Camas City Councilor Melissa Smith is one of four candidates who recently applied to be the city’s next mayor.

The September resignation of former Mayor Scott Higgins leaves the office vacant, and it will be filled by City Council appointment. Four have applied for the job — City Councilors Shannon Turk and Smith — as well as Georerl Niles, who is Chair of the Camas Parking Commission (a volunteer position), and former Camas Mayor, Dean Dossett.

A 2011 city resolution requires the council to interview them all.

“We have seven on council and so the five remaining council members will decide who becomes the next mayor,”said Camas City Administrator, Pete Capell. “They will interview all the candidates with pre-prepared questions. They will work it out until a candidate has a majority.”

Applications were due Friday, October 26, and the special interview meeting is scheduled for November 14. There will be a public swearing-in at the council meeting on November 19. The new mayor will complete the existing term, and then run again next Fall.

Smith, who has served on the City Council since 2004, is a retired Purchasing Association Vice President, and has many years of leadership and civic experience. She’s fully committed to spending 40 hours a week to serve as Mill Town’s leader, which she says is crucial. The mayor’s role is generally a part-time position.


“We need a mayor who can commit to 40 hours a week,” said Smith. “The staff is phenomenal, but we’re at a time in our city’s history where we need a full-time mayor. There are so many important issues happening in our growing city.”

So, what are the top three reasons she wants the job?

Life Experience

“For me it’s not a status thing, or a money thing,” said Smith. “$22,000 a year isn’t much. I have a lot life lessons. I have traveled extensively throughout the United Sates with my job and personal life. I’ve been to foreign countries. I have a broad outlook on life. I’ve seen a lot. I’ve seen real racist things in the South, and I’ve been serving the city of Camas for many years. I know how things work.”


“Everyone has 24 hours in a day,” said Smith. “Because of health issues I’ve learned that how you manage your energy is more valuable in the long-run because it makes you more productive, more efficient, more balanced. Energy is more important than time. I’m very much about closing the loop on projects because of the different work experiences I’ve had. From conception to completion, you need to look at the glitches, then analyze them and so you need critical thinking. It’s having the ability to bring the right people together and do the what/if scenarios.”

Building the New Camas Pool

“Earlier this year, my request was if we close the pool by the end of 2018 we should identify the location for a pool,” said Smith. “Everyone agreed, and now it’s morphed into a community center project. I’m very much for a new pool, and I’m very open to the competitive part of swimming. I applaud what they do with football, but there are other sports that need the same support. I think the mill’s R&D property needs more research. We just need to get it done.”


Smith says the city needs a new pool — for competitive and recreational purposes.

Day One

“One of the first things I would do, if appointed Mayor is I would sit down with each council member, and ask them what things are working well within the city, and what things aren’t working well in the city,” said Smith. “It could be anything from how we’re being perceived. Then, I would repeat the same thing with the department heads. I would reach out to key business people in the community, and a few others. Then from there, if we could see a general theme of issues, then we go forward. Work on reviewing all the ad-hoc committees. We spend so much energy and time in these committees. There are efficiencies and effectiveness that need to be analyzed. We need to have actual Ward meetings. Bring those back, and just sit and listen. Even though the mayor’s position is a part-time position they still have a commitment to touch in on key issues. I want to get in there and stabilize the city and right the ship with full-time leadership.”

Smith was appointed March 2004 when Paul Dennis became mayor.

“There was a vacancy, and I applied for it,” Smith said.

She stepped down from her executive position, and went into the council role position. In 2005, she was voted in her for her first full term.

“I’ve been on council for 14 years,” said Smith. “It’s way more complicated than people know. There’s a lot. You have to come in with the mentality of having an open mind, a clean slate and let people share the roles and expectations and learn where to look and study — to gain perspective. It takes a lot in the beginning. There’s a lot of reading, ground work, and you have to learn to be an effective councilor.”

With two city councilors running, one will definitely lose, so will there be bad blood on the council?

“Shannon and I have talked, and when I made the announcement about seeking this position, we met and spoke for two hours or so,” said Smith. “We’re good. This could either be curse or a blessing either way, for either of us. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done. That person has to be accessible to give that sense of stability. Now I want to be on the other side. If it doesn’t work out, I’ll be disappointed, but I’ll still be on council for three more years.”

