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Sunday, October 1, 2023
Oct. 1, 2023

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Washougal Mayor Rochelle Ramos to step down Sept. 17

Ramos taking another job elsewhere after 10 months leading city

By , Columbian staff writer

Washougal Mayor Rochelle Ramos will be stepping down from her position on the city council on Sept. 17. According to a press release issued Monday, Ramos said she is leaving to pursue “a career growth opportunity in another state.”

“It has been an honor to serve as mayor. It was not my plan when I ran for office to only serve 10 months. I was also not actively seeking a new position. I was approached with an opportunity that is very positive for my family, and although it was a very difficult decision, I just couldn’t turn it down,” Ramos said in the release.

Councilor David Stuebe will serve as mayor pro tem until the council appoints someone to fill Ramos’ council seat.

Ramos was elected to council in November 2021, winning 82.52 percent of votes cast. Stuebe said her election was the culmination of years of volunteer work, service and support in the Washougal community.

“We are grateful for Rochelle’s long history of service in our community. We as a city have been very fortunate to have had such a passionate and engaged community member who has done an outstanding job in all her roles, including her current position as mayor. She will be greatly missed,” Stuebe said in the release.

The city council will turn its attention to replacing Ramos at its Sept. 12 work session. In an interview Tuesday, City Manager David Scott said state law does not detail the process for filling council vacancies, although the city does have its own code. Scott said the council will have some leeway in how it chooses to proceed.

“State law just says that the council shall appoint someone to fill a vacancy,” Scott said. “The statute does not proscribe any requirements or any process for how that should work.”

Scott said the council can choose to follow existing council rules for filling the vacancy or suspend those rules and choose to go in a different direction to appoint someone to the position.

“They have done that in the past. The way the current rules read, there would be a solicitation for applicants then eligible applicants that meet the length of residency and registered voter status requirements … would be interviewed,” Scott said.

Rather than interviewing candidates, Scott said the council could also appoint an existing council member as mayor then work on filling that person’s council seat. Scott said he will present the options to the council on Sept. 12. The council will then have to wait until Ramos’ departure before moving forward with filling the vacancy.

Whoever is appointed as mayor will serve until the November 2023 election when a new council member is elected. The individual elected will begin serving once the election results are certified and will serve the remainder of Ramos’ term through the end of 2025.

“I am excited for Washougal’s future. We are in the middle of updating our strategic plan, which will guide the community into the future, and there are several exciting projects in the works. I encourage Washougal citizens to get involved by volunteering to serve the community through the many opportunities available,” Ramos said. “It is with mixed emotions that I move into this next phase in life, and I will miss Washougal.”