Guard appears to win second term as Washougal mayor

Bid to create city manager form of government fails

By Tyler Graf, Columbian county government reporter

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If Tuesday's general election numbers hold, Mayor Sean Guard will become a member of a rare breed — a Washougal mayor who appears to have won a second term.

He did so even as two separate campaigns worked to unseat him. Not only was he running against a challenger, fire Capt. Earl Scott, but also a proposition that, if approved, would have done away with the mayor's position altogether.

Guard appears to have come out unscathed on both fronts, as a measure to create a city manager form of government was overwhelmingly defeated.

Unofficial results show Guard won the election with 53.2 percent of the vote to Scott's 46.1 percent.

In a statement released Tuesday night, Guard said he was eager to see whether his lead would hold in the days to come. Clark County will release a second vote count this afternoon.

"The next few days will show if that lead continues," Guard said in the statement. "I am obviously very optimistic and hopeful that it does, as we have worked very hard to bring successes to Washougal in a very difficult and short four years, and I look forward to being able to continue those success stories."

Second terms aren't easy to come by in Washougal.

In 2009, Guard defeated a one-term mayor, Stacee Sellers, who was fighting scandals by the end of her four years. In 2005, she ousted one-term Mayor Jeff Guard, the current mayor's brother.

Charles Crumpacker, who was mayor from 1992 to 2001, was the last one to serve multiple terms. Before that, the city had an even worse track record of holding onto mayors. Between 1980 and 1992, the city had five different mayors.

Guard's term wasn't spotless. It was, at times, marred by missteps, including one that led to his 2011 guilty plea to a gross misdemeanor of impersonating a police officer.

Guard maintains, and court records show, the guilty plea came under protest. Guard has always disputed the facts of the case -- that he flashed the front-mounted police lights on a city-owned vehicle.

Complicating matters this year was Proposition 1.

That would have changed Washougal's government from a mayor-council to a council-manager form, weakening the position of the mayor and installing a city manager to oversee day-to-day operations of city departments.

It failed by a sizable margin, with 63.7 percent of voters rejecting it. If it had passed, it would have made the mayoral election moot because under a weak-mayor form of government, the mayor is appointed from within city council.

Councilwoman Joyce Lindsay, the council's top proponent for Proposition 1, said she was disappointed by the defeat and chalked it up to a combination of factors, including low voter turnout and the complexity of the proposition.

"We were all elected to do a job," Lindsay said, "and we will all step up and make sure we take care of city business."

In other council races, incumbents retained their seats.

Councilman Paul Greenlee defeated Lisa Voeltz, 54.3 percent to 45 percent.

Meanwhile, Councilman David Shoemaker bested former Councilman Rodney Morris in a race that wasn't close. Morris last month said he was not running a viable campaign so he could focus on his health.

Shoemaker received 61.3 percent of the votes to Morris' 37.8 percent.