Vancouver, WA — According to early election results, local Republicans will maintain power with wins in many key races, from the 3rd Congressional district to state and local seats. The race for Clark County Council Chair, however, is led by Democrat Eric K. Holt, who currently holds a 1,200 lead over Republican Eileen Quiring.

Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler, with 52.2 percent, is likely to win her relection bid against Carolyn Long. Herrera Beutler spoke to supporters and volunteers in Vancouver following election returns. Long outspent Herrera Beutler by more than $1 million.

“People know truth when they see it,” said Herrera Beutler. “Just let me say thank you, thank you, we have an awesome team heading to the State Legislature. We have a daunting task ahead but I look forward to this fight and many others alongside you for the people of this region and this country. Thank you so much and God bless.”

Asked what the national results say about the mood of the nation, Herrera Beutler said: “I do feel like folks here in SW Washington want a representative who’s a local representative who focuses on local issues.”

Political newcomer, Larry Hoff, a Republican, is embarking on his second career following 35 years working for credit unions. He will likely serve in the LD 18, Pos. 2 seat which is currently being vacated by Representative Liz Pike.

“I feel great, I’m one-for-one,” said Hoff. “It feels great. It’s a reflection on all the work we did, and all the volunteers. We’re ready to get to work. I’m excited to go to work and be part of solutions, common sense solutions. I learned that you cannot do this alone, and I’m excited about the fact that we had a wonderful team.”

His opponent, Kathy Gillespie, a Democrat, is losing her second bid for this seat. It was a tough night for her.

“I feel grateful to all of our supporters and the people who worked for the campaign these past 15 minutes who demonstrated their support,” said Gillespie. “I think sometimes progress comes slower than we want to see it come. Certainly, I would have preferred to see a different vote total tonight, but we’re proud of the work that we’ve done.”


Eric K. Holt holds a slight lead over opponent, Eileen Quiring.

State Representative Brandon Vick, LD 18, Pos. 1, a Republican, handily won his seat and said he looks forward to working on the next budget.

”We have a lot of work to do on McCleary,” said Vick. “And we promised voters we’d lower their property taxes.”

Eric K. Holt holds a 1,200 point lead, and he was cautiously optimistic at the Democrat event.

”What this is telling me is that we’re still really a divided country and that we need to do a lot of healing,” said Holt. “I will bring us back together as a county, as a country so we can work together as Americans.”

Temple Lentz, a Democrat, is handily winning her race for Clark County Council.

State Rep. Vicki Kraft, 17th LD holds a slight lead over Tanisha Harris. Clark County Assessor, Peter Van Nortwick, handily won his reelection, as did State Rep. Paul Harris, also a Republican.

“I feel grateful we’re in the winning position,” said Kraft. “We are up by 500 votes, which is exactly where we were in 2016, and we just continued to trend up, so I’m really thankful for the support …”

Stay tuned for updates on these close races.


Vancouver, WA — The Clark County Elections Office reports today that voter turnout is at 47 percent, or 132,262 of the 281,554 eligible voters in the county. To put that in perspective, turnout at this point in the last mid-terms, in 2014, was at 28.3 percent.

Two years ago, Clark County turnout the day before the general election was 52.7 percent. Mid-term elections (between presidential elections) historically have lower turnout.

Political scientists across the country say this election cycle has been very hard to predict and that polling is more challenging than ever — given cell phone usage. The consensus, however, is that voter enthusiasm is way up across the political spectrum all over the United States.

The Clark County Elections office also announced they will do a manual random count as part of their scientific comparison against machine results.


The statement says:

“Beginning at 8:30 am Wednesday, Nov. 7, elections officials will perform a hand count of approximately 600 ballots randomly selected as part of a manual comparison against machine results.

“The selected ballots will be counted in the total returns on Election Day. But for this comparison, the United States Representative, 3rd Congressional District race on those ballots also will be counted by hand, to check the accuracy of the ballot tabulation equipment.

“If a voter has not received their ballot, they should contact the Elections Office at (564) 397-2345 or Ballots are not forwarded by the U.S. Postal Service. If a voter has recently moved, and the Elections Office did not receive a change of address, a ballot will be returned as undeliverable.

“A voter may download a replacement ballot at The voter must print the ballot and return it following instructions included in the download. Click on “Need a Replacement Ballot?” to get started.”


