In a bid to retain his seat representing District No. 3 on the Centralia City Council, first-term incumbent Max Vogt will face two challengers this August during the primary election.
This year’s primary will take place Tuesday, Aug. 3. The Chronicle is profiling Lewis County races with two or more candidates in the leadup to the election. The two candidates in each race who get the most votes move on to the general election in November.
Rhoda Angove, an office manager at Angove Family Medicine, and transit activist Kurtis Engle are challenging Vogt for the seat. Whoever wins the seat in November will be elected to a four-year term starting in January.
Vogt, 63, a real estate designated broker who’s been doing business in the area for about 27 years, is leaning on his six years of experience on the Centralia City Council to sway voters to allow him another term. His district encompasses mostly areas east of downtown with large swaths of the Edison District.
Over the last four years, Vogt has intermittently served as mayor pro-tem, a council position that assigns him backup mayoral duties.
On Tuesday, he was appointed mayor by a vote of the council. He replaces Susan Luond, who resigned recently as the city’s leading elected official.
Vogt said he hasn’t missed a regular business meeting or study session since his appointment to the council in 2015. He said he wants to stay on the council to continue work on important issues affecting constituents, including flood reduction projects and following through on the city’s strategic plan.
“The experience I have, to me, is very important for the continuity — to make the city run well. You need experience,” he said. “There’s no substitute for experience when you’re on a council that runs a city.”
Centralia and the greater Lewis County area are also going through big changes with housing. As interest from developers grows in the area, Vogt said it will be about finding ways for the city to mitigate pains associated with short- and long-term growth.
“Developers are now showing interest. We are the place builders want to come to,” Vogt said. “Sewers is where it starts. We have to get the sewers out toward Harrison Avenue … We’re looking into that now to develop infrastructure.”
The city council at its June meeting voted to sign off on the city’s streetscape improvement project and direct staff to begin construction this year. The completed project will include new signage, street and corridor improvements, pedestrian safety upgrades and a new Harrison Avenue gateway sign.
Vogt said he’s been proud of that collaborative work.
“This is about making our city more beautiful and pleasant, visually, and also some safety measures we’re putting in. But it is also going to make our citizens proud because you can see it,” Vogt said. “It’s something everybody shares.”
He is also a big proponent of the non-partisan, community service-style approach to local politics, adding that he believes “our country is best run by the middle. When you’re a city councilman, you represent every citizen in Centralia — not based on party or religious belief — you represent every citizen.”
He said he’s also been proud of the council’s work to create a transportation benefit district four years ago. The taxing district brings in around $650,000 each year to the city.
Vogt has been involved with the Lodging Tax Advisory Committee, the Centralia Downtown Association, the city Historical Society, the Southwest Washington Clean Air Committee and the Lewis County Solid Waste Advisory Committee, among other boards and groups.
Angove, 34, has lived in southern Thurston County for many years and has been involved in Centralia happenings since she was a child. She works in medicine and has been heavily involved with Bethel Church since a young age.
She’s worked at Angove Family Medicine for about six years. Prior to her current position, she was working at Marriott Hotels and Resorts in Seattle. She holds a bachelor’s degree in international business from Oral Roberts University.
This is Angove’s first campaign for public office.
Angove said she’s running for office because she’s passionate about helping local businesses succeed and would like to help bring out the best that Centralia has to offer.
“I just feel like Centralia has a ton of potential and that we could really take it to the next level here and really just develop it more by boosting our small businesses and just bringing people to our city, to spend their money. Really to just bring back our small-town charm,” Angove said.
She said she’d like to help make Centralia into a “little more of a destination,” referencing the success the NW Sports Hub has had in bringing outside dollars into the community.
When it comes to housing, Angove said she’d like to see the city in a more shovel-ready position in order to work in a more efficient fashion with developers.
“I think we need to be ready when developers come in,” she said. “We just want to be ready when opportunity comes our way.”
Angove said the most urgent issue with the city is preserving people’s constitutional rights, specifically referencing the First and Second Amendments.
She said she’d be in favor of introducing a Second Amendment sanctuary ordinance or resolution — a proposal similar in scope to one that’s been recommended to county commissioners by Sheriff Rob Snaza — to address those concerns.
“I just feel like it’s such a basic thing. If we can’t say what we think, if we can’t protect ourselves through the right to bear arms, what do we have, really?” she said. “If that’s preserved, great. Then we can move on to the next issue. If that’s not preserved, how is someone going to feel safe to express their ideas?”
If you’re a regular voter, you’ve probably seen Kurtis Engle’s name on the ballot before.
Engle, 58, has lived in Centralia for about 10 years and says he’s run five campaigns for elected office, most recently last August for an open seat representing Washington’s 20th Legislative District.
He holds no prior elected experience.
Engle, a disabled Navy veteran, is focused on getting elected in order to serve on the Twin Transit Authority Board. He has several grievances with Twin Transit.
One of the three seats on the authority board is filled by a Centralia city councilor.
Engle said Twin Transit needs to “quit screwing around” and “wasting time.” If elected, he said, he’d work to create greater efficiencies on routes, hit more grocery stores and work to ensure Centralians get timelier rides.
“Everybody eats and everybody needs to get to the store,” he said.
He also holds fairly lofty goals when it comes to energy. Engle said he’d like to see the city build a “nuclear power plant factory,” which would allow it to build and sell power plants all over the world. He holds skepticism toward wind and solar projects that have been popping up in recent years, and is against building a flood retention facility near Pe Ell, which he said would “dump the valley clean, right into Grays Harbor.”
According to the Lewis County Auditor’s Office, July 26 is the last day to register or update existing voter registration by mail, online or at a driver’s license office for the upcoming August election. Voters can still register in-person to vote up until 8 p.m. the day of election at the Lewis County Auditor’s Office.
Ballots should begin to arrive in mailboxes for registered voters starting next week. Ballots should be postmarked by Aug. 3 or returned to a ballot drop box by 8 p.m. the day of the election.
More information on Lewis County Elections can be found online at www.elections.lewiscountywa.gov.
More information on Engle can be found in the Lewis County voters’ pamphlet.
More information on Angove can be found on her Facebook page located at this link: https://www.facebook.com/Vote-Angove-105822241697143.
More information on Vogt can be found on his Facebook page located at this link: https://www.facebook.com/reelectmaxvo/.