Candidates for Local Office Answer Readers' Questions: Supplemental

This is an addendum to our July 2017 feature (vol. 2, issue 5; pp. 8‐11) where Logan sent a questionnaire made up of readers' questions to folks running for city council positions in Kennewick, Pasco, and Richland. For various reasons some responses came in after our print deadline. The zine includes responses from these candidates:
  • Lloyd Becker (Richland, Position 3) 
  • Abel Campos (Pasco, District 4) 
  • Eldon Eskeli (Richland, Position 7) 
  • Shane Fast (Kennewick, Ward 2) 
  • RJ Garcia (Pasco, District 4) 
  • Dori Luzzo Gilmour (Richland, Position 7) 
  • Ryan Lukson (Richland, Position 4) 
  • Shir Regev (Richland, Position 3)
This addendum includes responses from these candidates:
  • Christy Watts (Kennewick, Position 4) 
  • William (Dan) White (Richland, Position 1)
  • Ginger Wireman (Richland, Position 4)
  • Ed Pacheco (Kennewick, Position 4) -- added 07/10/2017

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Christy Watts (Kennewick, Position 4) 

How long have you been active or interested in politics? What made you decide to run for local office? 
I have always been interested in politics In 2001 Initiative 695 was passed. The result was that Ben Franklin Transit (BFT) and most transit properties in Washington State lost funding that they had previously received from the motor vehicle excise tax. Believing that public transportation was vital to a thriving community, I agreed to chair the Citizens for Public Transportation, whose goal was to pass a 3/10 of 1% sales tax increase to replace funds lost due to the passage of I‐695. The sales tax increase failed by a small margin in 2001 but passed by a majority of the voters in the spring of 2002, restoring funding to BFT. Shortly thereafter (July 2002), I applied for and was hired as the Marketing & Customer Service Manager for Ben Franklin Transit. On April 30, 2017, I retired after 15 years. I have been interested in politics for many years but felt that working for a public entity, especially one whose board is comprised of elected of icials from local jurisdictions, running for office would be a con lict of interest. Earlier this year, knowing I would be retiring, I made the decision to run for Kennewick City Council because I felt it was time for a woman’s point of view. 

On what issues do you see yourself focusing your energy if elected? 
Some of my priorities are: a safe and livable community; gender and ethnic diversity; public/private partnerships; collaboration with other cities; urban growth boundaries to accommodate new schools; Vista Field and Columbia Drive development; CBC Culinary School; new or revitalized Senior Center; public and performing arts. 

What do you see as local government's role in promoting art and culture in a town? 
I believe that art of all kinds, not only demonstrates, but has the ability to mold and shape, the culture of a community. I am proud to say that I have been involved in many worthy projects in the Tri‐Cities. As President of Columbia Center Rotary in 2004 – 2005, the board and I had the privilege of designating $50,000 to serve as seed money to start the Boys & Girls Club Arts & Music Center in downtown Kennewick. As a member of Columbia Center Rotary, I have either served as project manager or been instrumental in the creation of the following: “Sacagawea” bronze sculpture at the foot of Columbia Center Boulevard, “Body” bronze sculpture on the Parkade in Richland, “Stories” bronze sculpture to honor our veterans on the WSU TC campus, the Columbia Center Rotary stage at the WSU campus and the Columbia Center Rotary Charity stage at the Reach. In addition, I served as the board chair of the Carousel of Dreams 2008 – 2010 and was a sponsor of Drew Boy Creative’s premier opening “The Red Show”. I mentioned in a statement above that I am an advocate for public/private partnerships and public and performing arts. I believe that a well‐funded and active Arts Commission, in partnership with service clubs, associations and businesses, can help communities make public and performing arts a priority. 

What are your thoughts on the banning of recreational marijuana sales within city limits? 
I believe the sale of recreational marijuana within city limits should be decided by a vote of the people. How do we solve the issue of increased home prices and rent making the area less affordable to those who would like to call the area home? The job of the city council is make decisions regarding zoning and land use. It is the developers that control what types communities they build. Grants, HUD money and other factors determine whether or not a property is mixed use, low income or strictly senior housing. I personally would advocate for more mixed use development where people of all ages, ethnicity and gender, can work, recreate, shop and live, and most especially feel that sense of neighborhood and community. 