On October 22, the Camas Youth Advisory Council (CYAC) hosted a forum at Camas Theatre for political candidates vying for four separate offices — the third Washington Congressional District, Clark County Council Chair, and two Washington State Legislative Districts (18th, positions 1 and 2).

This article focuses on the responses between Republican State Representative Brandon Vick and challenger Democrat Chris Thobaben, who are running for the LD 18, position 1 seat in the Washington State House of Representatives. Vick is currently in his third term.

At the forum, each answered a series of questions composed by the CYAC students.

The council opened with a topic very real to students, asking the candidates if they believed the McCleary decision over educators’ salaries was a fix.

Vick affirmed that McCleary made sense, calling it a very good piece of legislation. He also said that salaries were funded as ordered, saying they gave a “big pot of money” to each district to distribute as they wished. Thobaben replied that McCleary was designed to be a fix, but that people did not realize its complexities. He emphasized that teachers are professionals and need to be paid as such.

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The next question addressed the levels of transparency in Legislature. Thobaben recalled being on the campaign trail and getting more calls from lobbyists than constituents. He called for complete transparency, saying he wished that everyone could watch as legislation is written to understand the process. Vick discussed looking at Senate Bill 6617, dealing with transparency in government, and how he decided that it was better than the preexisting bill. He also said there needs to be more flexibility in the matter, saying “Open and transparent makes sense to me.”

The third question addressed the second amendment and gun control. Vick was sure that the issue would be one going back and forth for years to come. However, he did not believe in denying one group of people a right. He also asserted that some people still hunt to eat, making guns a necessary tool. Thobaben said that responsible gun owners treat their weapons with respect, and that mass shooters have not been taught how to properly take care of arms. He also advocated for guns being locked up at all times to prevent easy access and avert potential disasters.

Both candidates thanked CYAC for putting together the forum. Thobaben closed with a call for young people to get involved in politics, and Vick ended with a promise to bring big companies and jobs to the area.

By Riley Kankelberg, Camas High School

Photo Gallery

Camas, WA — Camas High School and members of the Camas Youth Advisory Council (CYAC) are preparing their 16th annual Candidate Forum, which will take place on Monday, October 22 at 7 pm in the Camas High School Theatre. The public is invited and your participation is encouraged.

CYAC is a Camas High School organization dedicated to educating students and others about the politics taking place in Camas and throughout our community.

“We are sure that you are aware that the national, state, and local elections will soon be upon us, and we encourage you to become involved with CYAC’s sixteenth annual Candidate Forum held at the Camas High School auditorium,” said CYAC in a statement. “The Candidate Forum is a great way for members of the community to hear the opinions and ideas of their political representatives. In past years, we have had many influential candidates attend the forum, which has been significantly beneficial to aiding voters in the decision-making process.”

This year, the forum is bringing together candidates running for the following seats: U.S. Representative for Washington’s 3r​d​ District; Washington State Representatives from the 18th​ District, positions 1 2; and County Commissioner for District 3.

The council is expecting to have the participation of Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler, her opponent, Carolyn Long; State Representative Brandon Vick, his opponent, Chris Tobaben (running for 18th LD, position 1); Larry Hoff and Kathy Gillespie (running for 18th LD, position 2, a seat which is currently being held the retiring, Liz Pike; as well as Eric Holt and Eileen Quiring (running for Clark County Commissioner).


Meet Kathy Gillespie.

Her supporters say her education credentials are essential given the flaws in the new state education funding model. Her critics say she’s a hard-left politician masquerading as a moderate who will restrict Second Amendment rights, raise taxes, and hurt businesses.

Undaunted, Gillespie marches forward in her quest for the Washington State House (Legislative District 18, Position 2) seat, which is currently held by retiring Representative Liz Pike, a three-term Republican. Her campaign is determined to knock on 30,000 doors with volunteers working long days, seven days a week to get the word out. They’re determined to flip the LD 18, Position 2 seat from red to blue — from Republican to Democrat — in what Gillespie sees as a “blue wave” across the state.

With Pike’s retirement, LD 18 No. 2 is open seat, and Gillespie is running against long-term business leader, Larry Hoff, who is a newcomer to politics. It’s historically been a safe Republican district, but Gillespie sees an opening.


She’s been here before when she tried to unseat Pike two years ago. She lost that race, earning 43 percent of the vote.

