The Washougal City Council has chosen a longtime real estate developer to join its ranks.
The council appointed David Fritz to its No. 3 position during a meeting on Monday, Oct. 24, filling the spot vacated by David Stuebe, who was appointed to the mayor position in September, replacing Rochelle Ramos.
“Those who know me would not be surprised that I’m here,” Fritz said during the meeting. “I’ve been around city and local government throughout my life. … I am genuinely interested in serving the community. I do think my background in real estate development can benefit the council. I also am very skilled in project management. I understand financial (matters). I’ve got ideas for growth and (improving our) parks. I’m a pretty energetic person, and welcome the opportunity to be of assistance.”
The six sitting council members interviewed Washougal residents Fritz, Dave Ellis and Brian Johnson for the position, brought back Fritz and Johnson for a second round of questioning, then cast their final votes. Ernie Suggs, Julie Russell and Janice Killion voted for Fritz, while Stuebe and Molly Coston voted for Johnson. Michelle Wagner abstained from voting, stating that she viewed both finalists as equally deserving.
Fritz currently works as a real estate manager for the Dollar General Corporation, a Tennessee-based variety store company.
“As far as why the community might benefit from my service on city council, one reason is my lengthy career in corporate real estate development,” Fritz wrote in an application letter. “As such, I have extensive experience working with local governments (and) city planners, and a thorough understanding of zoning and related processes. I understand the due diligence process as well as construction, and I travel to and work with communities all over the Northwest. … My background might be useful to the city in helping to plan smart and competent local growth that is economically viable as well as aesthetically appealing.”
Fritz grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania and moved to Washougal in 2014.
“My interest in serving on city council is rooted in a deep sense of community that has grown over the past eight years that my family and I have lived here,” he wrote. “Our children attended and graduated from local schools. (My wife and I) walk in the local parks, shop at local businesses and participate in community events. My wife is employed at a Washougal-based business, and I have worked from my home office almost all of the past eight years, so I, too, live and work in Washougal.”
Fritz wrote that outside of work, he enjoys “healthy outdoor activities of all sorts” and has a “genuine appreciation for beautiful places and wildlife.”
“As a resident who frequently visits our local parks, I’m keenly interested in caring for and improving our local parks, (and I) have ideas for the expansion of a current park and improving its connectivity within the community,” he wrote. “I also believe there is tremendous potential to link downtown, neighborhoods, and our parks with multi-use lanes. And of course, the Washougal and Columbia rivers, as well as Washougal’s location at the western entrance to the Columbia River Gorge, are wonderful natural assets that can both enhance the local quality of life as well as draw visitors to the community.”
Johnson works as operations coordinator for Home Mortgage Experts, Inc., a San Diego, California-based mortgage bank company. He interviewed for the City’s No. 4 council position, vacated by Alex Yost and eventually filled by Killion, in January.
“My business experiences have taught me leadership skills, communication skills, and most importantly active listening, which in turn has made me a motivator for the people around me,” Johnson wrote in an application letter. “As Washougal is where I live and want to stay, I am very passionate about this city. From seeing public safety improvements such as fire partnerships to small business growth, we need to look for opportunities to keep improving and updating our community. I know that change can be fearful to some, but if we can’t adapt to change, we will get left behind. We need to continue to grow with our community so we can support our residents as best as possible.”
Ellis retired in 2019 after a 41-year career as a sales representative for animal nutrition companies.
“I worked with customers on developing, implementing and analyzing marketing and training programs across their organizations,” he wrote in an application letter. “I also mentored a number of interns and customer employees to help improve various business and analytic skills as it related to the success of their businesses. Over the years I took various roles to improve my education and to consult to the industry I was devoted to by attending conferences, continuing education, and helping others to grow. I am hoping to be able to use these skills to help Washougal to continue to grow and improve services to the community.”
Ramos, who was elected as Washougal’s mayor in November 2021, resigned in September and moved to Utah after accepting a new job.