With wind and ample sun, the Tri‐Cities is a prime location for alternative energy. Where do you hope to see our area take advantage of clean energy?
When I worked for Ben Franklin Transit, I had the opportunity to see first‐hand how efficient and earth friendly alternative energy could be. BFT had the first all‐electric, remanufactured bus in the nation. With Battelle and the numerous other environmentally friendly and cutting‐edge businesses in the area, the Tri‐Cities is well‐positioned to be a leader in alternative energy nationally and perhaps even world‐wide. We are fortunate to have organizations like our Port Districts and TRIDEC actively recruiting industries that focus on clean, sustainable and renewable energy. 

The Tri‐Cities seems to regularly end up in the national news for negative stories concerning discrimination and other issues. What would you like the area to be known for going forward?
I would like this area to be known for its diversity of people, forward‐thinking ideas, tolerance, and state of mind. Kennewick recently appointed a diversity commission, and if elected I will advocate for the inclusion of all people regardless of age, income, ethnicity, gender identity or sexual orientation. Much of the negative news is Hanford related. The designation of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation as a National Park will hopefully ease some fears about this area. 

Where do see the Tri‐Cities in 5, 10, 25 years? 
Change takes time and I wish I had a crystal ball, but with hard work and dedication by some local visionaries all things are possible: 5 years: The completion of Columbia Gardens, Urban Wine & Artisan Village currently being developed through a partnership between the Port of Kennewick and the City of Kennewick on Columbia Drive near the cable bridge. A CBC Culinary Arts school in Kennewick in the same vicinity. Pikes Place‐type Farmers Market along the waterfront (potentially in Pasco). An aquatic park capable of hosting regional competitive swim events. An expansion of Confluent Makers Space & Drew Boy Creative and more venues like these. A Regional Public Facilities District. Trader Joe’s at Southridge. 10 Years: Vista Field Redevelopment 50% completed with a Performing Arts Center capable of attracting Broadway caliber performances. Expansion of the Three Rivers campus. Mixed use development the norm not the exception. 25 Years: Hanford so clean it’s open to the public. 

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William (Dan) White (Richland, Position 1) 

How long have you been active or interested in politics? What made you decide to run for local office? 
I have considered running for city council on several occasions. I am now retired and have the time to commit to maintaining and improving the overall quality of life in West Richland. 

On what issues do you see yourself focusing your energy if elected? 
Planning for future growth in an economically sound manner. 

What do you see as local government's role in promoting art and culture in a town? 
Art and culture are necessary improvements needed to achieve a high quality of life and may help attract other businesses which are needed to improve the City's revenue. 

What are your thoughts on the banning of recreational marijuana sales within city limits? 
I believe marijuana sales are analogous to the prohibition of liquor in the 1920's and 1930's. Individuals seeking to use marijuana will obtain it either via legal or illegal means. Properly regulated sales I believe are in the public interest to prevent many of the problems associated with marijuana. 

How do we solve the issue of increased home prices and rent making the area less affordable to those who would like to call the area home? 
Planning can result in home availability in many price ranges. With wind and ample sun, the Tri‐Cities is a prime location for alternative energy. Where do you hope to see our area take advantage of clean energy? I support the development of many forms of energy. Diversity is needed to prevent over reliance on a single source, which leads to less competition and higher energy costs. 

The Tri‐Cities seems to regularly end up in the national news for negative stories concerning discrimination and other issues. What would you like the area to be known for going forward? 
I disagree with the premise that the Tri‐Cities is regularly in the news for negative stories concerning discrimination. I do support the concept of equality for everyone and will do my part to aid in the achievement of equality. 

Where do see the Tri‐Cities in 5, 10, 25 years? 
I believe the Tri‐Cities and especially West Richland will continue to grow rapidly. Planning for growth is essential.

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Ginger Wireman (Richland, Position 4)

How long have you been active or interested in politics? What made you decide to run for local office?
I've been active in local issues since the start of the Tapteal Greenway and Save the Reach campaign. In 24 years I've watched various iterations of council and staff make decisions in direct opposition to overflowing council chambers and citizen's desires. While my kids were in school I focused on school volunteer duties, but my nest will be empty in August. So I thought I'd run for Richland Council.