“We did very well in 2016 against Liz Pike,” said Gillespie. “I didn’t really have a good campaign. Didn’t have a manager, didn’t have any money. We got 43 percent. Campaigns are complex organisms and candidates have to learn how to do it right. Sometimes the result is a reflection of a poorly run campaign. I think we’re seeing more sophistication from candidates about how they’re running.”

Gillespie has been actively campaigning against the McCleary legislation, claiming it creates chaos and fiscal deficits in school districts across the state. She’s been supportive of local teachers, attending strike rallies in August and September. And, she’s been critical of legislators who drafted the law.

“In the school reform bills passed were certain reforms with school funding going forward, and dealing with teacher compensation,” Gillespie said. “The school funding requests are addressed every year, and that will be like it’s always been. But there are concerns going forward, such as the fix, the levy limitations. There are concerns about inequities with the way the levy swap is affecting districts.”

She said, if elected, addressing concerns with the current funding legislation would be a high priority. She touts her eight years serving as Board Director of Vancouver Public Schools as a qualifier for the position she seeks. But, her critics say her lack of private sector experience is a real concern.

“If she’s never signed the front side of a paycheck, she does not know how tough it is to be a job creator in this state,” said Pike. “Her party has crushed business in Washington. In today’s over-regulated business environment, Bill Boeing could not launch his successful aerospace industry.”

So, why is she running? Here are her reasons:

  1. Educational Mandates. She claims many new educational mandates have funding gyrations that sometimes come with strings attached. She says her experience in public policy work can be applied to the legislature.
  2. Excellent Schools. Good schools are the foundation for a good future. Properly educated children become successful leaders of families, businesses and communities.
  3. Jobs. We need to have more jobs based in Clark County and SW Washington. Gillespie says the region needs 50,000 more living wage jobs. “We can do that,” she said. “We have cities with grand ambitions and are led by civic leaders with big plans. State government needs to be there to help them.”
  4. Infrastructure. “The I-5 corridor needs improvement. We need to build new roads, and new bridges, and that builds jobs. I’ve talked with Portland companies about making improvements here so our workers can live, work and play in those cities. New employers are telling us what their workers want. They want more high density near where they work. Washington already has a great economy. We have a great environment here already. The Vancouver waterfront is coming. We should be able to with state government’s attention to fund infrastructure projects. SW Washington doesn’t get its fair share out of Olympia. I think that we’re the southern gateway and we need our fair share of the budget. We need to counter Portland’s weight. This is what we bring to the table. We have awesome businesses over here.”

With campaign volunteers.


Is there a “Blue Wave” coming to Washington state?

Gillespie thinks so.

“There’s a great deal of dissatisfaction with the GOP with the major property tax increase,” said Gillespie. “It didn’t have to be in that amount, because it really punishes some areas of the state. It was done in the latter part of a long session. We’re working out some of the problems. The confusion today lies in the way the legislation was written, as it confuses how levies are going to work. At the 11th hour they created confusing legislation. We need to hear from districts about the trouble they’re running into. It will help us get through this easier.”

For the record, the bill was passed with broad bipartisan support, and retiring Rep. Liz Pike voted against the property tax increase. Gillespie’s opponent, Larry Hoff, is against any type of tax increase.

Gillespie predicts a blue wave because she said: “It was a failure to solve our transportation issues, and a failure to put a partnership together with Oregon. I propose we focus on I-5 corridor and see what’s possible by getting back to the table with Oregon. People need to put their marriage back together and start building trust.”

“They are very upset about the tax burden,” said Gillespie. “They are strangled by their property taxes, so they don’t see the fruits of that investment. Public trust in money they send has been violated.”

Speaking Out

“Legislators don’t want to hear about McCleary, but we need to understand the impact of the McCleary reforms,” Gillespie said. “With the levy lid passed it has created inequities, and we need to look into the details of all this. 295 districts are implementing these reforms and aren’t getting good direction from OPSI, and they’re unpacking this individually as districts. Each school district has unique characteristics, and they were passed as one size fits all — and that’s already showing it doesn’t work.”

She wants to make sure the regionalization of pay is having the effect the legislature intended.

