CAMAS — The decision by Steve Hogan to run for Camas mayor has provided an opportunity for Tim Hein and Martin Elzingre to run for his Ward 2, Position 2 seat on the Camas City Council.
Hein is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point who served as an officer with the U.S. Army for six years before working 25 years as an executive for various medical-device companies. He has served on the Camas Planning Commission for the past 17 years and was formerly a volunteer member of the Camas Education Foundation and the Camas School District superintendent’s budget committee.
Elzingre, whose LinkedIn profile describes him as a senior sales director at KLA-Tencor, a high-technology company with offices in Oregon, has said he “is not a politician” but rather “a proven leader that ‘gets things done.’”
Asked why they had decided to run for city council, the candidates said they loved living in Camas and wanted to improve their city.
“My family and I really enjoyed the opportunity to move here 20 years ago,” Hein said. “I’ve been on the planning commission for the past 17 years … and as a council member, I would like to be one of the members that helps shape the future of the city.”
Elzingre said he also loves living in Camas, but that some of the things that attracted him to the city “are in danger.”
“We need better planning … less consultants,” Elzingre said. “I’m a successful business leader at a Fortune 500 company. I will apply those skills to the city and make it an even better place than it already is.”
When it comes to growth in Camas, both of the Ward 2, Position 2 candidates recognize the city is somewhat constrained by state rules that require cities to accommodate a certain amount of growth.
“We have a 20-year growth plan given to us by the state, but I see areas where we could have improvement,” Elzingre said of the city’s approach to its rapid population growth and lack of affordable housing. “More affordable housing might mean denser housing. We’re going to grow whether we like it or not. If we don’t pay close attention to our zoning, we’re going to continue to see the problems we’re having today.”
Hein, who has been part of the city’s main body charged with planning for the future, said he believes the city has potential in its North Shore and downtown areas for more mixed-use and “creative ways to create housing” in the city limits, and pointed to the planning commission and city council’s recently passed strategies for encouraging more affordable and diverse housing in the city of Camas.
Another issue that came up during a recent candidate forum was the issue of what Camas officials should do when it comes to discharging fireworks within the city limits.
Hein said he believed the use of personal fireworks should be limited to the Fourth of July holiday, but he said he would also consider regulating the type of allowed fireworks as well as the times for setting them off in the city. Hein also said he might be open to encouraging more “group activities versus individual acts of patriotism, especially in times of drier conditions” when it comes to fireworks.
Elzingre agreed with Hein on the fireworks issue.
“When I go around and talk to people, it’s almost 50-50,” Elzingre said, adding some people say they love shooting off fireworks while others worry the annual tradition harms veterans and animals in the area.
“We have to consider public safety, but also respect people who choose (fireworks) to celebrate their holiday,” he said, adding he would encourage the city council members to “listen to both sides and figure out something that works for everybody.”
Asked about their vision for Camas in 10 to 20 years, the candidates pointed to differences in their campaigns.
Elzingre said one of the “hallmarks” of his campaign was a desire to control the city’s taxation of private residents. Instead, he would like to attract new businesses, perhaps semiconductor industries, to Camas, Elzingre said, to help grow the city’s tax base.
He also would like to address cleanups at the Georgia-Pacific paper mill property in downtown Camas and at Lacamas Lake.
“I want our downtown to expand,” Elzingre said, “to have more good restaurants, more places where we can all gather with our friends and family.”
Hein agreed that he would also like to see the city push to clean Camas’ lakes and to see Camas have a more diversified tax base.
“I’m a big believer in the Camas 2035 vision,” Hein said, referring to the city’s 2035 plan that included extensive community input. “I see a thriving area north of the lake with a (combination) of industrial, cleaner industrial, integrated with commercial and residential.”