Philip Johnson was also selected for a new term as the city’s deputy mayor
BATTLE GROUND — Like many things surrounding Battle Ground City Council these days, the selection of a new mayor and deputy mayor didn’t happen without a bit of drama behind the scenes.
Ultimately, in a 4-3 vote, Adrian Cortes was named to replace Mike Dalesandro as mayor on Monday night, with Philip Johnson returning to the role of deputy mayor, also in a 4-3 vote. Johnson was nominated by former deputy mayor Shane Bowman, who attended the meeting via telephone while home with the flu. Johnson served as deputy mayor previously in 2014-15, and was the city’s mayor prior to Dalesandro taking over the role.
The runner-up for mayor was Brian Munson, who was nominated by newly elected councilor Shauna Walters, who took her oath of office Monday night, along with Johnson and Bowman, who were re-elected in November. Walters also nominated Cherish DesRochers for deputy mayor, after Dalesandro decided to support Johnson instead.
Cortes is serving his second term on the Battle Ground City Council. He served one term from 2012-2015 after serving as chair of the city’s Planning Commission.
“As mayor, what I’m going to look at, through my lens, is what I look through when I’m at home with my daughters or in my classroom with my students,” Cortes said Monday after chairing his first council meeting, “and that’s being respectful, being responsible and being kind.”
Cortes, who moved to Battle Ground at the age of 6, works as a special education teacher in Camas. He also has served as chair of the C-TRAN Board of Directors, but will be stepping down from a leadership role this year, though he will remain on the board.
The father of 14- and 8-year-old daughters is also working to get his doctorate in education, and teaches a university class part time.
“It’s all about balancing, you know, demands that are on your schedule,” he says. “God has given me the health and the ability to be able to do that. And I thank him for that every day.”
Dalesandro announced in December that he would not seek a second term as mayor, making him the third straight Battle Ground mayor to serve only a single term. The decision came after a difficult run-up to the general election, which saw Dalesandro become the target of a lawsuit by Joey Gibson after allegedly banning the Patriot Prayer leader from his personal Facebook page.
In an interview with Clark County Today, Dalesandro said the ugliness of the election season didn’t weigh into his decision not to seek a second term as mayor, but rather he and his wife decided the demands of a full-time job and the needs of the city had become too great.
“I feel like we’re really headed in a good direction as a community,” Dalesandro said Monday night. “I’m really honored to have been up here the last two years in leadership, but now to sit back the next two years and help where I can, where it seems best.”
In addition to Cortes, the council now has three other members who have served as mayor or deputy mayor, including Dalesandro, Johnson, and Bowman. Johnson will be serving his second two-year term as deputy mayor.
Cortes says knowing the rest of the council was split 3-3 over his nomination as mayor, and Johnson’s selection as deputy mayor, isn’t a sign that the council can’t work together.
“I respect all of my colleagues, even if they have a different opinion than I do,” he said. “That’s not a bad thing. That’s a good thing. And so, you know, it’s going to be a good term as mayor.”