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May 22, 2022

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Voters to pick Washougal mayor, councilors

Business, safety, homeless among candidates’ issues

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CAMAS — Molly Coston, the city of Washougal’s mayor, and Chris de la Rocha, a defense instructor and former professional mixed martial arts fighter, are competing for the city council’s Position 5.

Coston served as a council member from 2005-11 before being elected as council chair in 2017.

“I have developed strong positive relationships with leaders within our community, as well as leaders throughout Clark County. I want to continue to build on those relationships to benefit all the citizens in Washougal,” she told the Post-Record. “I have a depth of experience and knowledge based on my many years as a Washougal council member, as well as serving for the last four years as mayor. Our Washougal community is on the cusp of greater vitality; as a council member, I will take an active role in moving us forward. I love Washougal and want to continue to protect the qualities that we cherish, enhance small business development, and serve our citizens with integrity.”

Coston is a member of the C-TRAN board of directors, Camas-Washougal Rotary Club, League of Women Voters of Clark County, Columbia Gorge Refuge Stewards board of directors, and Washougal School District political action committee, and formerly chaired the Southwest Regional Transportation Council. She has a bachelor’s of science degree in biology and organic chemistry from the University of Arizona in Tucson, Ariz.

“I will provide solid leadership, and I have gained much public respect for my high ethical standards and positive focus for Washougal,” she said. “I have very strong positive relationships with the Washougal School District, city of Camas, and the Port of Camas-Washougal, as well as many service organizations and nonprofits, which is essential to build a strong positive community.”

The city’s biggest challenges include finding “a fair, equitable, and financially responsible solution for fire and EMS services,” homelessness and social media misinformation, according to Coston.

“Public safety is my No. 1 priority, and we must continue to provide a high level of service in this area. We are on the verge of finding viable options, and I want to continue to assist in finding a solution,” she said. “Homelessness is an issue that citizens bring up to me frequently; I agree that we do not want to look like Portland or Seattle. However, most of the homeless I see in our community are not coming from outside the community, but have family or historical ties to Washougal. Our police are aware of this issue and deal with those that are a threat to the public; I am told that the number of those homeless have not increased. And I will continue to provide accurate and true information to combat (the current) avalanche of misinformation.”

De la Rocha owns and operates the Forge Combat Academy in Camas and provides self-defense seminars to Clark County Sheriff’s defensive tactics instructors and the Washington State School for the Blind. He is also known for his tenure as a mixed martial artist fighter; he competed in eight professional matches from 2013-18.

Previously, he served as a correctional officer at the Washington State Department of Corrections’ Larch Correctional Facility for 10 years.

DeLaRocha graduated from Oak Grove High School in San Jose, Calif., and attended San Jose City College, West Valley College in Saratoga, Calif., and Clark College. He didn’t return an email from the Post-Record seeking comment, but wrote in the voters’ pamphlet that he would focus on business development and public safety if elected to the position.

“While Portland mistreats its businesses, Washougal has a golden opportunity to attract those companies here, providing good jobs for our citizens so they can work where they live for improved quality of life,” he wrote. “This will be my focus, along with prioritized budgeting to keep citizens safe. We must solve homelessness on our streets. Let’s call it what it is — a 90 percent drug/alcohol addiction crisis. On my watch, Washougal won’t become a haven for illegal encampments like Portland and Seattle. Some candidates want to use tax dollars to build tiny houses. This only makes matters worse. With my professional experience, we’ll get folks off the street to lead more productive lives. I’ll provide common sense leadership for a better Washougal for everyone.”

Washougal City Council Position 1 (Washougal mayor)

Longtime community volunteer and current city of Washougal parks board member Rochelle Ramos is running for the city council’s Position 1 (mayor).

Ramos works as a human resources director with PLEXSYS Interface Products, a Camas-based software company, and co-owns the Washougal-based, nonprofit Lunchmoney Indoor Skatepark. She has served on the Washougal Parks Board of Commissioners since 2018.

Derik Ford, who defeated current council member Paul Greenlee in August’s primary election for the right to challenge Ramos in November, suspended his campaign in September, and died on Sept. 25. Ford’s name will still appear on voters’ ballots in the Nov. 2 election due to the fact that ballots had already been mailed to overseas and military voters before Ford suspended his campaign.

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