Ex-police chief to be next Woodland mayor

By Kathie Durbin, Columbian staff writer

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Former Woodland police chief Grover Laseke appeared to be defeating Woodland city councilman J.J. Burke Tuesday to win the city’s mayoral race. In partial results, Laseke held a lead of 439 to 276 in the contest to succeed Mayor Chuck Blum, who did not seek re-election.

“I think we were successful because we ran a good clean campaign that stuck to the issues,” Laseke said by cell phone as he wasted no time in collecting his lawn signs Tuesday night. What people want to see is more civility on the city council, more efficiency in city operations, and closer communication with citizens, he said.

As the city’s former police chief, Laseke said he was pleased that voters approved a 0.1 percentage point increase in the city’s sales and use tax to build a new public safety building. It will replace the city’s inadequate 1970s-era jail.

“I was supportive of the police station from the beginning,” he said. “We started on that process in the late 1990s. I put a lot of my political capital into that process.”

The tax measure, which was passing 388-316, would enable the city to borrow $2 million in construction bonds for a new police station, to be repaid over 25 years. A portion of the proceeds would be split between Cowlitz and Clark counties to fund drug enforcement or other public safety programs.

Laseke said he was looking forward to sitting down with the city council, including two new members elected Tuesday night, “to forge a good solid working relationship.”

“They’re all good people and they want to see a change also,” he said. Blum had been criticized for contentious relations with the council.

In the race for Position 4, Marshall Allen, a retired aircraft mechanic, was beating Woodland Fire Chief Tony Brentin 432 to 225.

The race for Position 7 was closer; retired repairman Robert Ripp was leading retired real estate broker Scott Perry by 21 votes, 338 to 317.