On what issues do you see yourself focusing your energy if elected?
I hope to engage a broader range of residents of all ages, from across the cultural and socioeconomic spectrum. I think Richland has a few people who don't feel welcome to engage... Or feel decision‐makers are not respectful or responsive when they do. I'd like to create stronger neighborhoods through that effort. I want to revitalize and renew our urban core and make it safer to walk and cycle anywhere in Richland. I want to find ways to use shared resources wisely, be more water aware, get people out of single‐occupancy vehicles, promote solar, etc.

What do you see as local government's role in promoting art and culture in a town?
First I think art should be woven into public space as much as possible. I love the large murals at Uptown. But I want to see if we can also get art added to the overpass near Steptoe, or the GWay/240 interchange. My understanding is the reason we don't have art (even though Wa has a 1 % for art rule in public financing) is that no one on Richland staff asked for it! Major foul IMHO. Every new interchange on the west side has cool fencing or stamped concrete. In addition to supporting and promoting visual art, I've been involved with performing arts through my kid's music activities. I'm deeply concerned about the lack of proper performance venues for larger productions in the Tri. While I love Nutcracker I can tell you it's had on RHS kids to be booted from their music rooms during the week of the ballet! I participated in the Vista Field visioning (Port of Kenn understands what public involvement is BTW) and the visionary concept they played with is so cool. I would like to unwind the current public facilities districts (there are five!) and create a true regional PFD that can support projects and infrastructure we'll all benefit from. I believe Adam Brault suggested a Grand Bargain?

What are your thoughts on the banning of recreational marijuana sales within city limits?
My initial reaction is that it's stupid to ban it. I wondered how much money the city is losing as a result. The state taxes collected don't come back to the cities. They go to the state for an array of health related service. Ironically, the state closed many medical marijuana dispensaries and "rolled them into" (forgive the pun) the recreational shops. For a person who's ill to have to go to Prosser or Finley - or grow their own - is unfair. There may be a perception that allowing it would hurt our relationship with the feds who pay many of the salaries in this town. But it's pretty likely that plenty of Hanford employees know how to pass drug tests. If the city did get some of the money, I think it would be worth considering it. People are grownups and should be able to choose. Richland has plenty of bars. Why prohibit something 'we the people' voted to allow?

How do we solve the issue of increased home prices and rent making the area less affordable to those who would like to call the area home?
The core part of Richland has quite a few properties where urban infill (building a smaller house on the back of a lot) would be feasible. Many of those spots could also host 'tiny houses'. The city would need to figure out water/sewer and electrical services to be fair to everyone, and ensure public health and safety. We need to be careful though. Portland has allowed a lot of infill with no consideration of parking and it’s becoming a nightmare. I’d really want to ensure walking and biking were a priority, lessening the need for every family to have multiple cars. There are other ways to house people as well that build community and create economies of scale. For example, co-housing where several smaller homes are built around a commons and there is a common space with a shared kitchen, play spaces, a laundry, etc. Homes would have kitchenettes, but the main kitchen would be shared. Residents could share the washer/dryer, lawnmower, shop tools - things most people only a few times a week or less. A group tried to create a co-housing community up off 10th in Kennewick in the early 2,000s. I think they were ahead of their times. But the idea might work now. These are pretty common in northern Europe, and there are several in Washington, for example Songaia in Bothell. Richland wouldn't build these, just make it so zoning and utility supports are flexible if needed.

