coming weeks.”

“The city will accept applications for the vacancy for three weeks following the public announcement, or longer should the city council determine it is needed,” Rachal stated in a news release sent out today. “The applicants will then be interviewed at a special meeting of the city council, with only council members being involved in the process per the applicable provisions of the Revised Code of Washington.”

Mayor Pro Tem Ellen Burton will appoint an ad hoc committee — which will include two city council members and the city administrator — to oversee the process, Rachal added. 

The Clark County Board of Commissioners will select an interim mayor if the Camas City Council fails to appoint someone to the position within 90 days of the vacancy announcement.

McDonnell, elected as a write-in candidate in the November 2019 general election just a few weeks after throwing his hat in the ring, had been in his position for a little more than three months when the COVID-19 pandemic turned life upside down for Camas residents and its city leaders. His $166 million biennial 2021-22 budget, which focused on the mayor’s three priorities —  “land, people and honesty” — linked city spending to the state’s COVID-19 reopening phases to better weather any pandemic-related economic uncertainties. 

During McDonnell’s tenure, the city hired a new city administrator and a new parks and recreation director, as well as Rachal, Camas’ first communications director.

In his resignation letter sent to city staff and the community on Tuesday, May 11, McDonnell said his role leading the city consumed much of his time and that he needed to spend more time with his family, which includes his wife, Anastasia McDonnell, and the couple’s four young children.

“I rolled the dice as a write-in (mayoral candidate) and took winning as an extraordinary honor,” McDonnell wrote in his resignation letter. “It was a historical opportunity and a huge challenge, and I am proud of what we accomplished together, and that I was able to help lead this city through 2020.”