There are major concerns, and she breaks them down:

  1. The state needs to make sure they’re paying the full cost of special education, and that needs to be addressed immediately. Local levies cannot be used to backfill special education funding. The state knows it’s not spending enough money on special education. The state needs to step up and pay the full cost. Each Superintendent is dealing with this.
  2. There is also concern about spending on counseling and nursing, and they need to spend more directed resources to pay for those. If we can do those things, it will take pressure off the budget. That will give them some relief. There appears there is bipartisan interest in funding special education, as well as counselors and nurses.
  3. Each district can re-prioritize their expenditures to streamline the budget. The districts need to be challenged about how they’re spending their money. They will need to live within their means, and taxpayers will expect school districts to do that. Each district needs to closely examine the budget and re-prioritize dollars, and everybody has to do that.
  4. The early numbers about funding special ed, nursing, counselors, are about $300 million. “We are mandated by the federal government to do these things, but they haven’t funded that, either,”Gillespie said. It can’t be an unfunded mandate.”

Where do you get the extra money to do that?

“The state needs to take responsibility for their own expenditures,” Gillespie said. “So, we need to know what our revenue forecasts are, and then we need to figure out what the funding requests are. We will have a problem because we’re reducing levies and we’re not paying the full cost of special education, nurses, and counselors. Look at existing revenue and analyze that first.”

“I’m not talking about any new sources of revenues until we know our state budget. We will have to re-prioritize dollars. I challenge our priorities to make sure we’re funding the core services of government first. My experience on the school board taught me that we have to challenge the status quo, and to make sure the budgets perform better with existing revenue.”

Pike said “she will vote with her Democrat caucus to further restrict second amendment rights. Her first loyalty will be to the teachers’ union.”



Gillespie on the campaign trail.


Gillespie has worked extensively in education and in the public sector:

  • Vancouver School District Board Director (2009 – Dec. 2017).
  • Candidate for State Representative, WA Legislature, 18th LD (2016 & 2018) Position 2
  • Led $80K renovation of school courtyard at Vancouver School of Arts and Academics (VSAA). Led $10K renovation of playgrounds at Eleanor Roosevelt Elementary.
  • Led development of Roosevelt arts space working with school, district staff, community artists and local businesses to complete $7K project.
  • PTA President, Eleanor Roosevelt and VSAA.
  • Member of school committees formed to address budget shortfall, Parent Advisory Council for superintendent and site-based at VSAA, Roosevelt.
  • Active school volunteer, Lunch Buddy, mentor and committee member at all levels – school site, district and regional (2000-2016).
    Participant in Design II: The Art of Imagination strategic-planning initiative study groups with a focus on family and community involvement (2007 – 2009).
  • Participant in three-year School Improvement Plan process at Eleanor Roosevelt Elementary.

“I’ve knocked 7,000 doors, and our campaign has knocked on 18,000,” said Gillespie. “Our goal is to knock on 30,000.”

To learn more, visit

Camas, WA — Longtime Vancouver resident, and retired credit union executive, Larry Hoff, a Republican, is running for the open seat in the Washington State Legislature’s District 18, position 2, which is currently held by retiring Representative Liz Pike, of Camas.

New to the world of politics, Hoff outlined the reasons why he’s running, which are as follows:

  • Common Sense
  • Education
  • Balanced Budget
  • Small Business Support
  • Transportation

Common Sense

“Our campaign has been received quite well by so many here in our area, and it’s a great honor to run,” said Hoff. “I really want to bring a conservative common sense to the legislature. I’ve been in business for 35 years and there are challenges as to how people are going to pay their tax bills these days. There are many pressures on taxpayers right now, and we need to look at things with a common sense lens, and not be so partisan. If it makes sense do it, if not, then don’t do it.”

To learn more his campaign, visit


“People are at each other’s throats right now,” said Hoff. “Is there a way we can bring our kids back into focus? We need to make sure the kids are a priority in our education discussions. I’m not the polished politician that comes up with lines. I was on the Doernbecher Children’s Hospital Foundation board, and I have a passion for kids. I just have a passion for the children. I’m interested in truly keeping them as a priority for us. I would rather meet with teachers directly, and I want to hear what the challenges are in the classroom. I would spend a day in the classroom to shadow teachers. I would more than enjoy that.”

Hoff said he’s been watching the outcome of the McCleary legislative fixes, and said he’s concerned about the impact, but says it’s too soon to draw conclusions.


