The Camas City Council will choose between two widely divergent candidates when it appoints a new mayor Monday night.
Council members will interview Camas Mayor Pro Tem Scott Higgins and retired bookkeeper Kim Seaton Thies and then appoint one for a six-month mayoral term. The Camas mayoral seat will be up for grabs again in November’s election.
Longtime Camas Mayor Paul Dennis resigned earlier this month after serving more than seven years to head the Camas-Washougal Economic Development Association. The deadline to apply for the mayor’s appointment was Tuesday.
Higgins has served as acting mayor since June 1 by virtue of his mayor pro tem designation. He will run for a four-year term as mayor in the fall against Ken Kakuk.
Higgins said he expected the council to be thorough in coming to its decision.
“It will be a very formal thing,” he said. “We all know each other but I think everybody will be cautious and make sure everything is done by the book.”
Thies called her bid “a spur of the moment decision” and admitted she did not know why Dennis vacated his seat.
“I don’t know if he resigned. I don’t know if he moved. I don’t know if he got sick or it was any of the above,” she conceded.
Other differences between Higgins and Thies are vast.
Higgins, a minister at Hockinson Church of Christ, grew up in Camas and has served on the city council for almost 10 years. His knowledge of the community and government experience make him the ideal choice to become the city’s next mayor, he said.
Thies moved to Camas 17 months ago and has no elected experience in the city. She served on the Silver Lake Community Council in Everett for 10 years, according to her résumé.
The candidates’ letters to the council also reflected different approaches.
Higgins’ letter to the council enclosed in his application packet focused largely on the pride he had in being a Camas native and raising his two daughters there.
“My plan is to provide my kids with the same joys of childhood that can only uniquely be experienced in Camas,” he wrote.
Thies’ letter to the council focused on her interest in local government.
“I find the process invigorating and I enjoy effecting positive change in the community,” she wrote.
Each candidate answered three supplemental questions dealing with their vision for Camas, how they propose addressing budgetary difficulties and how they believe the city should address “transparency in government” issues.
Higgins fleshed his thoughts out in sentences. Thies favored short, fragmented answers reminiscent of those that would appear in a slide show.
Higgins’ vision included a review of and focus on technology infrastructure and building partnerships with other cities and organization. He favored caution with respect to the city’s budget and recommended broadcasting council meeting on the Internet to improve transparency.
Thies’ vision include building a community with studio/apprentice programs and storefronts, boosting tourist trade and utilizing existing empty space. She recommended prioritizing expenditures and looking to the community for involvement in creating budget solutions. She favored “news releases” to inform the public of important city-related happenings.