On April 6, Washougal City Council Member Jon Russell came to US Digital for an interview with David Madore.
Russell and fellow City Council Member Michael Delavar walked out of a council meeting on April 4 when a vote was held with two council members absent.
Russell invites anyone to e-mail or call his cell phone 360-624-4934 if they have any questions.
During the interview Russell mentioned that the City of Washougal YouTube page has videos of all the latest council meetings. The latest meeting posted as of April 19 was from Jan. 10.
Video one timeline:
00:00 Russell explains the “walk out” at a Washougal City Council meeting. After Russell and another council member left there were only two council members at the meeting. Four are needed for a quorum.
00:58 Council members adjourned. Mayor asked the council to pass an ethics committee that evening without a formal discussion about it. Russell says proper protocol needs to be followed and explains what the procedure should have been to appoint members to a committee.
03:00 Russell says he and the other council member walked out of the meeting in order to delay the appointment decision. Russell tells Madore what the Mayor’s response was when questioned and his reply to Mayor.
04:07 Russell says council meeting and exchange between he and the Mayor was recorded. Every meeting is posted on YouTube.
04:55 Russell says emotions were in check during the meeting. Council member Delavar walked out first, then Russell, bringing the meeting to a halt. During the next meeting, Russell says the whole council will discuss the issues before them.
06:13 Russell cites RCWs and says the Mayor, as the Chairman of the meeting, is not allowed to enter into debate.
06:42 Madore says this story could easily be blown out of proportion.
08:05 Russell tells about the communication between he and the Mayor since the meeting. Russell says the situation is unfortunate and would like do what’s best for the city and move past politics.
Video two timeline:
00:00 Russell discusses the “health” of the council member business, the relationships and the senior/junior interactions in it.
01:41 Russell explains what the purpose of government for the city of Washougal. He says it’s three-fold: providing emergency responders, transportation and creating a thriving business climate.
04:18 In an effort to be an attractive business friendly city, Russell says they reduced property taxes for the first time. In contrast to Vancouver, Washougal also cut their budget.
07:05 Madore tells Russell about his opportunity to ride along with a volunteer Sheriff. He says that the City of Vancouver has made volunteer officers illegal. Madore is thankful that the city of Washougal has made volunteering possible.
08:40 Russell talks about the council adopting a moratorium on impact fees up front until occupancy. Madore sums up Washougal’s ability to be financially responsible.
10:00 Russell states that while the council members have their differences, they are able to make a lot of progress in many areas. Russell conducted a study to find out if and when the council members’ votes were split. He tells about the battle over round-abouts on Highway 14, why they were proposed, and his desire to have a new diamond interchange at 27th Street.
Video three timeline:
00:00 Russell and Madore talk about the upcoming city elections. Russell’s opinion is that people are disappointed in government. Russell says there is no mission statement for the city. Washougal is not a chartered city so they don’t have a charter to provide guiding principles.
02:58 Russell says his position isn’t up for another two years and he’s a big believer in self-imposed term limits so he won’t be running again in 2013. He tells Madore why he believes in term limits. He believes the council member positions are about the people and believes elected officials should self-govern themselves with term limits.
04:44 Russell tell Madore what being a citizen representative is like for him and how he remains balanced. He says is favorite part of his job is being a problem solver. He gives his cell phone number showing his willingness to be readily available to citizens.
08:13 Conversation turns to CRC Project and Light Rail. Russell says residents of Washougal who use C-Tran will be affected by the project.
09:58 Madore tells his understanding of how funding works. The entity that receives the funding can never declare the project to be a failure or else they have to return or pay all monies back.
10:42 Russell says that even though city officials may say they don’t have any “say” over light rail or tolls, they do. He tells Madore that he could give him many examples of this.
11:46 Madore says those who want to promote this project are technically telling the truth when they say it’s not their decision, but the federal government’s. But Madore says it’s disingenuous when they downplay the influence of the local elected officials as representatives of the local people.
Video four timeline:
00:24 Russell tells about an example of the influence officials have when one council member vote caused a phone call to two Mayors.
02:05 Madore talks about Patty Murray’s approach to getting the Light Rail project to proceed.
02:34 Russell tells the “politically dirty little secret.” Russell says the number one proponent for this light rail project is President Obama. He outlines how he thinks Obama could benefit from the light rail project moving forward.
04:16 Madore says he is “all for” creating jobs but the unsustainable light rail project will create public job that the private industry will have to support. He says C-Tran was directed to follow through with a light rail vote but hasn’t yet. Madore says the public will be responsible to pay for the project.
07:16 Russell suggests that the way to avert all of this is by electing people who are able to independently think. Madore adds to Russell’s comment and says that elected persons need to be principle driven as well.
09:10 Russell says the hard part about recruiting candidates with principles is that they are productive citizens — some are business owners, a lot of them are family oriented and many don’t have time for politics. He says many of the available candidates are the opposite of that and are interested in prestige, the power and influence that the position buys them.
10:24 Russell tells Madore what his time commitment and monthly salary is as a council member. Madore talks about council members like Russell being good candidates for congressman or state representative. Russell and Madore talk about Abraham Lincoln’s history winning and losing elections.
12:54 Madore commends Russell for his faithfulness and integrity.