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Friday, March 1, 2024
March 1, 2024

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Newcomer faces Port of Camas-Washougal incumbent

Ward seeks fourth term for District 2; Marshall focuses on collaboration

By , Columbian staff reporter

Bill Ward believes the Port of Camas-Washougal is on the right path.

Ward, an engineer who owns and operates a consulting business, is seeking a fourth four-year term representing District 2 on the three-person port commission.

“I have helped to chart a great course,” Ward said in a questionnaire from The Columbian. “Changes that I favor are already in progress. Yet to come is development of some properties near Grove Field to provide a higher return on that investment.”

Ward is being challenged by Cassi Marshall, who spent 17 years working for the Washougal School District before recently leaving for her family’s residential development business that focuses on infill and energy-efficient construction.

Marshall said she spent a considerable amount of time learning about the port’s operations, facilities and plans.

Cassi Marshall

Age: 52.

Occupation: works for family-owned residential development company; previously spent 17 years with the Washougal School District.

Top issues: redevelop waterfront to promote economic growth, expand industrial park, improve recreational amenities.

Campaign money: raised $9,979.07, including $1,916.78 in kind/noncash contributions from candidate, plus $3,416.78 loans from candidate; spent $9,838.30 as of Oct. 18.

Bill Ward

Age: 81.

Occupation: engineer and owner-operator of engineering consulting business.

Top issues: redevelop waterfront to maximize community value, promote full occupancy of Steigerwald Commerce Center, improve use of port property at Grove Field.

Campaign money: no details submitted because candidate does not plan to raise or spend more than $5,000.

“I believe that our port is on a healthy and exciting trajectory,” she said in response to The Columbian’s questionnaire. “The industrial park, marina and airport facilities are at full occupancy, suggesting that they are well run and maintained.”

Commissioners are elected to nonpartisan positions within one of the port’s three districts and receive a $4,200 annual salary.

Ward was first elected to the port in 2007 with 58.8 percent of the vote. He was re-elected in 2011 with 63.4 percent and was unopposed for a third term in 2015.

Ward said he is running for a fourth term to complete “important unfinished business” before the port.

“I have been able to initiate a number of projects to benefit the community, including the Steigerwald Commerce Center and the Waterfront Park,” he said. “There are complex issues. I want to see that these projects are continued to a successful finish.”

Marshall, who has served on the Camas Parks Commission and other volunteer groups but has not held elected office, said she decided to run at the encouragement of trusted friends.

“I’ve lived in Camas and worked in Washougal for many years, so I especially appreciate that the port works to improve the quality of life for our entire east county region,” she said. “The port’s mission to bring jobs, infrastructure and recreation to our area meshes well with my own priorities and interests.”

The two candidates generally agree on water redevelopment and other issues facing the port. Ward is emphasizing his experience and “full knowledge” of the port’s issues while touting his environmental views.

“I have continually promoted economic development, the key mission of the port,” Ward said. “As a longtime Camas business owner, I understand the factors that make a region attractive to business.

“At the same time, I value our quality of life and believe strongly that businesses have an obligation to be environmentally friendly and operate on a sustainable basis,” he added. “I have been extremely vocal in my opposition to fossil fuel terminals in Vancouver and at other West Coast locations.”

Marshall is attempting to thread the needle by being supportive of the port and her opponent’s work while calling for more collaboration and new perspectives.

“I’ve worked as both a staff member and as a board/commission member in various roles through work and volunteer positions,” she said. “So I have a solid understanding of the importance of respect and trust in all aspects of a public organization.

“While I think that Bill Ward has made positive contributions to the community through his work on the port commission, I believe that the new energy and fresh perspective I could bring to this important work would have tremendous value,” she said.

Columbian staff reporter