The city of Washougal will have a new mayor in 2022, and a longtime council member wants the job.
Molly Coston will not seek another term as President of Washougal City Council in the November general election. Instead, she is hoping to gain voter approval to continue in her current No.5 position, to which she was appointed in September 2020 following Ray Kutch’s resignation from the board.
Long-time council member Paul Greenlee will run for office for council No. 1, which was appointed mayor after voters approved a proposal in November 2020.
Greenlee, a board member since 2007, had been considering running for mayor for “at least (the) last eight years.”
“I have the greatest respect for Molly,” he said. “She told me a while ago that she was not going to run for mayor this time around, and she wanted to be on council again. It created the opportunity. (Previously) I would look at the situation and say, “If I run, who else is going to run?” Is there any chance they can win? If so, what would that mean for the city? I really looked for what was best for the city, and that’s what convinced me twice that it was not yet time to run. The opportunity is there (this time around) to do more for my city, and I see no downside. “
Coston pointed to “the time (work) takes” as the main reason for his decision not to continue as mayor.
“I just think, even in a strong council form of government, it’s a very time-consuming job,” she says. “I felt after a while that was the reason for my existence, just to be mayor. I have grandchildren who are not fit. I have siblings, nieces and nephews. I want to have a little more flexibility to travel and spend time with my extended family. I really want (I want to be able to) say, “I’m going to be gone for this next board meeting.” I could technically do it now, but (it’s different because I’m the) ‘public face’. “
It’s a role Greenlee is ready to take on.
“Most importantly, you are the face of the city – you definitely go to all the ribbon cutting and so on – but there is also an opportunity for real leadership,” he said. . “Not in the sense of giving orders, but in the organization of the interests of the peoples for the construction of a community, the construction of a consensus. I’m ready to go. I think it will be a challenge. It’s not something I’ve done before, but I have a lot of experience and I believe that I will be a good mayor, that I will move the city forward.
Coston considered stepping down from the board altogether, but found that she is still very interested in serving her community in a variety of ways, many of which cannot fulfill her current role.
“I think I can still be very effective, maybe even more effective, as a (regular) board member,” she said. “I have a few small pet projects that I would like to get more involved in. I always wanted to find better ways of community engagement, to organize forums with a topic and exchanges. We didn’t really do them during COVID so I think as a board member I might have the opportunity to strategize, really make this work and be more of a person. in the background, so the mayor, whoever he is, if they’re interested, could be the leader for that and I could navigate some of that.
Coston was elected mayor of Washougal in November 2017. The following year, the city adopted a mayoral council system that made Coston a “weak mayor” and a voting member of the council. When Kutch resigned, the board opted to move Coston into his position rather than fill it with an external candidate to keep the board at eight members. But by then, Coston was already considering stepping away from the role of mayor.
“This is something that (Greenlee) has wanted to do for quite some time,” she said. “He was hoping for the opportunity. He said to me: “I will never run against you”. It had no bearing (on my decision), other than that I knew there would be a candidate who would know about political decisions and how to make good policy and do a good job.
Greenlee, who moved to Washougal in 2000, was appointed to city council on April 2, 2007 and elected in 2007, 2009, 2013 and 2017.
“In my late teens or early twenties, I joined an organization – I can’t remember which one – and we made a commitment to deliver not only not less, but more than what was given to us, Greenlee said. “I’ve almost always tried to do it, and (running for town hall) is another opportunity.”