Washougal City Council members have named one of their own — Councilmember David Stuebe — to replace former Washougal Mayor Rochelle Ramos.
Ramos, elected in November 2021, to fill the Council’s Position No. 1 seat, which also acts as the city’s mayor under Washougal’s council-manager form of government, announced in August that she had taken a new job in Utah and planned to step down from her mayoral position, effective Sept. 17.
The Council voted unanimously on Monday, Sept. 26, to suspend their normal rules regarding Council appointments.
Instead of advertising the mayoral position vacancy and interviewing eligible candidates, the Council unanimously voted to appoint Stuebe to fill the vacant Council Position No. 1 seat and take over as the city’s mayor.
Councilmember Michelle Wagner said the decision to suspend the rules and appoint a Council member to the mayoral position was done for “continuity’s sake.”
“With the budget coming up and all the budgetary items that will have to be approved in the coming weeks,” Wagner said Monday, the Council wanted to have a mayor that was already familiar with that process.
“I agree,” former Washougal Mayor Molly Coston, who now acts as a regular Council member, told her Council peers. “I think this makes sense for us.”
Coston added that Stuebe, who was already serving as the Council’s mayor pro tem, “has been getting his feet wet.”
“He is much more than the chair of the Council,” Coston said of Stuebe. “He is out there in the community and I think (he) has become very adept at that and is engaged in all the activities we do.”
Stuebe, who served in the United States Marine Corps for 30 years before retiring as a colonel and has 20 years’ experience working in healthcare and pharmaceutical industries, has lived in Washougal since 2007. He and his wife, Paige Stuebe, have four adult children and three grandchildren. Stuebe was appointed to the Council’s Position No. 3 in March 2021, and elected to the position by voters in November 2021.
On Monday, Stuebe said he was “humbled” by the Council’s appointment to serve as Washougal’s mayor.
“I’ve got a lot to learn, but I’m just very proud,” Stuebe said.
Earlier in the week, during a Coffee with a Cop event at a Washougal Starbucks, Stuebe told The Post-Record that, if appointed to serve as the city’s mayor, he would concentrate on bringing more energy and commerce to Washougal’s historic downtown — and would like to see more in-person events in Washougal that help build community spirit.
In his “vision statement” on the Washougal City Council website, Stuebe said he hopes “to serve my community and be an active part in the continuation of growing a small city that cares for their neighbors and one where we all are proud, respectful and responsible to each other.”
Stuebe was sworn-in as the city’s mayor on Monday evening, and he will serve in that position through at least November 2023, when voters will choose a new mayor to serve the remainder of Ramos’ four-year term, which runs through the end of 2025.
Council members wished Ramos good luck in her new ventures during the former mayor’s last Council workshop on Sept. 13.
“I applaud you for how quickly and adeptly you came on as a mayor and ran the smoothest meeting going,” councilwoman Michelle Wagner told Ramos. “You also had the deep-down caring for the city, and I know you did a lot of groundwork, surveying the community before you became mayor. Thank you — you’ll be missed, and good luck in Utah.”
Ramos said she never anticipated she would only fulfill 10 months of her mayoral term.
“This career opportunity is an amazing step for me, and it takes me to Salt Lake City, so that is why I have to step down,” Ramos told the Council on Sept. 13. “I have very high expectations for the next person in line. I will definitely share what I have learned from the community and what I’ve heard through feedback and campaigning and social media, and I appreciate everyone’s support and understanding of me moving on.”
Ramos added that she had heard from community members who loved the fact that she made most of her social media posts public and tried to open up more communication channels between the city’s mayor and Washougal residents.
“Whoever is on Council in the future, or whoever takes over as mayor, I encourage them to do that,” Ramos said. “I know not everyone loves social media, but it is an avenue where you can share everything and get information out, so I hope that continues because that has been a positive thing I’ve (heard) from many, many citizens.”
Washougal seeking applicants to fill Council’s No. 3 seat
The Washougal Council members also voted Monday to appoint Councilman Ernie Suggs as the new mayor pro tem.
The city opened its three-week application period for applicants interested in serving on the Council and being appointed to the Council’s Position No. 3 seat left vacant when Stuebe moved into the No. 1 mayoral seat this week.
Applications for the vacant Council seat will be due Oct. 18.
Washougal City Manager David Scott said Monday that the “general rule of thumb” is, if the city receives more than “six to eight” applicants, the Council will have a meeting to “whittle that number down” before setting a date to interview applicants and name Stuebe’s Council replacement.
The Council will likely interview applicants for the Position No. 3 seat during a meeting in late October or early November.