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Camas, WA — After deliberating for about 25 minutes Wednesday night, the five remaining Camas City Councilors unanimously voted to appoint sitting councilor, Shannon Turk, to fill out the remainder of the term of former Mayor Scott Higgins, who recently retired from public service. She will be sworn in on November 19.

The announcement followed interview sessions with all four candidates: Turk, Pastor Georerl Niles, former Camas Mayor, Dean Dossett, and Camas City Councilor, Melissa Smith.

”Right now I’m glad the process is over because it was very stressful,” said Turk. “There were four very equally qualified candidates, and I spoke with them and they are very smart, likeable and would have been great mayors. I don’t know how Melissa is doing, she seems to be handling it very well. She’s a good person, and she wants what’s best, I’d hate for her to feel that she doesn’t have as great a value due to the votes. There is some benefit to having a unanimous vote.

”What I’ll do next is a lot of listening and continued learning, my own self-improvement, but also learning the things I don’t know. I have a lot of listening to do. I know my opinion and I know the people who I directly talk to — mothers with kids in the schools near Dorothy Fox. I know my ward, but I need to know the greater city.”

Turk will spend the next days and weeks deciding city priorities.

“My priority would be the pool/community center, and I need to lay out the options and let them choose what the priorities are. We don’t communicate processes well, so we need to work on that.”

Turk acknowledged the city has a public relations problem stemming from the departure of former City Councilor Tim Hazen and the ill-fated Senior Center project on Everett, and the lingering perception the council is a good ‘ol boys network.”

”We need more open communication,” said Turk. “Get all of the information out there that we have. Addressing the ‘Good ‘ol boys network’ perception, I will say this: Until I was appointed on council I didn’t know any of the city council members. I’ve grown with them, I hope they see my knowledge and potential leadership. The mayor is the city’s executive and needs to know how the city operates, so you would need someone with experience as opposed to someone from the outside.

“I am going to lay out a vision that would be to just get the city to focus on something — whether it’s firefighters, the pool/community center, police, or change the form of government. The executive provides the leadership and it’s a give and take. Some things they will bring up to the mayor and others will be from the mayor’s initiative. We need to talk about diversifying revenue. I see six options that we need to discuss.

“In the next 12 months, by the end of November 2019, I want people to understand where the city is going. I want actual progress toward whatever initiative we choose. I want development of a strategic plan.

“In 12 months, I don’t know if we can solve all the problems on the table right now. We can have the firefighter funding plan, but solving that issue is not what I see happening. We’re still talking about where to build the new community center/pool. It just takes time. I want to do all those things, I wish I could do everything.

“We have disparate points of view on Crown Park and the splash pad. Should I proceed with making a fantastic asset at Crown Park, or should I only focus on the pool? Lots of things to get done.

“It’s a leader’s job to proceed with the Crown Park Master Plan, and build a new pool with a community center. We need to have the competition pool centered there with sports fields. That’s what I want to do.”

She wrapped up her first interview as “Mayor-Elect” by praising a council colleague.

“Don Chaney acting as the mayor for the past six weeks has done a fabulous job of holding the line and making progress on communication issues,” Turk said.  “They’ve already made some changes internally. He just didn’t fill a seat, he tried to make improvements, and I appreciate that.”

She said she will run for a full term in 2019.

Turk

The four mayoral candidates. From left: Councilor Melissa Smith, Georerl Niles, Councilor Shannon Turk, and former Camas Mayor, Dean Dossett.

The Interviews

Each candidate was peppered with seven questions during their 20-minute sessions, and each finished with a 60-second closing statement about why they wanted to be the next Mill Town Mayor.

Chaney presided over the sessions, and councilors also had opportunities to ask questions.

The first question was really about personal introductions and professional backgrounds.

Turk explained her professional background in budgeting for local governments. She currently works full-time for the City of Vancouver doing budgeting analysis, and has 25 years of government experience.

“I have a strong sense of local government,” said Turk, who was nervous through about two-thirds of the interview. “I believe what I do is important. This is so nerve-wracking.”

The second question had to do with leadership and management style, and each candidate was asked to provide some examples.

Turk explained that she’s collaborative, and doesn’t always believe she has the only opinion.

“You have to listen to get buy-in and get to the common good,” she said. “I would like there to be a community center here in town. I would have to go out and see what people want.”

Turk

Camas City Councilor, Shannon Turk, during her formal interview with five of her colleagues.

The third question was about the city’s challenges over the next five years.

“Our biggest challenges are funding services — and going through the needs versus the wants,” said Turk. “We have many opportunities facing us. What are our options for paying for public services, for police, fire, etcetera? How do we pay for it? Parks and Rec has needs with limited resources — do we create a new taxing district? Then I look at growth north of the lake. We will have to pay for infrastructure improvements. I’m concerned about growth and there are many here that are upset about it.”

