Challengers in Camas mayor, council races looking to shake up government

Opponents’ goals include economic development

By Laura McVicker, Columbian staff writer

Published:

 

A former city employee who was fired from his job is looking to unseat the recently appointed Camas mayor, while a resident known for her opposition to local government projects is challenging a Camas city councilwoman.

The theme in both races among the new challengers is a goal to shake up government.

Mayoral candidate Ken Kakuk, who was fired in June from his position as the city’s Geographic Information System coordinator, is seeking “transparent and open government.”

“This is easily accomplished and should have been a priority long ago,” Kakuk said in a candidate questionnaire. “Citizens should be able to access critical information easily on the Internet in a timely manner without digging, filling out request forms and then paying for the information.”

Kakuk said he also wants to implement an ethics policy for city officials and to increase employment opportunities.

He was terminated for insubordination because of his apparent lack of cooperation in a work-ordered mental exam, according to his discipline file.

The mental exam was ordered after a series of alleged disruptive incidents in which city officials claimed Kakuk was hostile and threatening to co-workers. Kakuk entered the mayoral race seven days before receiving his termination notice. In a recent interview, he said the allegations in his personnel file are “false” and “trumped up.”

Mayor Scott Higgins, who was appointed to the post in June, plans to continue focusing on economic development, look for ways to maintain emergency and fire services, and closely monitor city finances, he said in a candidate questionnaire.

“We constantly monitor our budget and will continue to do so,” Higgins stated. “In this crisis, the city has been able to maintain most of its core services without raising costs to the citizens.”

Prior to appointment as mayor, Higgins served on the Camas City Council for nine years. He has secured endorsements from councilors, four members of the Camas School Board and several local politicians, including U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Camas.

The mayoral position pays $1,300 a month.

City council race

Margaret Tweet, who is known publicly for her opposition to light rail, is vying to replace City Councilwoman Shannon Turk.

Turk has served on the Camas City Council since July. She is a graduate of Leadership Clark County and has been involved with the City of Camas Board of Adjustment and Camas School District Citizen Advisory Committee.

Like Kakuk’s, Tweet’s platform is to bring ethics and transparency to the post, she wrote in a candidate questionnaire. She listed the Columbia River Crossing project as an example where transparency is needed.

“The Camas and Washougal, C-Tran and regional transportation representatives voted for light rail on a replacement Interstate 5 bridge without open public discussion or direction from the full city councils, or a public hearing,” Tweet said. “The Columbia River Crossing project … warrants local open discussion, council votes, and local public hearings prior to C-Tran decisions on the largest regional transportation project in decades.”

Turk, on the other hand, said her top goals in the position were financial stability, economic development and partnerships with other local service providers.

“As expenses continue to outpace revenues, the city needs to address providing services with limited resources, possibly creating a separate taxing district within the city for parks services that citizens would be allowed to vote on,” Turk said in the candidate questionnaire. “I support the city’s efforts to remain a full-service city.”

The council position pays $500 a month.

Camas Mayor

Scott Higgins.

• Age: 39.

• Background: Higgins was a Camas city councilman from 2002 until May of this year. In June, he was appointed mayor. He’s also a member of the Camas Lions Club and has been involved in city and school district projects.

• Funds raised: $5,800.

• Endorsements: All current Camas City councilors; four Camas school board members; Clark County commissioners Steve Stuart and Marc Boldt; U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Camas; state Sen. Craig Pridemore, D-Vancouver; state Sen. Joe Zarelli, R-Ridgefield; state Rep. Ann Rivers, R-La Center; and the Building Industry Association of Clark County and Clark County Association of Realtors.

Ken Kakuk.

• Age: 51.

• Background: Kakuk has volunteered for the Grass Valley Park Design Committee, helped build the Skyridge Middle School weight training room and has done database work for the Camas Downtown Association.

• Funds raised: $200.

• Endorsements: None.

Camas City Council Ward 3, Position 2

Margaret Tweet.

• Age: 50.

• Background: Tweet has served on the Grass Valley Park Citizen Committee and Prune Hill Elementary School planning group. From 2008 to 2010, she served as a local homeowners association board member and was part of a landscape committee for five years.

• Funds raised: $1,360.

• Endorsements: None.

Shannon Turk.

• Age: 41.

• Background: Turk, a management analyst, has served on the Camas City Council since July. Among other organizations, Turk was part of the Leadership Clark County Class of 2010, served on the City of Camas Board of Adjustment from 2003 this year and the Camas School District Citizen Advisory Committee from 2004 to 2008. She is also involved with the West Columbia Gorge Humane Society and is a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA).

• Funds raised: None.

• Endorsements: None.

Laura McVicker: www.twitter.com/col_courts; www.facebook.com/reportermcvicker; laura.mcvicker@columbian.com; 360-735-4516.