Washougal council candidates weigh in on growth, kids’ issues

Two of three Position 6 candidates say good planning is crucial

By Adam Littman, Columbian Staff Writer

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When planning for growth, there are a variety of angles to consider, which some candidates for Washougal City Council Position No. 6 did when discussing the future of the city.

“Growth is coming whether citizens want it or not,” Julie Russell, 57, one of three candidates for the position, wrote in an email. “So let’s develop a comprehensive community plan, in conjunction with Clark County and the Port (of Camas-Washougal), so the growth is managed in a way that is good for the community, citizens and businesses. Good planning would also include zoning, infrastructure and costs, as well as a finance plan to describe how the expensive infrastructure will be paid for. The cost needs to be balanced and fair.”

Adam Philbin, 49, wants to look at incentives that can draw in businesses.

“We need to continue improving the downtown core and find a way to keep the lease rates at a reasonable amount,” he wrote in an email. “I think we have plenty of bars and breweries. Now we need to work at drawing families downtown and remove the reasons for going into Vancouver or Portland.”

Children are a major focus for Philbin, a political newcomer who works as the manager of security and risk at Shriners Hospitals for Children in Portland. He wants to make sure the children of Washougal have the support they need.

“We need a place for kids, which is both free and safe, to go where they can get a sandwich, help doing their homework and encouragement when it’s not available at home,” he wrote.

Philbin wrote that it would be in the city’s best interest to develop a program that protects and empowers Washougal’s youngest citizens and engages the entire community. That’s also the reason he likes what the Washougal Round Table, a new community group that started last year, has done to give Washougal residents a voice.

Russell, a licensed marriage and family therapist and mental health counselor who was elected to the Tigard Water District from 2007-2015 in Tigard, Ore., wants to make sure the city retains all the features residents love about it while preparing for growth. Russell wrote that some of the major issues facing the city are to “preserve the communal atmosphere of Washougal, keep Washougal beautiful by cleaning up poorly maintained areas through the enforcement of city codes, ordinances, grants and community projects” and “maintain appropriate and responsive police, emergency and fire department coverage for the safety of our citizens.”

Philbin also highlighted local police, noting that the department hasn’t grown even though the city has.

“Our police are already stretched thin,” he wrote. “I think we need to address the city’s infrastructure before encouraging too much growth.”

Russell wrote that the city and port need to partner together “to create an economic growth plan” and “bring more business and recreation opportunities to the community.”

Philbin and Russell are two of three candidates for Position No. 6, which is up for election after Dave Shoemaker decided to not seek re-election. The third candidate for the race, Nettie Morris, listed her email address incorrectly when filing to run, so it was listed incorrectly online and she didn’t receive any emails seeking comment. Her email address is listed correctly in the Clark County voters’ pamphlet.

In the Clark County voters’ pamphlet, she wrote that her goals are to “continue growth and support for public safety, support and honor our senior members in the community, engage with our youth and provide a safe community for them to thrive in and support city employees to ensure our city continues to be the jewel of Clark County.”