Mike Dalesandro will remain on City Council, but decided not to seek another two years as mayor
BATTLE GROUND — Battle Ground City Council will spend part of its first meeting in 2020 selecting a new mayor. Mike Dalesandro announced on Tuesday he would not be seeking another two years in the center seat on council.
“I just kind of I feel like it’s just time to pass the baton of leadership and take a step back,” Dalesandro told Clark County Today. “I feel good about where things are. I feel like our council has done some good stuff, and I think we’ve got the group to keep doing good things.”
Dalesandro was elected to City Council in 2013, and then voted to be mayor of the city of 21,000 in 2018. He had kept the door open to being the first mayor in quite some time to serve a second two-year stint as mayor, but decided after conversations with his wife that it was time to hand the role off to the next person in line.
“Obviously, it’s not just me in this, you know,” he said, “and she has been really supportive of everything I’ve done. And, as you know, it’s crazy schedules and all kinds of stuff.”
Dalesandro has had a tumultuous year, coming under fire from Second Amendment rights advocates, including Joey Gibson and Patriot Prayer. The city has also experienced heavy turnover recently in terms of department heads, all while trying to move ahead with major projects and the Battle Ground Visioning Study.
During all of that, he also moved his family into a new home in the city, and juggled a full-time job.
“I don’t have any specific thing that triggered it, really, other than … those conversations with my wife,” says Dalesandro. “Thinking about what we’ve been juggling with our personal lives and stuff.”
Following the decision not to put forward a 2nd Amendment Sanctuary City ordinance earlier this year, Dalesandro says he has been subjected to hate, and even threats for taking a stance against groups he has labeled “outsiders” during the run-up to the Nov. 5 general election.
“Unfortunately the campaign season was very heated,’’ Dalesandro wrote in a Facebook post on Nov. 7, two days after the general election. “Lies, personal attacks, threats of violence, etc. It’s unlike anything we’ve seen in this community. Typically we say ‘hey both sides are responsible, it’s politics.’ This year couldn’t be further from that assumption. It all changed the day Patriot Prayer decided to use our community to gain attention and more funding.
“I’m not naive,’’ Dalesandro added. “Divisions existed in our city before Patriot Prayer came into town, but it’s undeniable those divisions deepened once they entered our community. The Patriot Prayer candidates and their supporters exhibited reprehensible, disgusting ‘ends justify the means’ tactics while hypocritically using their Christian faith and values as a central tenant [sic] of their campaigns. It’s not hard to find the proof on social media in their own words, and I encourage you to look around. I’m sickened by their vile tactics and their perversion of my Christian faith all in an attempt just win elections.
“After seeing them exhibiting this behavior, its [sic] pretty clear there is nothing they won’t say or do to get what they want,’’ Dalesandro wrote. “We know more is coming. Many of you have reached out to me concerned and scared. I promise, hate will have no safe harbor in our community. Love wins, always.’’
But, he says, the political and personal nastiness hasn’t factored into his decision to give up the title of mayor.
“It was really about just feeling like, I felt like I was in a good place and I felt like the council would probably best be served just in general by us rotating out to a new person to come into a leadership position,’’ Dalesandro said.
Who that person might be, Dalesandro won’t say. Current council members Philip Johnson and Deputy Mayor Shane Bowman have both previously served two-year stints as mayor. Neither has sounded eager to take up the mantel again.
Under Battle Ground city rules, no member of City Council can serve as mayor for longer than four years. Dalesandro says he felt as if the previous mayors’ decisions to only hold the office for two years had set sort of an “unwritten rule.”
“The position is the position and not the person,” he says. “The position is more important, and as I thought about that as well, it leaned on me to consider not doing it.”
Dalesandro says he didn’t seek out the position of mayor, but took it on in order to explore ways to help reconnect with the community.
“I believe our outreach efforts through the community visioning process, as well as, engaging with our faith community, youth sports leagues, and our schools all have made significant progress toward build connections and community,” Dalesandro said in a post on his Facebook page announcing his decision. “There’s always more work we can do and I look forward to continuing our efforts, together. I’m so proud and thankful of these opportunities to build community with you and I’m eternally grateful for those new partnerships and friendships.”
Daleandro previously ran for Clark County Council Chair in 2015, finishing less than three percentage points behind eventual winner Marc Boldt. He has not ruled out another try for higher office in Clark County.