The fourth question was about candidate perceptions and opinions of the various forms of city government. Camas operates under a strong mayor form of government and there’s been discussion about shifting that to a councilor-mayor, aka “weak mayor” form of government.

Turk said she’s comfortable with both forms.

“There are benefits to both,” she said. “Some strong mayors forbid council to interact with staff. I think that both forms of government are pretty similar — it’s just how they’re implemented. I would be comfortable working under wither form. I‘ve watched Mayor Higgins.”

Councilor Deanna Rusch asked: “The prior mayor was very active — Do you have any challenges to your schedule?”

Turk’s reply: “Scott set a strong example. I would not have those same opportunities, but I have a very flexible job. I see this as positive, but we need to rely on the strategic plan and decide what our goals are. Staff should feel empowered to make the decisions. It would be a hinderance to have me in here all the time.”

Turk

The waiting game. Camas City Administrator, Pete Capell, talks with Camas School Board member, Erika Cox, while Shannon Turk looks on.

The candidates were also asked about social media, how it’s changed the way in which society communicates, and how they approach adversity and criticism on the Internet.

“I have never responded to criticism on social media,” said Turk. “You don’t win when you engage in social media. Never engage because it creates more opportunity for vitriol.”

She encourages personal communication, face-to-face, and said sometimes people need perspective. She discussed the issues and concerns around Crown Park Pool, and how people didn’t realize there were nine months of communication on that topic.

Each candidate was also asked about their greatest strengths and weaknesses.

“I’m very aware of the functions of city government,” said Turk. “I love what I do, I would love to be the mayor because I see so much opportunity. My challenge is we need to communicate more, which is my biggest challenge. Sometimes I cringe at things attributed to me. When you are trying to represent the city that’s not the image I would want. Scott was such a masterful speaker. That’s not me, that’s my biggest challenge. It means I can’t speak.”

Turk

At the beginning of the Mayor interview sessions. Five Councilors would appoint Turk as Mayor.

 

The East Clark Professional Firefighters Union is promoting a petition among Camas and Washougal residents that urges the Camas City Council to find funds to hire more firefighters.

The petition states:

”The Camas and Washougal communities have only 2 firefighters on each fire engine. The science-based industry standard is 4 firefighters per engine. This standard creates a safer and more effective team for when time counts: fires, motor vehicle accidents, and high acuity medical calls.”

“Washington state law mandates a minimum of 3 firefighters be on the scene of a fire before entering into a burning structure for a known rescue of human life. The same law mandates a minimum of 4 firefighters present before entry into a burning building to fight fire and save property.”

“The East Clark Professional Fire Fighters union is asking your local government officials to provide us with more firefighters so we can do the job we are sworn to do: protect you and your property.”

“Will you join us in urging these officials to make this a reality?”

“Thank you for your support.”

The petition link:

https://www.ipetitions.com/petition/ask-the-city-of-camas-for-more-firefighters-on

City of Camas Response

“The Council realizes that we need additional firefighters/paramedics,” said Camas City Administrator, Pete Capell. “They also realize that we need additional personnel in most departments. We are in the process of doing a level of service analysis for all of our departments. Their intent is to add additional staff in the departments based on prioritized need and available revenue. The petition will not influence their decision. The final decisions will be based on the greatest need.”

The Camas Mayor also met with firefighter union representatives.

“I had what I believe was a very good meeting with Adam Brice and Kevin Bergstrom last Thursday,” said Camas Mayor, Scott Higgins. “I told them we are open to looking at ways to do our business differently in the future and to looking at staffing options. I also told them that with limited resources we will have to see what works best and we left the meeting with a commitment to meet again soon.”

The Camas City Council’s newest member, Deanna Rusch, also spent time speaking with firefighters after last week’s council meeting.

“When I interviewed for my council appointment I indicated public safety is a priority,” said Rusch. “It remains a priority. As the newest council member I’m enjoying getting educated on how Camas funds all of its departments. Funding fire and police is certainly a priority for me as I represent my constituents, but this priority is in concert with the overall needs of the City. I look forward to Chief Swinhart’s presentation on the level of service with regard to his department as we review the same from every department and develop our next biennial budget.”

“We all want a safe, thriving and positive Camas. We take citizen and employee concerns seriously. I look forward to continuing to work in collaboration with all of our departments on how we can deliver the best possible service to our citizens.”

 

Firefighters

Local firefighters converge at Camas City Hall last week asking for more firefighter personnel.

