KID elections to be from 1 to 8 p.m. Tuesday

By Kristi Pihl, Tri-City HeraldDecember 10, 2012 

Kennewick Irrigation District customers have the opportunity Tuesday to choose two of the KID board's five members.

Incumbent Patrick McGuire and opponent Jim Wade are running for the next three-year term of position 2.

Dean Dennis, who recently was appointed to position 4, is opposed by Penny Hermanson and Dale Walter for the remaining year of the term.

The election will be from 1 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at KID's office, 12 W. Kennewick Ave.

By law, property owners on parcels of 5 acres or fewer get two votes, while those with more than 5 acres get two votes for each five acres of land. Joint property owners each get half of the votes.

Board members are paid $90 per day for official meetings or days spent on official duties.

Results will be available after KID's Dec. 17 meeting.

Position 2

Wade, a Kennewick homeowner, said voters should chose him if they want to see representation for small property owners, while McGuire said he already represents all property owners in KID boundaries, including homeowners and farmers.

McGuire, who was elected in 2008, said he got on the board thinking bad management and money were the major issues. Those have been solved, he said, and now KID needs to continue to fight to maintain its water rights.

That's part of why the Red Mountain project, where another 1,780 acres will be irrigated, is important, said McGuire, 56. The water needs to be put to use, and it will be better for the environment to have the water stay in the river longer instead of entering KID's main canal.

McGuire, who owns 45 acres and farms grass feed, said he also wants to continue working on rebuilding KID's infrastructure, which is about 50 years old. KID is working on flow controls, monitoring systems and lining canals for safety and to prevent water loss, he said.

It's important to make sure water is available in the future in a safe and efficient manner, McGuire said.

"I understand the big picture and where the district is and where the district is going," said McGuire, who served in the military for 20 years.

Wade, who previously has run for the KID board, said he thinks homeowners pay a disproportionate portion of the assessments and the rates need to be adjusted. He also is concerned with KID's spending and history of lawsuits.

If elected, Wade, 72, a retired business owner, said he would focus on fixing the budget and seeing changes to the state laws that govern voting for KID board members.

Wade, a former volunteer judicial chairman for Washington State Youth Soccer, said he would like to see the information for getting an absentee ballot mailed out with October bills.

"Get out and vote," Wade said. "Don't let things happen the way they have been happening in the past."

Position 4

Dennis and Hermanson said they want to be sure homeowners and farmers are well represented on the KID board.

Dennis, who started on the board Oct. 2, said he's running because he wants to give back to the community. He said he knows KID's ups and downs after being a customer for 32 years.

Hermanson, who has been attending KID board meetings since 2008, said she has seen the board change for the better and wants to be part of it.

KID's current direction is the best it's been in 50 years, Dennis said. The staff is educated and well-trained, and they care about their customers, the budget and abiding by state law, Dennis said.

It's important to have some new blood on the board to build up knowledge for when the current, knowledgeable board members retire, said Dennis, a retired manager of fire systems maintenance at Hanford.

Dennis, 69, is a Vietnam veteran who served three tours. He retired after 21 years in the Navy as a chief petty officer.

He volunteers with Operation Thank You, which thanks veterans coming home from tours, and is president of the Pheasant Run Homeowners Association.

Dennis said if elected, his goal is to be the go-to person for all of KID's customers. He'd like to see more of the public attend KID meetings.

"I'm outgoing, easy to talk to," Dennis said. "I listen, and I feel like I care. I definitely care about the people within the region."

KID has made leaps and bounds since 2008, Hermanson said. It is reaching out to the public more and improving the canal system.

But she said she would like to see more of a focus on drought preparation. Water is available now, but that could change in the future.

Farmers already are pretty good at water conservation because it's their livelihood, Hermanson said. It's something that should be looked at by homeowners too.

Among the challenges facing KID is making sure the needs and concerns of Eastern Washington are taken into consideration when water laws are amended on the state and federal levels, she said. KID also needs to be more involved with the Bureau of Reclamation.

Hermanson was on the board of directors for Benton County Junior Fair & Rodeo. She owns 45 acres and farms grass feed, as well as working part time at Macy's. She said she is old enough to have grandkids.

Hermanson and McGuire are married, but she said she said having a married couple on the board is no different than having two best friends. They have different opinions like any couple, she said.

State law gives spouses each half of the votes for the property they own, giving a voice to both property owners, she said.

The Herald was unable to reach Walters, who was appointed to the KID board in 2008 but was not re-elected later that year for a four-year term.

-- Kristi Pihl: 582-1512; kpihl@tricityherald.com

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