4 file for candidacy in West Richland

By Loretto J. Hulse, Tri-City HeraldMay 13, 2013 

Two council incumbents, a former councilwoman and a political newcomer filed Monday for elected positions with the city of West Richland.

Former city councilwoman and mayor pro-tem Nancy Aldrich is running for mayor. She served on the council off and on for the past 20 years.

Jay Bowman, son of longtime Benton County Commissioner Leo Bowman, filed for city council Pos. 1, held by Brent Gerry, who filed to run for mayor of West Richland, making the city's mayoral race the only contested race in Benton County on Monday, the first day of the weeklong filing period.

Incumbent Councilman Rich Buel also has refiled for his council seat.

The general election is Nov. 5.

This is Bowman's first foray into politics. Though, because of his father's background, he said, "Politics has always been a part of our family."

Bowman and his wife, Linda, have lived in West Richland for almost 30 years.

In that time, Bowman said, he has seen a lot of changes, watched the city grow and paid attention to what's happening in the community.

"It's time now for me to step up and contribute," he said.

He said Mayor Donna Noski and the council have been doing a good job and have set goals he would like to see fulfilled. One is the Interstate 82 interchange project to give West Richland residents direct access to the highway and bring in more businesses and tourism dollars.

Growth is necessary, Bowman said, because it helps expand the tax base that keeps the city running and provides the city more money to better maintain police and fire departments.

Aldrich agrees that the I-82 interchange needs to happen but doubts that state funding will be available in four years, or even four more. She would like to see the city concentrate on filling up existing empty storefronts in town.

"Some of them have been vacant for years. Instead of economic development, I'd like to see economic diversification," she said.

Aldrich is also concerned about the health and safety of the city's citizens. For a city of West Richland's size, the police department is understaffed, she said.

She also wants to promote more of a sense of community among residents and believes a community center would help.

"For too many years," she said, "I drove my kids to Richland for swimming lessons, for baseball games. We need our own facility."

If elected, Aldrich intends to keep her full-time job as Richland's special projects coordinator. She and her husband, Steve, have called West Richland home for 27 years.

Before Noski took office, the mayor's position was part time. Previous mayors held other jobs that allowed them to be at city hall or attend city events when needed.

"We've done it in the past, and can do it again. The city has some very capable managers," she said. "I'm just minutes down the road and always available via text, cell phone and email."

Bowman helped run his family's business, Leo's Lineup and Tires, an automotive shop in Richland. After his father became county commissioner, Bowman was named president of the company and ran it until it was sold seven years ago. He went to work at Hanford but was a victim of the layoffs and is presently unemployed.

-- Loretto J. Hulse: 582-1513; lhulse@tricityherald.com

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