With wind and ample sun, the Tri‐Cities is a prime location for alternative energy. Where do you hope to see our area take advantage of clean energy?
An announcement was made in early June that a French company, Neoen, is planning to build a 100 acre solar farm on 'unused' Hanford land. What a shame. That's 100 fewer acres for black tailed jackrabbit, and other shrub steppe species. I'm all for solar power. But habitat loss pisses me off. I prefer distributed power. The Federal Building parking lot is about six acres, the Kadlec Healthplex lot is about three. WSU TC has nearly ten acres of parking. The roof of the Preferred Freezer Services is more than seven acres! If all the parking lots in Richland had solar shade structures and all the big buildings had solar on the roof it would equal more than 100 acres and wouldn't destroy habitat. Richland is in a unique position since we own our own electric utility. If we installed the arrays we could sell our excess to others. Also, about 10% of our energy mix comes from coal. We should absolutely replace that with another clean form of energy. Wind is a little trickier because of vibrations, damage to birds, etc. Small wind intrigues me though, and I wonder if we could put windmills in places like Badger Park, Marina Park, and the ball fields out by Horn Rapids. Maybe around the Richland Landfill too. All that said, we do have a clean, safe nuclear plant. As an environmentalist I still believe we need to figure out a safe way to store spent fuel or re-process it. I'm interested in the concept of modular reactors for everyone who freaks at the thought, consider our Navy is heavily powered by reactors without incident. Not just subs, but aircraft carriers with thousands of troops aboard. Nuclear has proven safer than most other power sources, but the waste storage issue must be solved. The Tri‐Cities seems to regularly end up in the national news for negative stories concerning discrimination and other issues. What would you like the area to be known for going forward? I used to think Richland was sort of full of itself, what folks might have called 'high falutin' in the olden days. But then I learned more about just how secret our Manhattan and Cold War work was, and realized the exclusion and suspicion of others was a self‐preservation mechanism. But it's 2017. Records are declassified, no production activities are underway. Plutonium’s been moved out of state. It's time to open up and work on being deliberately inclusive. Richland has about 500 international residents (both permanent and temporary) who work at PNNL, for Areva, or in other nuclear related jobs. We also have immigrants from Mexico and Latin America and others who've been settled here with the help of World Relief. I think we can proactively bring people together through the creation of community events that celebrate all the cultures and make people feel safe and welcome. I also want to explore the creation of neighborhood associations that allow people to engage in their neighborhoods. Boise, Portland and a lot of other cities support neighborhood activities. Only a few parts of town have Homeowners Associations, and I’m not talking about regulating stuff like working on a car in the driveway, or not drying clothes on a line. But helping to facilitate a way to create neighborhood cohesion, neighbors‐helping‐neighbors and having fun, that would be cool.

How do feel Richland has handled the Duportail bridge project?
I’m stuck. I feel like it’s ‘my bad’ that I didn’t know about it. The city asserts that they have engaged in ‘significant’ public engagement. But I missed it, and judging by the anger of many citizens, most folks did. I’m usually engaged, so this says to me the City needs to try harder and find better ways to engage and inform the public. Pop up info booths at Howard Amon on a busy Saturday, or “Planning in the Park” during Live@5 are two ideas. The problem goes way back to before the $20 car tab. The city frequently puts the cart before the horse. Building the fire station and city shops on Queensgate without the full funding for the bridge in the first place was a poor idea. I feel horrible for the people who own property on Duportail now that it’s become an arterial. I will fight the thoroughfare to Badger Mountain south. The plan is to go over the top and connect to Rancho Reata. I know the people out there don’t want that to happen and I bet the neighborhoods off Gage and in Westcliffe won’t be too thrilled either.

Where do see the Tri‐Cities in 5, 10, 25 years?
 Whether people vote for me, or vote at all, everyone really needs to pay attention today to planning issues that will impact us down the road. The Duportail Bridge and Amon Basin/Rachel Road problems are happening now because ten, 20, 30 years ago, people skipped the meetings and leadership didn’t have a sustainable vision. In the near term we must find a way to get a true regional funding system set up to pay for things that benefit all Tri-Citizens. I doubt many people care exactly where a performing arts center or proper year round aquatic center or year round market end up, but I bet we’d all benefit from them. The Tri is small, we need to stop being so provincial! I’d like to improve transit opportunities to get people out of their cars and really focus on becoming more sustainable. I love Boise and Salt Lake for those reasons. This isn’t just an aesthetic issue but a public health issue. Sitting in traffic causes stress. Pavement (roads/parking lots) holds in excess heat and heat waves cause (or exacerbate other) illnesses. Heat also causes ozone when combined with vehicle emissions. Biking and walking make you healthier! Also, we should plant appropriate trees and encourage homeowners to plant more trees. They increase property values and decrease energy bills if planted in the right spot. In 10-20 years Hanford cleanup will be almost done, and the Vit plant will be making glass. Commercial vacancies will be non-existent. I see a clean, green, economy with creative businesses and manufacturing that replaces Hanford cleanup jobs. The businesses that FUSE, SPC have helped spawn are a great start. There’s no end to their potential. But a bright future will take visionary leaders to think outside the 1950’s mindset many still seem to embrace.

