Incumbent Molly Coston to face Connie Jo Freeman for Position No. 7

Washougal City Council candidates' top issues include public safety and financial concerns

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Molly Coston

Education: University of Arizona, double major in organic chemistry and biology

Community Involvement: President elect of Camas-Washougal Rotary Club; Past president of the League of Women Voters of Clark County; Director representing East Clark County Regional Transportation Council Board of Directors; Director representing East Clark County Community Action Advisory Board; Senior Rotary advisor for the Washougal High School Interact Club; Recipient of a Community Leadership Award from the Washington Association of School Administrators, for leadership in the 2005 Washougal schools successful levies; an advanced certificate of municipal leadership from the Association of Washington Cities, and active at St. Anne's Episcopal Church, in Washougal.

Phone: 903-7912

Email: MollyCoston@gmail.com

Website: www.mollycoston.com

Connie Jo Freeman

Education: Bachelor's degree in theology at Southern California Community Bible College

Community Involvement: Volunteer with "Compassion C/W," providing free monthly medical services at Bethel Community Church, in Washougal; volunteer with Living Hope Church medical team to Haiti (February 2011); member of the Christian Chamber of Commerce of the Northwest; member of River Rock Church in Camas, volunteer for 40 Days for Life and member of Christ At Work.

Phone: 210-7096

Email: conniejofreeman@conniejoforcouncil.com

Website: www.conniejoforcouncil.com

Molly Coston

Education: University of Arizona, double major in organic chemistry and biology

Community Involvement: President elect of Camas-Washougal Rotary Club; Past president of the League of Women Voters of Clark County; Director representing East Clark County Regional Transportation Council Board of Directors; Director representing East Clark County Community Action Advisory Board; Senior Rotary advisor for the Washougal High School Interact Club; Recipient of a Community Leadership Award from the Washington Association of School Administrators, for leadership in the 2005 Washougal schools successful levies; an advanced certificate of municipal leadership from the Association of Washington Cities, and active at St. Anne’s Episcopal Church, in Washougal.

Phone: 903-7912

Email: MollyCoston@gmail.com

Website: www.mollycoston.com

Connie Jo Freeman

Education: Bachelor’s degree in theology at Southern California Community Bible College

Community Involvement: Volunteer with “Compassion C/W,” providing free monthly medical services at Bethel Community Church, in Washougal; volunteer with Living Hope Church medical team to Haiti (February 2011); member of the Christian Chamber of Commerce of the Northwest; member of River Rock Church in Camas, volunteer for 40 Days for Life and member of Christ At Work.

Phone: 210-7096

Email: conniejofreeman@conniejoforcouncil.com

Website: www.conniejoforcouncil.com

The main issues of concern for Washougal City Council woman Molly Coston and her challenger Connie Jo Freeman have some similarities, but they do not overlap too often.

In a recent interview, Coston mentioned projecting the city’s budget over the next three to five years — with declining revenue and increasing expenditures –will be a challenge, along with prioritizing what is non-essential.

“It will be painful,” she said, while also referring to cuts that are already being made in some of the social service programs in Clark County.

Freeman said she favors spending responsibly on necessities with transparency.

“As an observer [of the City Council], it seems a lot of decisions have been ‘buy now, pay later’ or maybe take money from state grants,” she said. “The state is broke and our federal government is broke, but we keep wanting to take grants.”

Freeman referred to the perspective that if the city of Washougal does not take the state or federal money, then it will be awarded to other cities.

“Stop the spending on non-necessities,” she added, referring to the “E” Street improvements and construction of the pedestrian tunnel near Pendleton Woolen Mills.

Coston said she supports the trial merger of the Washougal and Camas fire departments, as well as having an ambulance located in a Washougal Fire station.

“We have to have the service,” she said. “The demographics of Clark County — according to the Aging Readiness Task Force — in 20 years there will be a huge increase in retirees. There will be more of a need for EMS then.”

Freeman said she is excited about the partnership with the WFD and CFD, which is already showing some savings in overtime costs.

She favors fully funding the police department for public safety.

“I’m a mother,” Freeman said. “I’ve been an educator for years, and I’ve been around teens. There are lots of drugs in Washougal. I want to give the police the tools they need to stop this.

“I moved from L.A. County, California, to a small town, and this is where my son finds out about drugs — in a public school,” she added. “It broke my heart.”

Coston said she would like to “keep Washougal special.”

“We have an awful lot of natural resources that are really remarkable,” she said. “They are reasons people move here — clean air and water, relatively easy access to Portland, the airport, remarkably easy access to the Washougal River, the Columbia River and the gorge.”

Coston also mentioned hiking and biking opportunities that are available in Washougal.

Freeman said one of her top issues is boosting economic recovery for the community.

She suggests the city “lighten up burdensome impact fees and regulations” for builders.

“We have to continue to entice businesses here, by having good competition with other cities,” Freeman said. “Our taxes and fees for businesses need to be very competitive with neighboring cities.”

Coston said Washougal city staff has already done several things to attract companies to Washougal, including lowering impact fees and initiating a streamlined permitting process.

“I don’t think cities can really create jobs,” she said. “They can make it enticing for businesses to locate. That’s why an entity such as the Camas-Washougal Economic Development Association is essential. That is the function — to bring those people to us.”

Freeman said she is expecting great things from CWEDA.

“I know it’s brand new,” she said. “I don’t know yet how it’s going to look, but they voted it in, so let’s see what really wonderful things can happen there.

“Washougal has to find opportunities to create goods and services,” Freeman added. “Our whole nation has turned to outsourcing to other countries, and now our manufacturing has gone downhill nationwide. Washougal has all this space. No more outsourcing. Let’s bring the stream of goods and services to town.”

Freeman would favor having a diamond interchange built off of state Route 14 at 27th Street over railroad tracks, for more access to the Port of Camas-Washougal Industrial Park and other businesses.

The interchange would also relieve some of the “bottleneck” traffic on 32nd Street, she added.

Coston, 63, is a retired senior project manager for Nortel Networks, while Freeman, 59, is a bus driver for the Camas School District.