 

Camas, WA — In a 5-2 vote Monday night, the Camas City Council voted to adopt Ordinance No. 18-006, requiring the use of bike helmets by any person operating or riding on a bicycle, in-line skates, roller skates, scooter, unicycle, or skateboard in any public area within the city.

Violation of this new ordinance, which will be active within 5 days of being signed by the Mayor and publicly published, would be a civil infraction. The parent or guardian, in certain circumstances, can be held responsible if a minor is in violation of the helmet ordinance.

The ordinance says “the helmet shall have a neck or chin-strap which is securely fastened while in use. It gives police officers the authority to stop and detain anyone in violation and provides discretion whether to issue an appropriate warning or citation. The ordinance does have a religious exemption.

Some facts about the new ordinance:

  • Violators of the helmet ordinance are subject to a $50 penalty, which could be waived in court.
  • For children under age 11, the citation would be issued to parents or guardians.
  • For children 12-16, the citation may be issued to the child or the parent or guardian.
Helmet

Don Chaney was one of two dissenting votes against the helmet ordinance.

Dissenting votes

Council members Don Chaney and Deanna Rusch were the dissenting votes.

Chaney spoke passionately against the ordinance, suggesting it would be hard to enforce. Rusch was concerned about legal liability issues to the city. She thinks there should be a greater focus on education, and that it could negatively impact lower-income families by requiring them to buy gear, and then citing them if they violate the ordinance.

To learn more, visit cityofcamas.us

 

Camas, WA —  Following a detailed November 2017 inspection by the Clark County Public Health Department, it was determined that the Crown Park Pool in Camas would require more than $300,000 of significant repairs and equipment replacement to meet code requirements.

Given that information, the Camas City Council on January 2 opted to not open the pool this year.

City officials have been working with some proposed concepts with the Crown Park Master Plan, which was shown to the public last summer.

“We are planning on moving forward with something,” said Camas City Administrator, Pete Capell. “The pool is 60 years old and we’ve been discussing for some time replacement options. We’ve discussed a splash pad at Crown Park, and there’s the option to build a new pool at a different location. Possibly a community center with a pool, work out area, meeting rooms and the ability to host events.”

He noted a new state-of-the-art facility may be too expensive for Camas and Washougal — even if it was a joint venture.

”We can explore having a private partner in there that might be able to do something, so that’s also in the works,” said Capell.

The Camas City Council will address how to handle the issues with the Crown Park Pool at their Annual Planning Conference on January 26 and 27 at the Lacamas Lake Lodge. The meeting begins at 1 pm on January 26, and at 9 am on January 27. Those sessions are open to the public.

City Councilor Deanna Rusch said the full agenda for the two-day session will be available online by January 24. Visit  www.cityofcamas.us for details.

“We know the pool is full of meaning and memories for our Camas community,” said the City of Camas on their website. “Our hope is to provide continued opportunities for summer outdoor fun, whether at Crown Park or elsewhere. Please stay tuned!”

City Councilor Bonnie Carter said the city does understand that citizens desire an aquatics facility of some sort.

“Council voted roughly 10 years ago to put repair funds into the pool, which extended its life expectancy,” said Carter. “The repair cost today is much more with no guarantee that we would get more than one summer. It was a tough decision not to open the pool this year but as one door closes, another opens, and I feel confident the plan to add a splash pad and amphitheatre will be a great addition to Crown Park. There may be an opportunity to partner with another entity to build a pool, but that’s only talk at this point.”

Pool

Zach Macia at a recent competition. He’s a member of the State Championship winning Camas Swim Team.

 

A Special Election is being held on February 13 to address four measures across several Clark County cities.

Here are the four resolutions that citizens will vote on:

  • City of Camas Resolution No. 17-016: This concerns the renewal of the city’s expiring Emergency Medical Services (EMS) levy. The proposition calls for a levy each year for a period of six consecutive years beginning in 2019, and will be a general tax on taxable property within city limits — in an amount not to exceed $0.46 per $1,000 of assessed value of such property. The levy will provide funds for continued EMS services.
  • Battle Ground has a proposal to relieve overcrowding and improve infrastructure in its schools.
  • Evergreen Schools has a resolution concerting a general obligation bond to provide funds to construct, equip, renovate and make certain capital improvements throughout the school district.
  • La Center School District has a resolution concerning a proposition to relieve overcrowding and improve infrastructure in several schools.

Key Dates:

  • Military/overseas ballots mailed – January 12
  • Deadline to update your existing registration – January 15
  • Deadline to register online – January 15
  • Deadline to register by mail – Postmarked by January 15
  • Ballots mailed – January 26
  • Deadline for new Washington voter registrations (in person only) – February 5

There are three ways to register, if you haven’t done so:

  • Online if you have a Washington sate ID or driver’s license.
  • In person at the Clark County Elections Office at 1408 Franklin St. Vancouver
  • By mail with a voter registration form available by mail or download from the office of Secretary of State.

