Write-in candidate for Camas mayor shares his thoughts

Camas resident and write-in candidate for mayor Barry McDonnell speaks with ClarkCountyToday.com about his choice to run

CAMAS — Camas resident Barry McDonnell is now running a write-in campaign for the position of mayor in the city. McDonnell was the first of two write-in candidates, Camas City Councilor Melissa Smith is the other, to announce their candidacy to unseat Mayor Shannon Turk. 

Barry McDonnell
Barry McDonnell

“The response has just been overwhelming and it’s just empowered me. It’s made me feel so strong and made me feel like this is the right thing to do,” McDonnell said. “It’s fun. It’s exciting. It’s America.” 

McDonnell’s platform centers around what he says is a lack of transparency in current Camas leadership, as well as the growing controversy surrounding Proposition 2, also known as the “Pool Bond;” which McDonnell strongly opposes. 

Clark County Today recently published a Q & A with Smith, first published by Lacamas Magazine.

Clark County Today spoke to McDonnell at length about several key issues facing Camas voters this year, as well as why he believes he is the right choice for mayor.

Question: What compelled you to initiate this campaign now as opposed to back in May when you could have been placed on the ballot?

Up until a few weeks ago, I had no intentions. I’ve been frustrated, I think, with the last few years and just the way city officials have been leading us. When I looked at this upcoming bond around the pool, and that we had an appointed mayor that wasn’t elected, running unopposed, I think it triggered something where I really … wanted someone else to run. 

I said to myself that if no one had run by Oct. 1 that I would put my name in the hat. And on Oct. 2, I put it out there. I just felt a calling. I just felt like I could go in there and I could make the changes, and it would be a big commitment. But it was a commitment that I’m willing to do, because I think it’s an important one.

Camas Mayor Shannon Turk (left) and City Administrator Pete Capell (right). Photo by Jacob Granneman
Camas Mayor Shannon Turk (left) and City Administrator Pete Capell (right). Photo by Jacob Granneman

Question: Do you lack confidence in the ability of Mayor Turk and City Administrator Pete Capell to govern properly?

Yeah, I think that I definitely feel like between our city admin and our current mayor, I feel there is a disconnect between the citizens and what is happening. And I do have a lot of concerns with some of the decisions and the way they’ve made some of the decisions as I’ve kind of dug into it.

Question: What are some of the issues that inspired you to run for mayor?

I think Prop 2 ($78 million Camas Aquatic Center project) was one that I think is pretty well known at this point. I was looking at the Bank of America property that we purchased recently. The price of that was initially projected a $400,000, and it’s gone up to over a million dollars at this point. And looking at that, this was a non-bid contract that we have and when I took a look at the company that we hired, I actually went to the website and on the front page is a picture of Pete (Capell) with a group of individuals. That is a big conflict of interest when it comes to our operating.

And I think when it comes to the pool situation as well, I think one of the most troubling things for me was the fact that I didn’t feel like there was transparency. When it came to the fact that we’re going to be losing close to a million dollars annually, if we have some great numbers of people signing up. 

That information wasn’t shared with us when it was asked for and it was actually released by, not the city, but it was released first by citizens, and then the city put that information out correctly. Which leads me to believe that they did have that information, but for some reason they were trying to keep it from the from the citizens. And that,to me is very troubling. 

Camas residents are seen here at a recent community open house to hear updates on the proposed $78 million community aquatics center. Photo by Jacob Granneman
Camas residents are seen here at a recent community open house to hear updates on the proposed $78 million community aquatics center. Photo by Jacob Granneman

Question: What are your thoughts on Proposition 2 specifically? 

Yeah, I mean, from a financial standpoint, it makes zero sense. From a location standpoint, I think it’s going to be way more complicated than we anticipated at this point. And I think it’s such a beautiful area to put something of that magnitude. That’s going to just draw more and more traffic and more congestion. Doesn’t seem like the right thing at all for the community.

Question: What are your biggest concerns with current city leadership?

There’s a few things and I kind of break it down into, kind of, three areas. When it comes to the land, I feel like again, that some of the decisions we make are influenced a lot by consultants and influenced a lot by developers versus the people that are making a lot of decisions. 

And then I think when it comes to communication there’s a disconnect there; when it comes to the willingness to talk to the public, when it comes to city council meetings. When people give their three minutes, there is no response. And that’s a decision the city has decided that they want to operate. When it comes to town hall meetings, and when it comes to answering questions to the citizens, there’s an unwillingness at times or an unwillingness period.

Question: What qualifications do you have to be mayor?

I have a background in loss prevention have been doing that for the last 19 years. The last 17 years have been management positions where I’ve been leading teams. I have four wonderful kids, an amazing wife and have been successful enough that my wife has been able to be a stay at home mom. And one of the things that we really wanted was a place to settle down. And that was what we’ve been searching for actively. And when we found Camas, this is where we really decided to, to just set down our roots. 

You know, part of what I think will make me a good candidate is that I have the ability to lead, I have the ability to inspire and have the ability to get things done. I have the ability to surround myself with the right people, and know who the right people are; listen to the right people. I think that I can truly represent the citizens of Camas. That’s what my intentions are … Put some policies around protecting lands, changing the way that we communicate, open up that dialogue and set an example by living with the most integrity or approaching the job with the most integrity and honesty that it deserves. 

Question: What sets you apart from the other candidates in this race?

You know, I think that at the end of the day, my vision is helping the citizens create a vision for the next 20 years. I’m not coming in there saying, ‘This is what we should be doing.’ I want to make sure that we have the democratic process where the citizens are the ones that are determining how this town is going to grow, what is important to them? What are the things that need to change? And what are the things that we want to continue to grow? And I think that’s the standpoint that I’m coming from. I really want to connect with the citizens and be a voice for them in determining what it is we need to and then I want to create policies and procedures to ensure that going forward.

Camas Mayoral Debate

Clark County Today and Lacamas Magazine have joined together to organize a Camas Mayoral Debate to be held Tue., Oct. 22 from 6:30-8 p.m. at the Camas Grass Valley Fire Station.

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