CAMAS — Two candidates are vying for the open Ward 1, Position 2 seat on the Camas City Council after longtime city Councilwoman Melissa Smith decided to not run for reelection in 2021.
Candidates Marilyn Dale-Boerke and Gary Perman presented themselves to voters in a recent League of Women Voters of Clark County forum.
Dale-Boerke is a 35-year resident of Camas and current head of human resources at the Camas School District. Perman is a lifelong Camas resident and owner of the PermanTech Search Group.
Asked how they might address Camas’ population growth and lack of affordable housing, the candidates were both concerned that the city was approving housing developments without having proper roads in place to support the growth.
“Camas seems to work too closely with residential developers,” Perman said, noting that Crown Road will go from a country road to a curbed housing development with hundreds of homes to a country road again. “And there are 1,000 cars a day coming down that street. … We haven’t built up our street system since … the 1980s.”
Dale-Boerke agreed with that assessment.
“We do have some infrastructure challenges in our city,” she said. “We keep adding people and have these sweet, little country roads that can’t sustain that.”
But Dale-Boerke also said she realizes city leaders have to do something to help families afford to live in Camas, which is quickly becoming unaffordable for even middle-income earners.
Dale-Boerke said city officials must look to solutions such as rezoning, restructuring to “do what we can to serve (its) citizens” when it comes to improving the city’s housing affordability.
“As a 30-year resident (of Camas) who has worked in the Camas School District for 21 years, we’ve felt the impact in our school system. … I’ve seen unhoused families and the impact on their kids. … And a lot of our employees cannot afford to live here.”
Answering a question about the political polarization among Camas residents, Dale-Boerke said that issue was what prompted her to run for the city council.
“I’m a peace builder,” she said. “But (the polarization) is not just in Camas. It’s everywhere. And engaging in respectful discourse is critical for any community. We have to listen to our citizens and find out why they feel the way they do and how we can come together as a community. (People are) finished, frustrated with all the challenges we face. Yet, we’re Camasonians, so what can we do to come together and forge a community in which our citizens can thrive?”
Perman said he believes the COVID-19 pandemic also has impacted citizens’ polarization.
“It contributes to more unrest and people who are disappointed in the city council because there are a lot of things happening behind the scenes,” Perman said. “We don’t know what’s going on. So there has to be more transparency within the leadership of Camas.”
If elected to the city council, Perman said, he would work to “improve infrastructure and streets … recruit and bring higher-wage jobs (to the area) … and lower taxes.”
“I know that’s a lot to take on in four years, but I’ll give it a shot,” Perman said.
Dale-Boerke said she believes it is “a pivotal time” for Camas.
“Factions are at war with one another,” she said, “and that’s not the best way to get things done and to have a wonderful, thriving community.”
If elected to the council, Dale-Boerke said, she also would concentrate on communication between the council and its citizens.
“I think people deserve a voice (in city government), and that’s why I’m running for city council,” Dale-Boerke said.