“I’m not an expert on McCleary, but the legislation has been put to bed and blessed by the Supreme Court, and there will be course adjustments. I’m not sure the ship has sailed enough to make dramatic course adjustments. When the school districts feel there is an inequity they will address what they feel needs to be done — and we will listen.”

“The alternatives are the school district will ask for more money. Increasing taxes is not a good option. They will have to look at cost cutting. They will also see how this course proceeds and then make legislative adjustments. The levies are cut. I’m not sure now is the time to make dramatic moves. The influx of cash for has been drained through these last union negotiations. I would imagine the unions and districts have to see what is the longevity of this plan. I don’t see the children being mentioned a lot. We have to ask ourselves: ‘In all of these discussions what does that mean to the kids?’”

He said if he wins the seat, his objective will be to listen than to throw out political rhetoric, and will listen to the districts and see what’s been done in the past.

“I will understand the challenges and will listen to all sides. Right now, I believe the legislation has been enacted and we need to see how it plays out. I’m not the type of candidate that will sit here and promise you I have the silver bullet, but I can promise you is that I will lead us in the right direction.”


Hoff is a big advocate of education.

Balanced Budget

“It’s not what you make, it’s what you spend,” said Hoff. “It’s a simple, but profound statement. The legislature needs to practice good financial practices — and they’re not. There’s no more appetite from the public for anymore tax increases. The Legislature has to live within its means.”

Small Business Support

Hoff has worked in small businesses for 35 years, and he sees the challenges they face.

“I’ve seen what regulations and taxes do to small businesses — L&I, B&O taxes, environment and all of the challenges builders have with those regulations are astronomical.”

He promises to be an advocate for small business.


“We have to apply common sense to the transportation issues we face, and figure out the congestion/bridge issue, and we in the Legislature need to assist in that. Congestion, in general, is really bad on the Oregon side. We need to seriously discuss the topic of adding more bridges. We need to make decisions that are more than just answer today’s issues. I imagine the I-5 bridge issue is the most fixable one. You can replace it to eliminate some sense of congestion. But, if we don’t start making decisions for 20-30 years out we will fail the future. We failed 20 years ago when we didn’t make key decisions then.”


He did address the concerns he hears from school districts about the growing school levy issue.

“The people are justifiably concerned about this levy swap but it was a Supreme Court edict that attempted to equalize the funding model,” said Hoff. “The legislature crafted the legislation and it is now the law of the land. We understand there might be some course correction somewhere. I’m struggling with the course corrections before the ship even sails. Course corrections are increased taxes or decreased costs. School districts will come with several solutions. If indeed they recognize that there are some inequities they will present those to us.”

He’s taking a listen and learn approach.

“We make a mistake if we forget about listening and learning,” said Hoff. “I’m struck with the fact that McCleary has yet to be fully implemented, and we’re already wrestling with changes. It just seems to me that the Legislature did their work, and the Supreme Court did their work, and now we’ll see if their policy becomes as successful as anticipated.”

Hoff said he will look out for the taxpayer at every turn.

“We have to find other ways to resolve these financial issues,” he said “It’s always on the backs of the citizens. The Democrats want a state income tax. That’s not a good option.”


Hoff has lived in the 18th district for over 40 years where he and his wife, Renee, raised their son, Tracy. Their son and their daughter-in-law, Helen, have one son, named Preston. Hoff grew up in a small North Dakota town where he worked on neighboring farms. After high school, he proudly served in the U.S. Navy, and after serving he obtained a degree in accounting from the University of North Dakota. Shortly after, Larry and Renee moved to Clark County, where he joined the Credit Union industry and attained the position of Interim President at Columbia Credit Union. He continued to dedicate a career to growing the financial health of the community, recently retiring as President/CEO of the $1 billion Fibre Federal Credit Union, after having left the credit union through 15 years of solid growth and expanded service offerings.

“I retired on January 1, 2017 and to tell you the truth I didn’t feel like I was contributing in retirement,” said Hoff. “I was searching for a purpose. I love my family and they keep me busy and fulfilled, but I wasn’t giving back to the community as I wanted to, and I learned Liz was retiring, and the position was open, so here I am.”

Is there a blue wave in Washington state?

Data from the primaries show a blue wave is coming, and that the GOP is worried about losing typically safe seats, including LD 18, Position 2.