For registration information, visit https://www.clark.wa.gov/elections/voter-registration

More full details on the election, see https://www.clark.wa.gov/elections

Camas, WA — During a Camas City Council meeting Tuesday night, Deanna Rusch was sworn into office by City Attorney, Shawn MacPherson.

Rusch was appointed to fill the seat left vacant by former City Councilor, Tim Hazen, who resigned his seat this Fall. Her committee assignments were also announced Tuesday night.

“I couldn’t be more excited to get to work for all of Camas,” Rusch said. “I learned tonight that I was appointed by Mayor Higgins to the Planning Commission, the Parks and Recreation Board, the Hotel Tax Advisory Commission, and I think the Joint Fire Task Force. I look forward to putting my skills to use and serving Camas.”

Her appointment makes the council fully complete, with 7 city councilors and Mayor Scott Higgins.

Rusch

Deanna Rusch takes the oath of office, which was administered by City Attorney, Shawn MacPherson.

“The process to appoint a council member is really rare,” said Higgins, “but when we do it’s really a defined process. The council interviews applicants, they have to live in the ward, and then the council members interview the candidates. We have rules to follow, and votes have to be done in public. The council did just that. We had really good candidates. And, they liked what they heard, and Deanna was sworn in tonight.”

During Tuesday’s council meeting, they approved a pre-annexation development agreement extension for property near Fisher Investments, and voted on an ordinance addressing animal noise.

The council also vote councilor Don Chaney as Mayor Pro Tem for 2018. That temporary position is to fulfill mayoral duties during the absence of the sitting mayor.

Rusch

The Camas City Council had just a few agenda items on Tuesday night.

To learn more, visit www.cityofcamas.us

CAMAS, WA — The Camas City Council, in a series of roll call votes Monday night at City Hall, appointed attorney Deanna Rusch to fill the seat left vacant by former councilman Tim Hazen.

Eight Camas citizens had applied for the seat, and the council spent time with each individual, asking them each five questions. The council then deliberated, voted, and their final decision was made late Monday. This is standard practice when an elected official leaves office prematurely.

“I had applied the first week of December,” said Rusch. “Then, I was contacted last week for the interview. The interview was in front of the whole City Council, the City Administrator, City Attorney, Police Chief, and several other city employees.”

During 12-minute interview, Rusch was peppered with questions about her priorities for Camas, what local issues interest her, what legal boundaries she would have as public official, and how she deals with conflict.

“As a divorce attorney, I deal with conflict daily and often have to deliver unfavorable news,” she said. “But, it was a nice interview, and I really didn’t expect to be appointed. There were so many other highly qualified applicants.”

Rusch will be sworn in January 2, and assume her duties representing Camas Ward No. 1, Seat No.1, which covers southeast Camas, including the downtown area. Her term will end December 31, 2018, so she will begin a campaign for a full term likely next summer.

“We had so many incredible applicants,” said Mayor Scott Higgins. “It’s really very fortunate. We also encourage people to come volunteer for open seats we have on various committees, such as the City of Camas Parks and Recreation Board. These are important positions and impact our future.”

As a councilwoman, Rusch wants to help the city manage growth issues, come up with creative ways to help Camas market its attractions, and continue to attract living wages jobs to the area.

Background

Rusch is single, grew up in Happy Valley, OR, and is the oldest of nine children. She is currently a divorce attorney for McKean Smith in downtown Vancouver, and has practiced law for 11 years. In 2003, she earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Law, Societies, and Justice from University of Washington, and went on to earn her Law degree from Gonzaga University in 2006.

She moved to Camas two years ago, and looks forward to serving her new hometown.

To learn more visit www.cityofcamas.us

ALERT: Lacamas Lake Park Trail Closure Periods: Tuesday, April 12th – Friday, April 15th

According to the City of Camas, Georgia Pacific will be collecting boring samples at the Lacamas Lake Dam next week (in accordance with a WDOE-Dam Safety Office request) and their contractors will need to close off sections of the trail on Tuesday (while they collect a boring sample at the Lower Dam) and on Thursday and potentially early Friday (while they collect a boring sample at the Upper Dam).

Signage will be posted over the weekend to inform the public. If you have any questions or concerns, contact Gordon Liljenquist, Environmental Engineer at Georgia-Pacific (360) 834-8142.

To learn more, visit www.cityofcamas.us

Park Trail

Portion of the Lacamas Trail will be closed this week.