Centralia Mayor Susan Luond said Thursday she will not pursue a second full term on the Centralia City Council, citing the large time commitment the position requires.
“I knew a year ago that — maybe longer than that — that this was very time consuming. And I have a very, very busy life and it was requiring a little more time than I could give it,” Luond told The Chronicle over the phone. “But I’ve enjoyed it, as far as getting a birds-eye view of the government and learning how a city runs. It’s been worth my time.”
Councilor Mark Westley, whose seat is also up for reelection this year, filed earlier this week to run for Luond’s open seat representing council district No. 4.
The mayor is chosen by the city council in Centralia, so he would not be getting that title unless he’s appointed later.
Westley’s at-large seat, which he was appointed to earlier this year, has attracted the attention of candidates Blake Rasmussen and Steven Hubbard thus far, according to filings on the Secretary of State’s website.
Luond said she plans on supporting Westley’s lateral move.
“Mark is just a very bright, bright man,” she said of the Adna High School teacher. “His questions that he asks the people are so right on target. They’re the questions you want people to ask … He’s going to be an excellent replacement for me. He’s going to outshine me a hundred to one.”
Luond was appointed to her position in August 2017 after the resignation of former Mayor Bonnie Canaday. She won the following November election as the only candidate.
In January 2020, Luond was appointed mayor with a majority five votes.
As mayor, she said she often represents the city at external meetings with other organizations and municipalities. She also presides over council and its business, and noted she quickly learned how time consuming the position can be.
She’s a heavily involved grandparent to two, and with their Little League games, Luond realized it was growing increasingly difficult to give the position 100%.
“I love doing yard work, and another thing is that I’m not a real big public person,” she said.
One of her highlights of working for the Centralia voters and the city has been getting to know city staff and their broad knowledge of expertise.
“I knew who some of them were, but I’ve gotten to know them and work with them on certain projects and I feel like we’re very fortunate,” Luond said. “I think the city of Centralia right now, here in time, is really fortunate because we have a really, really good group of people working for the city … We’re just really, really lucky,”
As for the next mayor, Luond said she’s not completely sure who will be chosen to assume the role. Five of the Centralia council’s seven seats are up for reelection this year, and as filing week wraps up Friday, there’s the possibility for substantial turnover.
And races are starting to take shape. Nine candidates as of Thursday morning have filed to run for open seats on the council.
Incumbent Cameron McGee so far is alone in his bid to retain his seat representing district No. 1.
Leah Daarud, secretary of the Lewis County Young Republicans group and a behavioral health worker, and Sarah Althauser, vice president of the Centralia Downtown Association’s board, were the only candidates registered for the council district No. 2 race Wednesday afternoon. That seat is currently occupied by incumbent Rebecca Staebler, who is currently serving her first full term.
“I have been actively engaged in this community for years,” Daarud wrote recently in a news release submitted to The Chronicle. “Now more than ever, it is critical to have an advocate who will engage in robust discussion, require transparency, ask the tough questions and create meaningful and lasting relationships within the community.”
Max Vogt, the incumbent currently representing district No. 3, has found challengers in Rhoda Angove, a manager at a local family clinic, and activist Kurtis Engle.
Filing week will be open online through 4 p.m. on Friday, according to the Lewis County Auditor’s Office. In order to file, candidates will need to fill out a declaration of candidacy form, pay the filing fee and provide their voters’ guide statement and photo.
Candidate filing can also be done by mail and in-person. Mailed declarations must be received by the Lewis County Auditor’s Office by 4:30 p.m. Friday.
The deadline to withdraw from the 2021 primary and general elections is 4:30 p.m. Monday, May 24.
The top two candidates in each race in the primary election in August will move on to the general election.
The following is a list of Lewis County candidates that registered for office on Wednesday and early Thursday. A full breakdown can be found online at https://bit.ly/3wemyR2.
Morton City Council
Napavine City Council
Toledo City Council
Vader City Council
Boistfort School Board
Chehalis School Board
Oakville School Board
Rochester School Board
Winlock School Board
Toledo School Board
Fire District 4 -- Morton
Fire District 5 -- Napavine
Fire District 17 -- Big Creek-Mineral
Fire District 20 -- Cowlitz-Lewis
Cemetery District 2 -- Mossyrock-Salkum
Hospital District No. 1
Water-Sewer District 4 -- Chehalis
Water-Sewer District 6 -- Lake Mayfield