Last-minute challenger made it a race for B.G. councilor

Bonneville didn't want incumbent Johnson to be unopposed

By Emily Gillespie, Columbian Breaking News Reporter

Published:

 

Philip Johnson

Candy Bonneville

Battle Ground City Councilor Philip Johnson will have to defeat last-minute opponent Candy Bonneville if he wants to keep his seat.

Bonneville filed to run against the incumbent just minutes before 5 p.m. on May 15, the filing deadline.

She said she had been keeping an eye on who had filed, and when she saw that Johnson would go unopposed, she decided to enter the race.

“I always think it’s good for the community to have choices,” she said. “This is something I want to do, and this is probably a good time to do it.”

Bonneville has lived in Battle Ground for nearly 16 years and said she has attended city council meetings off and on for the past three years. What she has observed has inspired her to take action.

“It just seems that so many times they don’t delve deep enough into the decisions that they’re making,” she said. “I intend to make decisions responsibly by asking the right questions and considering the effects of the decision. It’s something I don’t always think takes place when I’m watching the process from the gallery.”

One thing that bothered Bonneville was that Johnson ran his first campaign promising not to increase taxes. But council minutes show that Johnson voted in November 2014 to increase property tax collections by 1 percent and in December 2014 to increase utility taxes by 2 percent.

Johnson, who also serves as deputy mayor, said he has the city’s best interest in mind with his decision-making, which influences his votes. He said that having started his term at the end of the recession, he’s proud to have been a part of a council that has done a responsible job with the city’s budget.

“We’re running the city in a reasonable fashion without taking too much of the people’s money,” Johnson said.

Bonneville said she’s fit for the job and that with her experience of more than 30 years at CoreLogic Credco, as a credit processor and as a supervisor, she knows how to manage staff, set policy and implement new processes.

“Sometimes you may be making a decision based on a set of data in front of you, but there are always downstream effects for what you might change,” she said. “I can dig into something that might come up, something that’s new and know how to ask the kinds of questions that are important.”

Bonneville, who describes herself as conservative with other people’s money, is the chairwoman for the 18th Legislative District for the local Democratic Party. Though the district is a challenging one, she said, the group works to recruit candidates for the legislative races as well as to educate voters and increase voter turnout.

Bonneville said that with the city growing, the disjointed decisions by council don’t seem to add up to having a long-range plan — or one that is publicized to Battle Ground citizens.

“If we don’t have vision, then there’s no real continuity to having city growth,” she said. “It’s hard to be successful if you don’t know what you’re trying to achieve.”

Earlier this year, the city decided to switch its fire services, negotiating a new fire contract with Clark County Fire District 3 and dropping Clark County Fire & Rescue. Johnson said the agreement will save $125,000 a year and will result in “better service out of the deal,” he said.

The city was also able to finally secure money to repair the pavement on Parkway Avenue, which has been a problem for motorists for the past 10 years.

“It’s an amusement-ride street, it’s so bumpy. … The joke is that it’ll knock out your (car’s) alignment,” he said. “It’s a big deal out here to get 1 mile of street fixed.”

He said that he has done a good job representing citizens during his first term and said he’s the best candidate to continue serving the position.

“I told (voters) four years ago that I’d be their Monday night watchman, and I haven’t missed a meeting,” Johnson said. “I think I represent the 19,000 of us out here, and I’m looking out for them as much as I can.”

Johnson said he plans to continue tackling issues such as the city’s growth and traffic issues as they arise.

“I’ve had a wonderful time, and I look forward to four more years,” he said. “I’ll just do the best I can and hope the citizens are pleased with my work.”

Ballots for the election are due Nov. 3.

More information about this race and others can be found at the county’s election website, www.clark.wa.gov/elections.