Camas Ward 1 Position 2 candidates discuss rapid growth, recreation, policing and racial justice

LWV Forum features Geoerl Niles, Marilyn Dale-Boerke, and Shawn High competing for Camas votes in Ward 1

A League of Women Voters of Clark County (LVW) candidate forum held Saturday featured three of the four candidates for Ward 1, position 2 on the Camas City Council. The top two will advance from the Aug. 3 primary election to the November general election. 

In this round, the LWV only hosted candidates who will be on the primary election ballot. It was the first of four forums to be held for primary ballot candidates.

The four candidates competing in the Camas City Council race for this position are Geoerl Niles, Marilyn Dale-Boerke, Gary Perman, and Shawn High. Perman was out of town on business and unable to participate.

Each debate opened with candidates being allowed to state their qualifications and why they are running for office. They had one minute for each question, and 90 seconds for their final statement.

The League of Women Voters and CVTV broadcast candidate forums as an opportunity for voters to see and hear from candidates running for public office. In the primary, only races where three or more candidates are competing appear on the Aug. 3 ballot. Graphic CVTV
The League of Women Voters and CVTV broadcast candidate forums as an opportunity for voters to see and hear from candidates running for public office. In the primary, only races where three or more candidates are competing appear on the Aug. 3 ballot. Graphic CVTV

Camas Ward 1 Position 2

Geoerl Niles is a pastor and also serves as a member of the Camas Planning Commission. He served as chair of the parking commission for six years. He shared he has experience as a human resources director for the Portland Spirit, and is known as a good listener. He expects people will be “boisterous” in voicing their concerns and he looks forward to representing the people.

Marilyn Dale-Boerke has worked in education for 20 years, working her way up from secretary to now being an administrator for the Camas School District. She served on the Camas-Washougal Community Chest. She agreed with Niles that there is “unrest” among the citizens and wants to harness that energy. She believes Camas residents are at a pivotal point in their city and their nation.

Shawn High shared his experience on both the Library Board and the Planning Commission on the zoning committee. He spoke about the decision to have Camas split from the Fort Vancouver Regional Library and remain independent. He is a small business owner in Camas according to his Voters’ Pamphlet statement. 

Camas currently has a mayor-council form of government. Candidates were asked if they would recommend any changes to this system.

• Dale-Burke is satisfied with the current system and would not recommend any changes. High is happy with the current system, but suggested that making the compensation package more competitive for a “strong mayor position” should be considered because the responsibilities continue to grow with the population. 

• High noted that Camas has had a lot of retired people serving as mayor and alluded to the difficulties Barry McDonnell had in trying to serve as mayor while also doing his full-time job.

• “I think the question is more about how do we work together versus is a strong mayor or a strong council situation,” said Niles, “It’s really important that we understand that our wonderful citizens of this town are requiring our leaders to work well together.” He noted the diversity in the city and emphasized it’s important that people are willing to work together.

The next question was about the rapid growth in Camas. Candidates were encouraged to include a response regarding the issue of affordable housing.

• High mentioned the “staggering permit costs” as an obstacle to affordable housing. 

• Niles doesn’t believe it’s a problem that can be fixed “just by throwing money at it”. He was cautious about interchanging affordable housing with low income housing. 

• Dale-Boerke noted the mill property being decommissioned and believes there is an opportunity to create affordable housing on mill property. She also believes there are opportunities for development on the North Shore.

When it came to recreation opportunities, Niles mentioned the need to clean up Lacamas Lake. Dale-Boerke emphasized Camas’ 14 parks, 22 miles of trails, and over 1,000 acres of open space. High said the city already has a process for cleaning up the lake, and it just needs to be implemented properly.

Camas Ward 1 Position 2 candidates Marilyn Dale-Boerke, Shawn High, and Geoerl Niles are shown here. Candidate Gary Perman did not participate in the forum. Photos courtesy of the candidates
Camas Ward 1 Position 2 candidates Marilyn Dale-Boerke, Shawn High, and Geoerl Niles are shown here. Candidate Gary Perman did not participate in the forum. Photos courtesy of the candidates

The candidates were asked what they would do to promote social and racial justice in the community. 

• Dale-Boerke mentioned seeing injustices where students were treated differently because of the color of their skin. She said: “I’m a privileged, you know, white, middle class female.” She wants to help people “understand the bias that they have, that they don’t even know it. I didn’t know I was biased.”

• High mentioned former Mayor McDonnell required policy change staff reports to show how it impacts inequalities and diversity within the city. 

• Niles focused on communication and valuing the people. “We have an amazing amount of diversity coming into our city, many flavors, many cultures coming in, and they all have value.,” he said.

Candidates were asked for suggestions for improving recruitment, retention and accountability of the police force. 

• High noted the experienced, small police force, emphasizing he values their long-term retention. He is a fan of police wearing body cameras as a means to ensure everyone is able to see and hear what happens. 

• Niles spoke about the fact that there is a nationwide debate, and how sad it is that children no longer aspire to be a law enforcement officer or a firefighter. He truly values the police and firemen, and wants to restore the honor they deserve. 

• Dale-Boerke spoke highly of her interaction with school resource officers and wished all officers had the opportunity to interact with Camas youth. She mentioned her grandson wants to be a police officer.

Ballots will be mailed this coming Friday. People can register to vote, either online, or in person up to the day of the primary.

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