Candidate returns to Camas council race

Amundson restarts her campaign against Smith

By Tyler Graf, Columbian county government reporter

Published:

 
photoSteve Hogan
photoMelissa Smith
photoKen Kakuk

At 9:56 p.m. Sunday night, a Camas City Council candidate who had bowed out of the election sent an email saying she’s back in.

Vanessa Amundson earlier said she was no longer campaigning for the city’s Ward 1, Position 2 spot.

Incumbent Councilor Melissa Smith, 54, said she is running an active campaign.

In her email message, Amundson wrote: “After Melissa Smith’s RTC (Regional Transportation Council) vote last Tuesday October 1, Vanessa Amundson has decided to put aside her family and work obligations to resume her campaign against Melissa Smith for Camas City Council, in order to safeguard Camas citizens sovereign rights. For more information, please see the campaign website at http://www.vanheartscamas.com.”

Smith, a nine-year council veteran appointed in 2004, said she wants to preserve Camas’ small-town feel at the same time Camas pushes for more business development. The city is completing the extension of Northwest 38th Avenue, near the campus of Fisher Investments, to open the land up to further development.

“I like preserving our parks and greenspaces,” she said. “I don’t want to see everything urbanized, with houses on top of each other.”

Councilor Shannon Turk is running unopposed for Ward 3, Position 2.

In another race, Councilor Steven Hogan faces former city employee Ken Kakuk for Ward 2, Position 2.

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. Later that year, he ran for mayor but lost to Scott Higgins.

Kakuk denies he was disruptive and says he was fired unfairly. For more than a year, he’s sought 700,000 pages of public records to prove his claim.

So far, he’s run a rather quiet campaign but is happy with the results. “Things are going great,” he said.

As a councilor, Kakuk said, he’d stand up for city employees and residents.

Hogan, meanwhile, said he planned to focus on continuing the city’s emphasis on growth. The 61-year-old plant manager has served on city council for eight years.

Camas, home to Fisher Investments and WaferTech, has been at the center of a development push in recent years. Hogan said he wanted to bring more large-scale businesses to the city.

He said much of that work will depend on timing. Nonetheless, Hogan added, he’d work to promote city policies that put out the welcome mat for more jobs.

“You never know when you’re really going to land these guys,” he said. “You just want to position your city for when the stars align.”