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Randal Friedman Explains Why He’s Running For Camas Mayor

Randal Friedman

Randal Friedman answered Lacamas Magazine questions about his candidacy. He’s presently in a race to be Camas Mayor against incumbent Steve Hogan.

Why do you want to be mayor? 

I want to be Camas Mayor to bring our government back to our community and neighborhoods, and not serve special interests. I want to bring a new and needed vision to our city’s future. This vision is not the four-year term of a mayor, but a four-decade view on the Camas we leave behind for the future. I have a lifetime of problem solving, connecting and creating common ground on issues, and the passion to solve problems instead of kicking them down the road. One of my duties as the Navy’s advocate in California was looking four decades out at how California’s direction could impact military training and operations vital to our nation’s defense. I was successful in doing so, and bring those skills to Camas. 

What are the top three issues of your campaign?

  1. A safer and livable community. Ensuring that every resident, regardless of their background, can find a safe, secure and reasonably priced place to call home is crucial to a thriving community.
  2. Thriving Camas Lake and Forests. The restoration, preservation and enhancement of our natural gems into clean, vibrant, sources of pride for Camas is essential.
  3. Mill cleanup and future planning. We must plan for the Camas Mill’s future use in a way that aligns with our city’s needs and aspirations.

What three things is the city doing correctly? 

  1. Our own independent library. It took some work, but we reap the benefits of hard work by citizens to build and maintain our independent library. I’m a huge believer in libraries as sacred and neutral ground where a city comes together to learn, discuss, and have aspirations for the future. Our library has done special programing on issues in the past, and I will bring them back. We need to be looking four decades out for our future, and thank goodness we have our library to be part of that process.
  2. Consistent with looking four decades out, Camas has done a good job acquiring open space for our future. The Legacy Lands, open spaces in Forest Home, Ostenson Canyon, and Green Mountain are part of our future now. I would continue to look for opportunities, and start a conversation on how best to use them to serve our needs.
  3. The Lacamas Lodge is a gem in an incredible setting. It’s a gathering place for city and community events. It is there for classes. It embodies what we need as a city and is a model for the future as our population grows. 

What three things is the city not doing correctly? 

  1. Understanding the difference between listening and hearing. More and more I hear people fed up with making the effort to do surveys, attend workshops, and speak out only to see nothing happen beyond what the city/and our consultants recommend. A community pool is the prime example. Why does it feel like the community is being punished for stating unequivocally that while they want a pool, they do not want one that will place the city in debt, and will require fees out of reach to many of our most challenged households. The public sentiment is clear. Why four years after the 90 percent rejection of the pool bonds is a simple pool ten years out? 
  2. Growth management. Developers run the table and the city doesn’t negotiate. Even when something right was done to save trees, for example, the developer threatened litigation and we folded. On the other hand, when the community rose and actually litigated an issue, the city spent our money to fight the community. The City’s survey made clear the city is on the wrong track with growth management. 
  3. Respecting our newer residents. Half of Camas is made of people living here 10 years or less. They are constantly reminded that they haven’t lived here long enough to earn an opinion. This is wrong. People who moved here made a decision to uproot their lives and start a new one. They bring with them a new set of experiences, and an appreciation of problems that seem headed for Camas. Their opinions and ideas must count the same as any other resident but they don’t. New residents are not just an ATM machine for getting building impact fees and a variety of other revenue. They are creating new neighborhoods, and are the future of our city. They are the households with young families that are concerned about the Camas their children and grandchildren will inherit. They matter and must be part of governance. They feel they don’t belong.

How should the city handle mill cleanup? 

The Washington Department of Ecology has made something clear: the level of cleanup is based on future uses envisioned by the city. Rather than leave it to a private conversation between Ecology and Koch Industries, as the Mayor recently stated, and then have that agreement “explained” to the public, the public deserves the “seat at the table” we successfully fought for during Covid. The Community Advisory Committee has done a fantastic job starting a conversation about the mill’s future, and the importance of this to guide the cleanup. Unfortunately that spirit has been lost by a city still living in the mill’s shadow and acting like we are still a “mill town”. We also need to acknowledge this is more than a local issue. We are custodians of ancestral lands of Native Americans. As the Yakama Nation provided to me in a resolution I proposed to Council: “the cleanup of the Camas Mill Site and the restoration of natural resources impacted by the past, current, and future releases of hazardous waste in order to make the public whole and further tribal Treaty rights.” 

How should the city handle Lacamas Lake cleanup? 

Leading by example. The Lacamas Shores biofitler has become the unfortunate symbol of decades of general neglect of the lake. What was once a tremendous victory for Camas’ early non-governmental organization, the city looked the other way as it was abandoned and now pollutes the lake every time it rains. It doesn’t have to be this way. Through leadership on fixing this biofilter, we can move forward with the County, state, and work with other pollution sources to clean. We will have shown them our willingness to first clean the only known direct source of pollution into the lake. We are walking the walk. Come join us. We need to stop kicking the can down the road as some are saying and be willing to try some solutions. Maybe they won’t work the first time, but there is science out there strongly suggesting solutions. Unfortunately, we continue down the road of falling back to more study. 

You can learn more about Friedman’s campaign at: https://www.whatcamaswants.com

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