Four Washougal City Council incumbents face challenges

By Ray Legendre, Columbian staff writer


photoJoyce Lindsay
photoMolly Coston

Washougal City Council Candidates

Caryn Plinski

Age: 36.

Background: Stay-at-home mom and future sales director with Mary Kay Cosmetics, Grace FourSquare Church member.

Money raised: $0.

Major endorsements: N/A.

Website/social media: None.

Rod Morris

Age: 56.

Background: Retired, volunteer firefighter.

Money raised: $0.

Major endorsements: N/A.

Website/social media: None.

Joyce Lindsay

Age: 72.

Background: Retired former co-owner of Lindsay’s Flowers, Camas/Washougal Rotary Club member, vice-president of Columbia Gorge Women’s Association, served on the Washougal Stormwater Advisory Committee.

Money raised: $7,642.69.

Major endorsements: U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., state Sen. Darlene Fairley, state Sen. Adam Kline, Washougal Mayor Sean Guard, Camas and Washougal Professional Firefighters, etc.

Website/social media:

Michael Delavar

Age: 38.

Background: Airline captain, one-time congressional candidate, member of Gateway Community Church.

Money raised: $3,129.34.

Major endorsements: Washington Citizens For Responsible Government, Bilding Industry Association of Clark County, Citizens Alliance for Property Rights.

Website/social media: www.michaeldelava...

Niki Anderson

Age: 36.

Background: Clark County sheriff’s custody officer, assistant middle school volleyball and basketball coach, involved in the Alzheimer’s Association and Stepping Stones program.

Money raised: $1,300.

Major endorsements: City workers union (Battle Ground).

Website/social media: None.

Jennifer McDaniel

Age: 45.

Background: Office administrator, Washougal mayor pro-tem, finance committee member, school board liaison, ethics policy and review committee, vice president for Washougal Schools Foundation, delivery driver for Meals on Wheels, leader for St. Anne’s Episcopal Church’s mission team.

Money raised: $700.

Major endorsements: Washougal Councilman Dave Shoemaker, Vancouver Councilwoman Jeanne Stewart, Camas-Washougal Port Commissioner Bill Macrae-Smith.

Website/social media: www.electJennifer...

Molly Coston

Age: 63.

Background: Retired senior project manager at Nortel Networks, president-elect Camas-Washougal Rotary Club, past president League of Women Voters of Clark County, director of board of directors of Regional Transportation Council, senior advisor for Washougal High School Interact Club, active at St. Anne’s Episcopal Church.

Money raised: $4,609.69.

Major endorsements: Camas Councilwoman Linda Dietzman, Washougal Mayor Sean Guard, former Vancouver Mayor Royce Pollard, Washougal Councilman Paul Greenlee, Camas Councilman Steve Hogan.

Website/social media: www.mollycoston.c...

Connie Jo Freeman

Age: 59.

Background: School bus driver (Camas), office manager for Jon Russell for Congress Committee, Christian Chamber of Commerce of the Northwest, Living Hope Church women’s ministry.

Money raised: $0.

Major endorsements: Washougal Councilman Jon Russell, former Washougal council candidate Hugh Roberts, Vancouver council candidate Josephine Wentzel.

Website/social media: None.

Three Washougal council incumbents will attempt to capitalize on momentum they gained in August’s primary election, while a fourth incumbent will look to defeat a well-funded challenger in the Nov. 8 general election.

Washougal council members Rod Morris, Jennifer McDaniel and Molly Coston each finished as the top vote-getters in their respective primary races, but none garnered more than 50 percent of the vote. Fellow member Michael Delavar automatically qualified for the general election because he had only one opponent, Joyce Lindsay.

With more than half the council up for re-election, Washougal voters will have a chance this fall to reaffirm their confidence in their city’s leadership or look elsewhere.

Candidates must earn a simple majority, or 50 percent plus 1, of the vote to win a four-year term.


Morris, the council’s longest tenured member, bested three challengers to reach the general election, but the 56-year-old’s work is far from done.

Morris received 626 votes, or 36.87 percent, outpacing Caryn Plinski, who had 474 votes, or 27.92 percent. Mike Moreau and George Kolin, the third- and fourth-place finishers, totaled more than 35 percent of the vote combined.

Morris has served on the Washougal council nearly 19 years and the Washougal Fire Department as a volunteer firefighter for more than 30 years. Among his chief objectives are working on the Camas-Washougal Economic Development Association, balancing the city’s budget and maintaining EMS services.

Plinski’s top two issues — economic development and fiscal responsibility — are similar to Morris’. The 35-year-old mother of three young sons also desires to see increased collaboration between Washougal and its school system to find mutual cost savings.


Delavar, 38, has held his seat since 2009, when he was first appointed and then elected by voters. His challenge in this year’s race is defeating a well-funded challenger, the 72-year-old Lindsay, who has raised more than twice as much money and garnered endorsements from a U.S. senator, multiple state senators and Washougal Mayor Sean Guard.

Delavar’s top three issues are fiscal responsibility, economic vitality and transparency in government.

To create economic prosperity, Delavar advocates lowering barriers that discourage business startups and re-examining the city’s outdated sign code. He also supports placing the city’s budget in an “easy to read” format on its website.

Lindsay’s chief issues are supporting the Camas-Washougal Economic Development Association to broaden Washougal’s business community, encouraging local activities and civic improvements that enhance the city’s sense of community, and preserving and maintaining the city’s emergency response capabilities.


If the primary results hold to form, McDaniel will need to gain a small percentage of votes in order to keep the seat she has held since 2008.

In the primary, McDaniel, 45, tallied 845 votes, or 49.82 percent, despite Guard’s vocal support for her challenger, Niki Anderson. Anderson, 36, finished second with 634 votes, or 37.38 percent, and Mark Rohr finished a distant third.

Maintaining a balanced budget, improving infrastructure, such as sidewalks, and increasing transparency in government are the issues McDaniel believes are most important.

Anderson’s campaign priorities are public safety, jobs and a railroad crossing to ease commuter congestion when trains pass.


In what could be the closest race, Molly Coston, 63, will go head-to-head with Connie Jo Freeman, a candidate backed by Coston’s fellow council member Jon Russell.

Coston earned 665 votes, or 38.82 percent, in the primary, besting Freeman, who had 573 votes, or 33.45 percent. Fellow challenger Hugh Roberts, who notched almost 28 percent of the primary vote, endorsed Freeman afterward.

Coston, who has held the office since 2005, lists Washougal’s budget, attracting and retaining businesses and preserving Washougal’s small town charm as her top priorities.

Freeman, 59, previously acted as office manager for Russell’s unsuccessful run for Congress. Washougal needs to cut taxes to stimulate business, preserve financial reserves for emergencies only and spend responsibly on public safety and sidewalk projects for school zones, she said.