Candidates throw hats in for Camas-Washougal elections

Few local races draw enough interest for primary election; voters will choose new mayors, city councilors, school board members

It may be a quiet primary election season in East Clark County despite mayoral races in both Camas and Washougal and 16 open positions on city councils, school boards, the Port of Camas-Washougal and other commissions.

A total of 32 candidates filed to run in the local, nonpartisan elections by the May 21 deadline. Of the 16 open positions in the Camas-Washougal area this election season, only three races — to determine Washougal’s next mayor and two Camas City Council members — attracted enough candidates to appear on the Aug. 3 Primary Election ballot.

Ballots for the primary election go out to Clark County voters in mid-July.

Washougal voters will select that city’s new mayor this year, as well as three council members and two school board members. In Camas, voters also will select a new mayor, three council members and two school board members. The Port has two of its three commission seats up for grabs, and the East County Fire and Rescue Commission also has two seats open in 2021.

The local councils, schools boards, port commission and fire district commission are all considered nonpartisan offices, which means a primary election will only be held in the case of more than two candidates vying for the same position. If only one or two people are running, there is no primary election and the candidates will only compete in the November general election.

There are three people vying to be Washougal’s next mayor, including City Councilman Paul Greenlee, Derik Ford and Rochelle Ramos.

Along with the Washougal mayoral race, two Camas City Council positions also garnered three or more candidates, meaning they will appear on the Aug. 3 primary ballot.

Camas Councilmember Melissa Smith, who was appointed to the council in 2004 and elected to her first term in 2005, did not declare her candidacy by the May 21 deadline. Instead, four candidates — Marilyn Dale-Boerke, Shawn High, Geoerl W. Niles and Gary Perman — will compete for Smith’s Ward 1, Position 2 council seat in the primary election. The top two vote-getters will move on to the November general election.

Likewise, four candidates will compete in the primary election for Camas Councilmember Ellen Burton’s Ward 3, Position 2 seat. Burton, the city’s current mayor pro tem, said in April she did not plan to run for reelection in 2021. Candidates vying for Burton’s seat include Alicia King, Leslie Lewallen, Jennifer McDaniel and John Svilarich.

School board, some council races head straight to November election

Despite a recent influx of community members showing up at in-person school board meetings to voice their displeasure with elected school leaders in Camas and Washougal, the four open school board seats in East Clark County have attracted just a handful of candidates.

In Camas, both incumbents — Erica Cox and Corey McEnry — will each face one challenger in the November general election.

Jeremiah Chevrolet Stephen, a Vancouver insurance agent, will compete for Cox’s District 2 seat. Cox, an avid parent volunteer appointed to her position in 2017, went on to run unopposed in the 2019 general election.

Ernie Geigenmiller, the owner of Lacamas Magazine who has long positioned himself as a member of the media at school board and other local government meetings, will compete against McEnry, a longtime Hockinson High School teacher, for the board’s District 1 seat.

In Washougal, incumbent school board members Donna Sinclair and Chuck Carpenter also have just one opponent each. Sadie McKenzie will challenge Sinclair for the board’s Number 3 seat and Janice D’Aloia will run against Carpenter for the Number 5 seat.

A few city council races — as well as the Camas mayoral race — attracted fewer than three candidates, meaning they also will head straight to the November general election.

Two Camas mayoral candidates — longtime Camas City Councilman Steve Hogan and Jennifer Senescu, the executive director of the Camas-Washougal Chamber of Commerce — will compete in November for the chance to lead the city through December 2023. Former Camas Mayor Barry McDonnell resigned unexpectedly in April, less than two years into his first term.

Camas City Council candidates Martin Elzingre and Camas Planning Commission member Tim Hein — will compete for Camas Councilmember Steve Hogan’s open Ward 2, Position 2 seat in the November general election.

There are three, non-mayoral Washougal City Council seats open in 2021, but two candidates — incumbent Julie Russell (Position 6) and David Stuebe, running for the Position 3 seat currently held by mayoral candidate Paul Greenlee — will run unopposed.

Washougal Mayor Molly Coston is not running for mayor again, but has announced her candidacy for the Washougal Council’s Position 5 seat. She will run against candidate Chris de la Rocha, a professional mixed-martial-arts fighter and local gym owner, in the November general election.

Other local races bypassing the primary election include the Port of Camas-Washougal, where incumbent commissioner John Spencer is running unopposed for his District 1 seat and incumbent Larry Keister will face just one opponent, Jeramy Wilcox, for his District 3 seat; and the ECFR Board of Commissioners, where incumbent Sherry Petty is running unopposed for her Position 5 seat and newcomer Steve Hofmaster will also run unopposed for the Position 3 seat now filled by Commissioner Mike Berg.

Voters can choose to write-in the name of a candidate for any position, but write-in candidates must submit a declaration of write-in candidacy by 8 p.m. on Election Day to have officials count their votes. McDonnell, Camas’ most recent mayor, won his 2019 campaign as a write-in candidate.

For more information about the 2021 elections in Clark County, visit clark.wa.gov/elections.