Richland City Council

October 14, 2011 

There are four seats up for grabs on the Richland City Council this year. Yesterday we recommended Sandra Kent and Ed Revell. Today we consider the other two races.

Christensen v. McBurney

Terry Christensen is a man who wants to serve his community. He's already the chairman of the Richland Parks and Recreation Commission and has served on that board for 10 years.

With his recent retirement from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, he now wants to spend his time and energy on the Richland City Council.

Christensen, 67, is not a career politician. His political ambitions top out at the city council level. His proven commitment to the community and his willingness to serve are readily apparent.

Christensen has been involved with the Richland Tourism Committee, has served as an officer with the Tri-City Girls Fastpitch Softball Association for 20 years and been a representative of the Tri-Cities Visitor & Convention Bureau's sports council. Other involvements include the Richland Rod and Gun Club and the Richland High School Bomber Boosters.

Maintaining and enhancing Richland's quality of life is Christensen's priority. Revitalizing the city's core and the Uptown Shopping Center, as well as developing a medical district along Swift Boulevard, would be components of that plan.

His opponent is Patrick McBurney Jr., an attorney and chairman of the Benton County GOP. McBurney, 45, said his desire to serve and his interest in government prompted him to join the race for city council Position 6. He has been a resident of Richland for decades and loves the city.

McBurney would make economic development his top priority if elected. A diversified business community in a post-Hanford economy would be his focus, bringing in new jobs to replace those that are ending at Hanford. He would also like to see the downtown core and the Uptown refreshed and renewed.

Both men are earnest in their desire to serve Richland. And both bring strong skills to the table. Christensen's professional background is in finance and business management, as well as his experience on the parks commission. McBurney brings and understanding of public policy, among other qualities. Both men would enhance the council.

We believe Christensen is in the best position to serve the council. He has the time and the passion for the job. His decade on the parks commission, which has familiarized him with the workings of the city. And we are sure we haven't seen the last of McBurney. We expect he will serve the community in elected office in years to come regardless of the outcome in this election.

Lemley v. Joyce

Position 5 on the Richland City Council is the tale of two Phillips -- two vastly different candidates.

Phillip Joyce, 26, is taking his second run at public office. He is an earnest and sincere candidate, but compared with his opponent, Joyce is ill-prepared for public office.

Phillip Lemley, 70, was elected to the council two years ago. In that time, one of the things he is most proud of is his attendance record. He has not missed a single council meeting or workshop.

Even before he joined the council, Lemley had an active civic life. In his 10 years in our community, he has served on more boards and committees than most people do in a lifetime.

His community involvement includes serving on the executive board of Blue Mountain Council of the Boy Scouts of America, Richland Police Department Volunteers in Police Service program, Richland Parks and Recreation Commission and the Richland Housing and Community Development Board.

Since he's been on the council, Lemley has made a full-time job out of the office. He serves as a liaison to 15 different committees. If the city were to lose him, it would take more than one person to serve as his replacement.

Lemley is planning for the long run. For example, he wants the Hanford Reach Interpretive Center to succeed, but questions if it will be able to sustain itself and who will be left holding the bag if it doesn't.

It may seem like he's a little bit of a black cloud over the parade, but these are good questions -- ones that ought to be answered from the outset.

Phillip Joyce, joined the race because he wants to give back to the community and because at the time he filed there was only one candidate. He wanted voters to have a choice.

Those are admirable reasons to run. They are not, however, good reasons to elect a candidate.

Yes, it takes desire to serve, but it also takes leadership experience to be an effective council member. The city council is not a "beginner" position.

We would like to see Joyce volunteer on a committee or board within the community and pick up some experience. There are lots of opportunities to give back to the community -- some of which go unfulfilled for lack of a willing volunteer.

The Herald editorial board recommends voters elect Terry Christensen and Phillip Lemley to the Richland City Council.

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