Washougal City Council members have named one of their own — Councilmember David Stuebe — to replace former Washougal Mayor Rochelle Ramos.
Ramos — elected in November 2021 to fill the council’s Position No. 1 seat, which also acts as the city’s mayor under Washougal’s council-manager form of government — announced in August that she had taken a new job in Utah and planned to step down from her mayoral position, effective Sept. 17.
The council voted unanimously Sept. 26 to suspend its normal rules regarding council appointments.
Instead of advertising the mayoral position vacancy and interviewing eligible candidates, the council unanimously voted to appoint Stuebe to fill the vacant Council Position No. 1 seat and take over as Washougal’s mayor.
Councilmember Michelle Wagner said the decision to suspend the rules and appoint a council member to the mayoral position was done for “continuity’s sake.”
“With the budget coming up and all the budgetary items that will have to be approved in the coming weeks,” Wagner said, the council wanted to have a mayor who was already familiar with that process.
“I agree,” former Washougal Mayor Molly Coston, who now acts as a regular council member, told her council peers. “I think this makes sense for us.”
Coston added that Stuebe, who was already serving as the council’s mayor pro tem, “has been getting his feet wet.”
“He is much more than the chair of the council,” Coston said of Stuebe. “He is out there in the community, and I think (he) has become very adept at that and is engaged in all the activities we do.”
Stuebe, who served in the United States Marine Corps for 30 years before retiring as a colonel and has 20 years of experience working in the health care and pharmaceutical industries, has lived in Washougal since 2007. He and his wife, Paige Stuebe, have four adult children and three grandchildren.
Stuebe was appointed to the council’s Position No. 3 seat in March 2021 and was elected to the position by voters in November 2021.
On Sept. 26, Stuebe said he was “humbled” by the council’s appointment to serve as Washougal’s mayor.
“I’ve got a lot to learn, but I’m just very proud,” Stuebe said.
Earlier in the week, during a Coffee with a Cop event at a Washougal Starbucks, Stuebe told The Post-Record that if appointed to serve as the city’s mayor, he would concentrate on bringing more energy and commerce to Washougal’s historic downtown. He said he would like to see more in-person events in Washougal that help build community spirit.
In his “vision statement” on the Washougal City Council’s website, Stuebe said he hopes “to serve my community and be an active part in the continuation of growing a small city that cares for their neighbors and one where we all are proud, respectful and responsible to each other.”
Stuebe was sworn in as the city’s mayor on the evening of Sept. 26. He will serve in that position through at least November 2023, when voters will choose a new mayor to serve the remainder of Ramos’ four-year term, which runs through the end of 2025.
New mayor pro tem also appointed
The Washougal council members also voted Sept. 26 to appoint Councilman Ernie Suggs as the new mayor pro tem.
The city opened its three-week application period for applicants interested in serving on the council and being appointed to the council’s Position No. 3 seat left vacant when Stuebe moved into the No. 1 mayoral seat last week.
Applications for the vacant council seat will be due Oct. 18.
Washougal City Manager David Scott said the “general rule of thumb” is that if the city receives more than “six to eight” applicants, the council will have a meeting to “whittle that number down” before setting a date to interview applicants and name Stuebe’s council replacement.
The council will likely interview applicants for the Position No. 3 seat during a meeting in late October or early November.