Washougal Candidate Bios
Occupation: Retired senior project manager, Nortel Networks.
Offices held/leadership positions: Washougal councilor. 2005-2011; Regional Transportation Council chairwoman, 2010; mayor pro tem, 2009; Camas-Washougal Rotary Club president, 2014-2015; League of Women Voters of Clark County president, 2007-2010; Columbia Gorge Refuge Stewards president, 2016-present.
Occupation: computer network and systems engineer.
Offices held/leadership positions: Washougal councilor, 2015-present; precinct committee officer, Clark County Republican Party.
Occupation: insurance agent/owner.
Offices held/leadership positions: after-school program director; led missions trips; youth pastor.
The race for Washougal’s new mayor looked like a repeat of an earlier city council battle, but a third candidate filed as a write-in on Sept. 8, and residents now have three options to pick from for their new mayor: Molly Coston, Dan Coursey and Paul Godin.
Coston and Coursey should be familiar names to residents. Coston was on the council from 2005-2011; Coursey has been a councilor since 2015. They ran against one another in 2015 for Position No. 7 on the council, with Coursey winning the seat with 52.6 percent of the vote. Godin is the newcomer in the race, filing as a write-in. In an email, Godin wrote that he had thought about running for mayor, and was then called in as an emergency substitute Spanish teacher at Washougal High School. He called it a “timing issue.”
“By not declaring in May, what I did was miss the opportunity and privilege to listen to and interact with more engaged constituents early on,” he wrote. “I completely forfeited the right to be on any Clark County Election press, including the voters’ pamphlets, websites and the like. By missing the primary season, my campaign became an uphill battle from the onset.”
Mayor Sean Guard dropped his re-election bid in May after the Washougal Police Department announced there was an open investigation involving the mayor, who was elected in 2009. He was accused of paying a woman $300 shortly after receiving sexual favors, according to an Aug. 25 Washington State Patrol report, and the Washington Attorney General’s Office is now reviewing the allegations.
The candidates each identified various major issues facing Washougal. For Coston, that is rapid residential growth. She wrote that rapid growth puts pressure on the city’s ability to deliver quality services, maintain and improve the network of roads, expand Washougal’s parks and trails and maintain its quality of life.
“Infill, done in a researched way, is healthy, and results in a more walkable community,” she wrote. “We can control how we grow. We must take a long-range view of how we will grow and pay for that growth, so that we can provide essentials such as police, emergency medical and fire services.”
Coursey wrote that there are four issues he’d concentrate on, starting with improving the economic and fiscal condition of Washougal by encouraging new businesses, retail shops and jobs to come to the city.
He’d also “continue to vitalize the downtown core, and continue to partner with the Port (of Camas-Washougal) to bring in clean industry and family wage jobs,” he wrote in his email. Coursey is also looking to improve infrastructure and look for ways to reduce future congestion, maintain adequate public safety and “control taxes, fees and costs to attract and keep private enterprises and people in Washougal.”
Godin also identified four areas he’d like to focus on: “identity, economy, education and infrastructure.”
“We need to establish what makes Washougal unique and special,” he wrote. “We need to build around that identity, attracting the right businesses and creating a more desirable destination, capturing local spend and tourist dollars. We need to rally around our educators and support our future in the student population. We need to build safe gathering centers, like parks and walkways, for our citizens of all socio-economic backgrounds.”
One divisive issue in the city right now is also one where the candidates differ a bit more, and that issue is fireworks. The city recently held a public hearing and sent out a survey to residents asking them their thoughts about personal firework regulations within the city limits of Washougal. City councilors are looking at a complete ban on fireworks use, further limiting the time period during which they can be used and/or only allowing the use of “safe and sane” fireworks, which the city identifies as ones that are neither projectile or explosive, such as fountains, sparklers, smokeballs and pinwheels.
Godin wrote that he is “not a fan of over-regulation.”
“I not only support personal fireworks, I support increasing the sales/purchase days from three to seven days so that the not-for-profits can capture more revenue,” he wrote. “I believe that discharge should remain on the Fourth of July, ending by midnight. I am agreeable to severe fines for people who cannot follow these guidelines. I would add that fines be handed out to people who can’t clean up after themselves.”
Coston is in favor of going with the “safe and sane” option.
“I love fireworks, but there are too many that abuse the privilege,” she wrote. “The current city government has done a very good job of getting citizen input on this issue, and I am certain that they will make a good decision.”
Coursey thinks most people want a ban of some sort.
“From my door-belling experience the past two months, I would say about 40 percent want a total ban, 50 percent just want the big mortar and larger types banned and 10 percent want no change at all,” he wrote. “I do sympathize with those that are tired of all the excessive noise and litter and are asking for a ban. In council, we will try to find a solution in the middle, but barring that, a total ban could happen.”