All four Longview City Council races have challengers — and three of the races will require an August primary — as a result of developments on the last day for filing for elective office in Cowlitz County on Friday.
All four Kelso City Council seats, too, will have contested races.
John M. Melink, the husband of former Longview City Councilwoman Mary Jane Melink, filed late Friday against incumbent Mayor Pro Tem Mike Wallin. Mary Jane Melink decided not to run for re-election in 2017 after 12 years on the council.
John Melink, 65, told The Daily News on Friday that he decided to run late this week after seeing that Wallin did not yet have a challenger. (Wallin did not immediately return requests for comment.)
“I believe strongly that there’s a need for change (in council leadership) and I was hoping that this election there would be lots of candidates putting their name into the hat. In the last moment, I was seeing that there weren’t (any challengers), so I said ‘I’ve got the time to do it and I’ve got the desire to do it. And I think citizens of Longview deserve a choice,’” he said.
Melink was in the Marine Corps for four years and then spent 27 years in engineering maintenance and project management at Georgia Pacific Wauna paper mill near Clatskanie. He spent the last decade as project manager at the Trans- Alta power plant in Centralia. During that time, he said, he has managed groups of 350 people and handled large budgets.
After retiring in July, Melink said he felt he finally had a chance to give back to his community. He said he sees the role of council as overall guidance and policy, not “micromanaging” city staff by telling them how to do their work.
“As someone in supervision and management all my life, I believe I’m a good independent thinker and somebody that listens to the issues,” he said. “(I’m) a problem solver. That’s what I’ve done all my life.”
Also in the Longview council race, Mayor Don Jensen gained a second challenger after Ruth Kendall filed late Friday evening. Kendall initially filed for Councilman Ken Botero’s open seat, but then withdrew about three hours later and filed instead for Jensen’s council seat. (The mayor is elected from among the councilmembers after each election. If Kendall defeats Jensen, she would be a councilmember, not mayor, unless the council later appointed her to the post.)
Meanwhile, Christine Schott added her name to the contestants for Botero’s seat. She will face Spencer Boudreau and Randy Teig in an Aug. 6 primary election.
And late on Friday, Hillary Strobel filed against Councilman Scott Vydra. Erik Halvorson has also filed for the seat, meaning the three candidates will also face each other in the primary.
In the Kelso City Council race, incumbent Jim Hill filed Friday. He will face Keenan Harvey.
And Kelburn Koontz, chairman of the Cowlitz County Republican Party, filed against Kelso City Councilman David Futcher, who was mayor for a decade before the council named Nancy Malone in 2018.
The Port of Longview will also have four candidates for District 3 after George Raiter and Megan Richie filed Friday for the seat Alan Erickson was appointed to. Raiter served 12 years as a Cowlitz County commissioner, eight years on the Longview City Council and one term in the Legislature. Richie previously ran unsuccessfully for the Longview City Council in 2017.
Any offices in which three or more challengers are competing must go through the August “top two” primary, which whittles the contenders down to two, who then face off in the November general election.
A handful of other candidates also filed late Thursday and early Friday:
Woodland City Council
Position 4: Keith Bellisle
Position 5: DeeAnna Holland, Scott Peabody
Position 7: Mike Benjamin withdrew
Kalama City Council
Position 4: John Flynn
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Position 5: David Thomas
Longview School Board
Position 4: Rhonda Walker
Position 5: Tymm S. Gwayn
Kelso School Board
Position 3: Jeane Conrad
Position 5: Ron Huntington
Toutle Lake School Board
District 1: Sherry M. Schwinn
District 4: Walter R. “Cam” Hanna
Woodland School District
District 4: Doug Uno
Cowlitz 2 Fire & Rescue Commission
Position 2: Patrick Shannon Ryan
Cemetery District 1 Commission
Position 2: Melvin Kayser
Position 3: Justin T. Adkins
Cemetery District 4 Commission
Position 1: Bill Wood
Position 2: John L. Alden
Woodland Swimming Pool and Recreation District
Position 1: Megan Evans