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Sept. 20, 2020

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Johnson, Walters lead Battle Ground races

Former mayor, newcomer ahead in city council contests

By , Columbian political reporter
Published:
6 Photos
Neil Butler
Neil Butler Photo Gallery

In the pair of Battle Ground City Council races on the primary ballot, two-term City Councilor Philip Johnson and political newcomer Shauna Walters were the frontrunners in their respective races.

In the race for the Position 7 seat, Johnson — who was first elected in 2011 and served as mayor in 2016 and 2017 — emerged from the primary ahead of his challengers with 46.15 percent of the initial count of 2,011 votes. Behind Johnson was newcomer Josh VanGelder with 33.81 percent of the vote. Katrina Negrov trailed with 20.04 percent.

“I did OK and lived another day,” said Johnson. “I’m not moaning; don’t misunderstand me.”

If the results hold, VanGelder, who works as a landscape crew lead, will face off against Johnson in the general election. Johnson said he’d keep talking about fire, water, streets and other issues facing Battle Ground in the general election. VanGelder said he hopes to attract voters from Negrov while boosting turnout in the general election.

“I’m definitely excited,” said VanGelder. “I know there’s a lot of work to do.”

In the race for the open Position 3 seat, Walters, a former Army combat medic, received 48.88 percent of the initial 2,013 votes counted, the largest share of any candidate running.

“I have an excellent team behind me,” said Walters. “That started with just me and it turned into an amazing team of volunteers.”

Neil Butler, who works in retail management, had the second-strongest showing at 33.88 percent. He said he attributed his success to his campaign’s focus on the issues and the “proper role of city government.”

“I’m very excited,” he said. “I’m grateful for everyone who came out to vote.”

Candy Bonneville, a member of the city’s planning commission, received 17.24 percent of the vote in the initial count.

During the city council election, the heated issue of gun rights came to the fore. Both Walters and VanGelder made Initiative 1639, a gun control initiative passed last November, a campaign issue and indicated they’d use city council seats to oppose the law. Both appeared with Joey Gibson, leader of right-wing protest group Patriot Prayer, and the election was marked with clashes between the challengers and Johnson and Mayor Mike Dalesandro.

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