“We were surprised by the primary results,” said Hoff. “Our effort is to work on promoting the positive parts of what we believe in — and working hard at talking to folks. I’m on the streets every day. I’m getting people to know who I am. I’ve called and knocked on 3,000 doors. We now have teams going on, and that will quadruple.”

We will feature Hoff’s opponent, Kathy Gillespie, a Democrat, on Wednesday.

Washougal, WA — The Washougal mayoral race came to an end today as City Councilman, Dan Coursey, conceded the race to Molly Coston.

By this afternoon, Coston had received 1,574 votes (54.39%) and Coursey received 1,230 votes (42.5%). Paul Godin, a write-in candidate, received 90 votes (3.11 %).

“As most people probably know I have been trailing in this race since election night, said Coursey. “Currently there is a 344 vote difference and we probably won’t be able to cover that with the few ballots left to count.”

“I have called Molly Coston and congratulated her as Washougal’s new Mayor. It was a hard-fought campaign on both sides, but I look forward to working with Molly, and for great things to happen here in Washougal under her leadership. Washougal is a great place and there will be opportunities to make things better in the future. I will cheer our new City Mayor on and help as best as I am able.”

“There aren’t words adequate to thank my many supporters and those that voted for me. I have been just blown away by all the kind help that everyone has provided. I sincerely appreciate you all.”

Coursey will continue to serve on the Washougal City Council. He has half way through a two-year term.

Coston will be sworn in on January 1 at City Hall.

“I am honored to be the voter’s choice for Mayor in Washougal,” said Coston. “I’m already working to become more informed, going through the 2018 budget, and have scheduled meetings with department heads and Mayor Guard. I’ll work hard to keep the trust and respect of council and staff throughout the new year, and reach out to collaborate with local agencies.”

On election night, Coston said she will also work to combat the homeless problem in Washougal.

“I really am honored that enough people voted for me — since I’m a newcomer,” said Julie Russell, who also won a Washougal City Council seat. “I’ll work with those who have been elected. We all have the same goals to support Washougal. Let’s work together to form a good relationship.”

Russell said she and Coston, as well as other newly elected officials, will start training for newly elected officials on December 2 in Vancouver.



Molly Coston, left, with friends and volunteers at her election night party.

Washougal, WA — The Washougal city mayoral race between Molly Coston and Dan Coursey didn’t have a definitive ending on election night with neither candidate claiming victory or conceding the surprisingly dramatic race.

Early results from the Clark County Elections Office show Coston with 1,091 votes (54.31%), Coursey with 848 votes (42.21%), and write-in Paul Godin with 70 votes (3.48%). Total vote count to-date is 2,009. Two-hundred-forty-eight votes separate Coursey and Coston.

Tuesday’s official results don’t factor ballots mailed in or dropped off on election day.

Coston campaign surrogate and Washougal city councilman, Brent Boger, is claiming victory for his preferred candidate. “It’s a solid win for Washougal,” he said. “Molly has the experience. When she took over briefly for Stacy Sellars as temporary mayor she handled the job very well. She fit in extremely well.”

State Representative Liz Pike, and Coursey supporter, has a different perspective.

“Only 248 votes separate the two candidates,” she said. “Republicans typically wait to send in their ballots, and those numbers will be reflected on Wednesday with the next update, and then with Thursday’s update. It’s not over.”


From left: City councilman Dan Coursey, Neil Cahoon, Ray Kuta, and State Representative Liz Pike.

When official numbers were made public after 8 pm Tuesday the Coursey camp was still optimistic.

“I thought the campaign would be a quiet affair,” said Coursey. “I didn’t know this would be so loud. I’m so glad all my friends stuck with me. I’ve knocked on over 3,000 doors, and each family has a different story. I’ve enjoyed getting to know the people of Washougal.”

Coston filed to run at the last possible moment, and she said the race has been a challenging one.

“I jumped in with both feet,” Coston said. “I had a team that pushed me; that mentored me, and I really enjoyed door knocking. That was my stress reliever. I really loved talking to everyone. I’ve watched politics for a long time, and I really felt this was the right time to get in. Right now, we’re cautiously optimistic.”

Each candidate spelled out what they’ll do first if elected, and we’ll post those plans when a winner is officially declared.

