Camas voters will soon decide who will lead their city for the next four years.
There are two candidates vying to be Camas’ mayor on Nov. 7: Camas Mayor Steve Hogan and his opponent, Randal Friedman.
Both candidates recently spoke with The Post-Record about why they chose to run for Camas’ “strong mayor” position, a role that, with the assistance of the city administrator, is responsible for managing the day-to-day business of the city and for coming up with a biennial budget based on the needs of the city’s departmental leaders and the policies set by the Camas City Council.
Hogan has a long history of serving Camas as a public servant and volunteer. Prior to being elected mayor in 2021, Hogan served on the Camas City Council for 16 years and was elected by his peers as the city’s mayor pro tem in 2014, 2017 and 2021.
When he was elected mayor in 2021, the city of Camas was at a crossroads. Voters had elected a last-minute write-in mayoral candidate, Barry McDonnell, during the contentious “pool bond” election of November 2019. A little more than a year later, McDonnell had quit. His hand-picked city administrator resigned in 2021, and then, in March 2022, Camas’ fire chief resigned. One month later, Camas’ longtime police chief gave notice of his retirement.
“When I came in, Camas was a mess,” Hogan said of his early days as the city’s elected mayor. “It was clear to me that the senior staff was feeling that this was a landslide, a catastrophic failure about to happen.”
Hogan, whose professional background includes four decades as a senior manager and chief operating officer in the recycled paper, wood and steel industries, said he relied on his managerial skills as well as his coaching background to help calm Camas’ department heads.
Over the next two years, Hogan worked to recruit, hire and retain a new city administrator, police chief, fire chief, internet technology department head and community development director.
Describing himself as “a better manager than a politician,” Hogan said he loves the day-to-day business of running a city.
“I love to run enterprises, and I call ’em like I see ’em,” Hogan said. “I do think our heaviest lifts are still in front of us and that those are the things that are going to be important for Camas long after I’m gone.”
Though he may be relatively new to the Camas area, having moved to the city in 2019 after a 32-year career as a military civilian representative of the U.S. Navy to the state of California, and just before the COVID-19 pandemic upturned everyday life, Friedman has already positioned himself as an enthusiastic volunteer and follower of local politics — joining the local Rotary Club, volunteering with Meals on Wheels, becoming part of the local ivy-pulling group and participating in public comments during city council workshops and meetings.
“I have a deep love for this city,” Friedman recently told The Post-Record. “It’s a special and magical place, and I care deeply about it. I’ve met lots of good people through Rotary (Club) and downtown … and I see lots of good things, as well as things we could do better.”
Included on Friedman’s list of things he believes city leaders could improve is ensuring the Georgia-Pacific paper mill property is not only included in the city’s upcoming downtown subarea planning work, but also that the state is requiring the mill’s ongoing environmental cleanup meet standards that would someday allow people to live, work and play on the prime Camas waterfront property should the mill’s owners ever decide to completely shutter the company and sell the downtown acreage.
In December 2021, the Downtown Camas Association appointed Friedman to the 11-member community advisory group Camas Mill Cleanup Advisory Group that acts as a conduit between the public and the ongoing environmental cleanup work at the mill.
Other issues important to Friedman include addressing Camas’ affordable housing shortage, strengthening the city’s historic downtown, looking into building a public swimming pool, dealing with “forever chemicals” in the city’s water system and investigating more sustainable options for city buildings and other public infrastructure.
For a more in-depth conversation with the candidates, read coverage from The Columbian’s sister paper, the Camas-Washougal Post-Record.