Camas Council starts hunt for interim mayor

Voters will name Barry McDonnell’s replacement in November general election

Following last week’s surprise resignation of Camas Mayor Barry McDonnell, the Camas City Council said it will soon select an interim mayor to guide the city through the Nov. 2 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 Friday, May 14. “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 appointed an ad hoc committee consisting of City Administrator Jamal Fox and councilmembers Greg Anderson and Shannon Roberts on Monday, May 17, to oversee the process.

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.”

Voters will select McDonnell’s replacement in the November general election, and that person will fulfill the last two years of McDonnell’s four-year term.

Two Camasonians — longtime Camas City Councilman Steve Hogan and Jennifer Senescu, a co-owner of the Camas Gallery and executive director of the Camas-Washougal Chamber of Commerce — have already launched campaigns to be the city’s next mayor.

Look for more information about the city’s interim mayor selection process, as well as features on candidates running in the November mayoral election, in future issues of the Post-Record and at the Post-Record online at camaspostrecord.com.