Julie Russell won her Washougal city council race against Adam Philbin, 55.7% to 44.3%.

“I’m very honored the voters of Washougal voted for me,” Russell said. “I’m happy to work with whoever is elected to make this a better community.”

Camas Election Night Results

  • Melissa Smith defeated her opponent, Emilia Brasier, for Camas city council.
  • Steven Hogan won his race for Camas city council. He ran unopposed.
  • Shannon Turk won her race for Camas city council. She ran unopposed.
  • Casey O’Dell won re-election to the Camas School Board. He ran unopposed.
  • Julie Rotz won her race for Camas School Board. She ran unopposed.
  • Tracey Malon won her race for Camas School Board. She ran unopposed.
  • John Spencer won his race against Mark Forbes for Port of Camas-Washougal Commissioner.
  • Larry Kessler won his race against Adam Parsley for Port of Camas-Washougal Commissioner.

Other Washougal Election Night Results

  • Brent Boger won his race for Washougal city council. He ran unopposed.
  • Paul Greenlee won his race for Washougal city council. He ran unopposed.
  • Raymond Kutch won his race for Washougal city council. He ran unopposed.
  • Julie Russell won her race for Washougal city council against Adam Philbin.
  • Donna Sinclair won her School Board race against Jaron Barney.
  • Cory Chase won his race for School Board.
  • Ron Dinius won his race for School Board.

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Election Night Images

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Washougal, WA — With just a few weeks left in the 2017 political campaign season, candidate Julie Russell continues her campaign for the Washougal City Council seat being vacated by the retiring Dave Shoemaker.

Over the past few months, she’s knocked many doors, gone through hip replacement surgery, and attend public forums to discuss her positions. Health wise, she’s recovered from her surgery and enjoys meeting with local residents.

So, what are the top reasons she’s running?

“I’ve always liked serving and making the community a better place,” says Russell. “Plus, I think we need to look at all options to address high utility bills, and do better community planning.”

The high cost of water is a hot topic among Washougal residents.

“So many struggle with high water bills,” said Russell. “I’ve met residents who re-use dishwater just to make ends meet.”

The city made some errors in the past, she said, in dealing with sewer systems.

“They didn’t upgrade sewer facilities in time and fell past state-mandated timelines so they had to build a costly system to keep the sewer safe and sanitary,” Russell said. “We’re currently using reserve funds to pay those bonds.  One option to address is to possibly merge with Camas or Clark County to provide a better water sewer and water.”

She also wants  to look at making improvements to blighted areas in Washougal.


Julie Russell is married to Evan Russell, and they have four children.

“There are areas where clearly code isn’t being enforced, so we need to do that,” she said. “Let’s get grants or set up volunteer community projects to clean up blighted property and spaces. Let’s work together to make these areas look better.”

She also wants to spend time on economic development, and do more to attract and keep businesses.

“The process to onboard new businesses needs to be streamlined so it’s easier to do business in Washougal,” she said.

Russell is running against Adam Philbin. We plan to feature his views in a future article.

Russell also has the endorsement of four of seven incumbent Washougal city councilors:

  • Dan Coursey
  • Dave Shoemaker
  • Michelle Wagner
  • Ray Kutch

Russell’s Background


  • George Fox University, M.A.  Master of Arts in Marriage, Couples and Family Therapy – 2012
  • Brigham Young University, B.S. Bachelor of Science in Psychology, AS Associate of Science in Travel and Tourism – 1983

Career Highlights

  • Julie Russell Family Counseling; LMFT, LPC, LMHC, RPT, Self-employed/Owner/Operator.  Offices in Tigard and Vancouver; 2013 – Present
  • LDS Family Services – Therapist, Adoption and Children’s Services; 2008 – 2013
  • Open House Ministries; 2011 – 2012
  • Avanti Destinations – Quality Control, Contract Management; 2001 – 2004

Prior Government Experience

  • Tigard Water District Commissioner, Elected Position – July 2007  to Nov. 2016
  • West Bull Mountain Planning Technical Advisory Committee – March 2012 to Nov. 2014
  • Chair-Washington County Citizen Participation Organization (CPO-4B)- Jan. 2008- Nov. 2016
  • Vice Chair-Washington County Citizen Participation Organization (CPO-4B)-July 2005-Jan. 2008
  • City of Tigard, White Paper Parks Committee – 2004

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