Sunday, December 5, 2021
Dec. 5, 2021

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Voters to decide 3 positions on La Center council

By , Columbian staff writer

A total of 13 candidates will be running for La Center City Council Positions 1-3. Each candidate offers differing opinions on what direction to take the city.

The two incumbents — Dennis Hill from Position 2 and Randy Williams from Position 3 — will be running again each with three opponents. Position 1 is vacant with five people vying for the seat.

The top two vote-getters for each position from the Aug. 3 primary will advance to the Nov. 2 general election ballot.

Here’s how the races are shaping up:

Position 1:

  • Ron Ostrander, a 73-year-old veteran who works on the La Center Police Advisory Coalition.
  • Craig Whited, a 48-year-old small business owner and Board of Director at Fluid Power Industry.
  • Melissa Fox, founder of Gold Star Tutoring LLC.
  • Justin Keeler, a 46-year-old Outreach and Partnerships Director for FVRLibraries and President of the La Center Music Association.
  • Mryna Leija, a retired Clark County Corrections Deputy.

Ostrander, who has lived in La Center for 15 years, emphasized the need to have an independent police department. “La Center is growing, and I think we should have our own accountable police department who know the area and feel responsive to us,” he said.

This response was a key theme among many candidates. Leija has a long history of working with law enforcement. She said transparency and communication are needed to run a better and safer community.

Whited said giving back to the community is important to him, and that’s why he chose to run for city council. “I have the experience that I believe can be leveraged for the betterment of the city governance and the citizens of the city,” he said.

Fox, a lifelong resident of La Center, said preserving local law enforcement and attracting small businesses to diversify city revenue was important to her, as well as finding better uses for the city’s current assets that are “costing us taxpayers thousands every month.”

Keeler, a resident of La Center for 12 years, said: “I want to help our city succeed in a sustainable way that helps us maintain and improve on all of the things that make La Center special. I want families, coming after mine, to be able to benefit from life in La Center the way that we have.”

Position 2:

  • Dennis Hill, 79-year-old incumbent who was elected to fill a vacant position in 2020.
  • David Nelson, engineer and past senator with the Associated Students of the University of Washington.
  • KC Kasberg, an administrative commander with the Clark County Sheriff’s Office.
  • Kimberlee Elbon, a 65-year-old credit union teller and Clean Slate Constitutional Life Citizen of Clark County.

Dennis Hill, the incumbent, was elected in 2020 to fill a midterm vacancy for this city council position. In his statement, Hill said: “Our beautiful city is facing some very difficult issues, and I believe I am the best-qualified candidate to help our city navigate these tough times.”

Nelson, an engineer, said in his statement that he moved to La Center because of its safety and beauty and that he is running to protect those things. “I want to preserve the beautiful scenery in its natural state and incorporate that into the expansion of our town.”

Kasberg, who was hired by the Clark County Sheriff’s office in 2015, said he will use his experience as enforcement commander to bring a “new perspective” to the city council.

Elbon said in her statement: “To capsulate my life journey to the citizens of La Center — the birthplace of my mother — I realized that I have been sharpened many ways to believe our hometown is not remembering its grass roots of governing for the people and by the people.”

Position 3:

  • T.R. “Randy” Williams, the incumbent since 2010.
  • Janice Fowler, accountant and past city council member.
  • Sean Boyle, a 35-year-old journeyman lineman and nonprofit club secretary.
  • Palmer Davis, campaign manager and digital marketer.

Williams, the incumbent since 2010, said in his statement that La Center has faced many challenges in the last few years but has remained resilient. He added that construction has started for new hotels, stores and food revenues are replacing the revenue lost during the pandemic due to the closing of the nearby ilani casino.

Fowler, who served on the council from 2003-2005 and has been a resident of La Center for 44 years, said in her statement that her experience as an accountant has given her an understanding of “what works and what doesn’t.”

Davis has over 10 years of experience in the private sector. In her statement, she addressed La Center’s growing population and the issues the city faces such as “closed businesses, inaccessible public servants and schools that seem reluctant to hear the concerns of parents.”

Boyle said his priorities as city councilmen would be protecting the safety of residents through a strong police force and fire department. He said he’d offer an open door policy for his constituents and lead with a “transparent solution-based approach.” Boyle said he hopes to maintain the values of hard work, neighbor helping neighbor and coming together for the greater good that shaped La Center.

Columbian staff writer