LONGVIEW — Woodland Mayor Will Finn has announced he will run as a Republican against incumbent Cowlitz County District 1 Commissioner Arne Mortensen, campaigning against a perceived lack of collaboration from the current board.
Finn was elected Woodland Mayor in 2015 and re-elected last year, running unopposed both times. He has sparred with county leadership over issues from the county lodging tax to Woodland’s growing pains.
He isn’t shy about crusading on behalf of Woodland: “I get emotional about it.”
But the commissioner position also represents Kelso, Kalama and most of south Cowlitz County. Finn said he’s spoken with officials in other cities who feel the county sometimes runs roughshod over city wishes.
“We have been struggling, challenged, by our relationship with Cowlitz County,” Finn said. “We know that what we do inside our city is going to impact other people. … I think that at the county level, they don’t see it that way. They see: ‘You can’t tell us what to do. We’ll do what we want, and we don’t care about the impact it creates.’ ”
Finn said he’d already been thinking about entering the race for months before Mortensen announced he’d seek a second four-year term earlier in February.
In a 2015 interview, Finn said he wanted to crack down on unprofessional conduct from city employees and fix a disconnect between Woodland, its council and its citizens.
“From the outside looking in, there’s a lot of similarities I’m seeing at the county level that I saw going into the mayor position,” Finn said Saturday.
He said he’s perceived a lack of professionalism and “somewhat of a bully mentality” from the current board. He didn’t name names and said he wanted to avoid mudslinging: “Without getting too personal, I would say we can do better.”
Finn, 42, said he would keep his job as public information officer at the Washington State Patrol if elected. He doesn’t want to appear as if he’s making a career out of politics.
“The goal is to get in, make a difference, leave it better than you found it, and then get out,” Finn said.
Finn and his wife have three children, ages 9, 16 and 16. Born and raised in Vancouver, he’s lived in Woodland since 2005 and worked at the state patrol since 2007.