More than 35 candidates from local small cities file for office

By Tyler Graf, Columbian county government reporter

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A former police chief, a formal-attire company owner and a man who says he was unfairly fired from his city job are among an eclectic batch of small-city candidates looking to unseat incumbents during this year's election.

In all, more than 35 candidates from small cities had filed with the Clark County Elections Office by Friday evening.

Some of the names are familiar ones.

In Camas, Ken Kakuk, a former GIS coordinator for the city who ran for city council in 2011, will face incumbent Steven Hogan.

Camas fired Kakuk in 2011 following a series of what supervisors considered disruptive incidents, including drawing a "gory" picture that one co-worker felt was threatening.

Kakuk denies the allegations and says he was fired unfairly.

As a councilman, Kakuk said he'd stand up for city employees and residents.

"I think the city could do a better job listening to people," he said.

Elsewhere in Camas, challenger Vanessa Amundson, a 14-year resident of the city, will face Councilwoman Melissa Smith.

In Battle Ground, second-time council candidate Mike Dalesandro, an operations manager for a logistics company, will run against Mayor Lisa Walters. In Battle Ground, as in Ridgefield, council members elect a mayor, so Walters filed just as a councilor. She initially filed for city council Position No. 4, then withdrew and filed for Position No. 5. Councilor Alex Reinhold had initially filed for Position No. 5, but withdrew Friday and filed for Position No. 4.

Reinhold will face challenger Chris Regan.

Dalesandro previously ran for city council in 2009.

There will be two other contested races in Battle Ground.

Challengers Richard Brown, Cherish L. DesRochers and Lyle Lamb will challenge Councilor Mike Ciraulo, while Steven Douglas Phelps will run against Councilor Bill Ganley.

In La Center, three candidates will vie for city council Position No. 2.

Tim Hopkin, La Center's former police chief, and Nathan Stokes, a self-employed estimator and project manager, will run against incumbent and Mayor Pro Tem Al Luiz.

Hopkin retired from his position last summer after spending 27 years with the city. His retirement followed a performance audit that was critical of leadership at the La Center Police Department.

When he announced in March his intention to run, he said he wanted to continue contributing to the city.

Stokes, a seven-year La Center resident, said he decided to run so he could "represent the younger demographics" of the city.

In Ridgefield, Linda Tracy, owner of A Formal Affair, will run against Sandra Day, one of the city's two new councilors. Day and Councilman John Main joined the Ridgefield City Council after it expanded from five to seven seats in September.

Tracy is no stranger to elected politics.

She previously served on the La Center City Council, from 2004 until 2012.

"I just really like being involved in my community," Tracy said.

Meanwhile, Washougal Mayor Sean Guard will face a challenge from Earl Scott, a captain with the fire department. Councilor Paul Greenlee received two opponents late Friday, Lisa D. Voeltz and George Kolin. Rodney P. Morris filed against Councilor Dave Shoemaker.

In Woodland, Mayor Pro Tem John Burke did not file for re-election, and Jennifer Heffernan filed for his seat.

Tyler Graf: 360-735-4517; http://www.twitter.com/col_smallcities;tyler.graf@columbian.com.