Two council members challenge incumbent for Cathlamet mayor
July 29, 2021
With three candidates vying to be the mayor of Cathlamet, ballots were mailed to town residents for an August primary to decide which two candidates will continue to the general election in November. Ballots can be returned by mail, but must be postmarked on or before next Tuesday.
They can also be dropped off at ballot drop boxes at the Wahkiakum County Courthouse, Johnson Park in Rosburg, and the Skamokawa Resort before 8 p.m. August 3.
Voters can register and vote or update their address in person until 8 p.m. on election day.
The Eagle asked the three candidates three questions: Why are you running for mayor? How would you define or describe your role as mayor? And, briefly, what would you hope to accomplish in the next four years?
Here are their responses:
Mayor Dale Jacobson, incumbent
I wish to continue what I think are important projects such as the waterfront park and an equitable rate system for our utilities users to mention a couple. My job as mayor is to continue a smooth working public works system and to make sure our council meetings are effective. I hope to continue to work in good faith with our port, county, law enforcement, fire department and emergency services.
David Olson, current town council member
I am running for mayor because by virtue of training and experience I will be very effective delivering positive leadership and results to the citizens and families of the Town I love.
The mayor is the chief executive officer (CEO) of the town, responsible for a multi-million dollar budget, essential public utilities, and effective leadership that commands respect and delivers tangible results on behalf of the town council, local and regional governmental and private partners, and most importantly the citizens of Cathlamet, who are ultimately the mayor’s boss.
Cathlamet is too small a place to afford a City Manager or Administrator, so the mayor must be experienced and capable of developing a budget, presiding over the town council, and overseeing town staff and essential city services. As a prior local government manager for 30 plus years, recognized for my leadership, I am highly experienced in these areas and will hit the ground running. If elected, Cathlamet citizens can count on me to achieve real results efficiently and responsibly based on priorities set by the good folks of our town.
There are many challenges. It will take everyone working together to accomplish it all. I am skilled at bringing together different groups and different skill sets to accomplish things that would not be possible in isolation. Partnerships, transparency, civility and community support are essential for productive results. After two years on the town council, I have a record of delivering results so voters can count on me delivering on my commitments. Having said this, here is a short list, not exhaustive in the least:
--Economic revitalization: Sorely needed in our small community which has been stricken by the pandemic, underemployment, and lack of jobs and opportunities. This starts with Main Street redevelopment, remediation of the “dead zone” created by the Columbia Saloon, more affordable housing, better broadband connections, and stable and affordable economic support for our distressed school system. My focus on heritage projects helps bring visitors to Cathlamet who along with local citizens will also benefit from downtown WiFi and a new high power EV charging station made possible by a grant I helped write. Downtown Cathlamet and our region will continue to benefit from these endeavors.
--Utility rate remediation: The town sewer utility is over-leveraged with a small customer base as well as high rates and service methodologies not well adapted or fairly allocated among utility ratepayers. I will do everything possible to undertake specific measures to improve this situation and bring fairness and attainable relief to town utility customers.
--- Waterfront Park: The town’s plans for Waterfront Park adjacent to Elochoman Marina have languished for several years and the town recently failed to win critical state support for the project, coming up largely empty while neighboring communities won a far higher level of support. We can and must do better. This starts with an active partnership approach, e.g. Town, port, county, seeking committed state resources, working with our legislative delegation, and delivering real results of which we can all be proud for one of the most pristine municipally-owned waterfront areas remaining in the Lower Columbia.
These are only a few examples of goals I will seek to accomplish by bringing new leadership and earning community support. So much else remains to be done, such as finishing the town comprehensive plan and securing the future of the priceless Julia Butler Hansen Heritage Center.
Not least, we need to do everything possible to support and resource our longstanding and long-suffering fishing, timber and natural resource-dependent communities and families.
Working together, we can accomplish so much. I have really appreciated the chance to meet Cathlamet voters in recent weeks and hear their views. Let’s handle every issue and challenge as if we are living in the earliest days of a revitalized Cathlamet!
Robert Stowe, current town council member
I have entered the race for mayor because I believe I can make a difference. As a council member, I see opportunities and areas of concern in Cathlamet. My wife and I retired here. We bought a house in Glen Gate, and I joined Tsuga Art Gallery. In short, I have a stake in seeing Cathlamet prosper, grow and become even more beautiful than it currently presents.
Cathlamet is a municipality that is headed by a mayor and guided by a five-person council. As a current council member I see a town that needs structure and leadership. As mayor, I will supply the guidance Cathlamet sorely needs. The town needs new investments and businesses We need to provide sustainable jobs for our youth. For too long, students have been leaving Cathlamet because there are no jobs available. These students are a precious resource and we need to stop the brain drain as they graduate and leave the county. I plan to continue working with the council, the marina, the port, the county and the state to help Cathlamet grow to fulfill its potential.
Cathlamet is at a critical junction. We need to move forward and take a more proactive stance in creating a business welcoming environment, while still retaining the small-town atmosphere that makes Cathlamet so unique. Downtown is a priority. With several empty store fronts, Main Street needs an infusion of business. Our waterfront area needs attention. After years of talking, it’s time to act. Quality of life matters, but we need to attract people and jobs to add to our base.
Now that the why is out of the way, let’s move on to how are we as a town going to move forward. We need to decide what kind of town we want to be. Do we want to bring in business that may change the tone of the town? Do we want to be a fishing hot spot, catering to the needs of sports enthusiasts? Do we want to be the chic little town with bed and breakfasts and art galleries? Cathlamet is doing okay, but I think we can do much better. Right now we have empty store fronts that need filled. We have a large area by the waterfront that’s begging for development.
I have been working with Washington State’s Commerce Economic Development Agency to help find ways to attract business to our town. We need outside investments to grow. I have also been working with The Department of Ecology in an attempt to restructure our loan on the waste water treatment plant to a more manageable debt load.
Cathlamet is a jewel in the rough on the Columbia River. I want to bring in the polish and shape the town into a destination spot that will honor our businesses, our culture and our love of Cathlamet.