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Ed Pacheco (Kennewick, Position 4) 

How long have you been active or interested in politics? What made you decide to run for local office? 
It’s not so much an interest in politics it’s just that I have history of helping people. I think I first started when I was forced school bussed to a different school away from my other family members. It was quite the issue when the school district made me go to a different school. I mentioned to my parents that I did not fit in they suggested I get active in school functions to meet new people. I did. Since then I was class a President in high school, a Lt. at Seattle University, KPD Reserve Officer, Union President for Federally Commissioned Officers, Hanford Advisory Board, Member and Co-Chair of the recent Benton County Criminal Justice tax and now Chairman of the Kennewick Planning Commission. I have had success on the Hanford site resolving many issues. These issues took time and patience to resolve. I hope to bring those skills to the Kennewick City Council and help my community.

On what issues do you see yourself focusing your energy if elected? 
As a current Planning Commissioner I have been part of planning and zoning improvements throughout Kennewick. Kennewick needs to continue with infrastructure improvements. I support continued funding for US395/Ridgeline drive Intersection, new sewer lines/water main replacement in areas and the widening of Metaline Avenue. Completion of current projects will better serve our community and meet expected population growth. Population growth will allow Kennewick the opportunity to attract businesses to new urban growth areas.

What do you see as local government's role in promoting art and culture in a town? 
Kennewick should promote art and culture throughout the city. I don’t think there is voice right now on council who has the passion to get this done.  I think by promoting diversity in art and culture we become a better community.

What are your thoughts on the banning of recreational marijuana sales within city limits? 
Recreational Marijuana sales: I am on record as voting no on this issue. The primary reason was location. One of the requirements on the planning commission is for the good and welfare of the public. The locations proposed in Kennewick I thought made marijuana stores too exposed to juveniles. Take a look at what is happening in West Richland right now. I think Kennewick would see the same concern. Second it is still against federal law. I think we have responsibility to know if the Federal Government did decide to crack down on our residents. What would happen? Is our local Police department going to participate in arrest? Will they be held in Benton County or moved to a Federal location? Will local tax dollars be used to pay for detention? I need these answers before I can move forward.

How do we solve the issue of increased home prices and rent making the area less affordable to those who would like to call the area home?
Housing: I don’t think there is much you can do about the house market. I do think Kennewick should consider supplement housing vouchers for those who financially qualify. Kennewick should also consider contributing more to Habitat for Humanity. If possible look at older homes for remodeling for low income residents. Finally if we are going to displace neighborhoods for growth we should have housing opportunities for those residents who are forced to move out.

With wind and ample sun, the Tri‐Cities is a prime location for alternative energy. Where do you hope to see our area take advantage of clean energy?
I am a proponent of solar energy. I have personally invested in solar panels. I think Kennewick could promote solar power in their new buildings. I think it would be reasonable to offer solar power classes for residents and offer incentives for those who choose solar power. Lastly, if Kennewick could move forward on new Urban Growth Areas. Those areas could potentially be used for solar energy.

The Tri‐Cities seems to regularly end up in the national news for negative stories concerning discrimination and other issues. What would you like the area to be known for going forward?
I would like the area to be known for a city which helps our community. Council members can serve the community better by practicing the story of the Good Samaritan. In the story the questions were asked “what will happen to me if I try to help” verses “what will happen if I do not try help” (paraphrase MLK). If possible the council should try to help with all issues. To this end I intend to help our residents know the council is there to help.

Where do see the Tri‐Cities in 5, 10, 25 years? 
The Tri-Cities will grow in population. That is why I think now is the time for new infrastructure so that we are ready for the new wave of residents. I feel with millennials becoming the largest part of our population Kennewick will need to be more flexible with all issues. I have five millennials they think different than I do on many subjects. Kennewick Council members need to understand a new generation is here and they need to listen to those concerns. The Hanford site is in clean up mode. I can’t say for sure the exact date when it will all be cleaned up but Kennewick needs to look at economic diversity. I would like to see some flexibility in zoning. I think new people will bring new business ideas and opportunities and we will need to consider them.