Pasco councilman to face election challenge

By Geoff Folsom, Tri-City HeraldMay 16, 2013 

A firefighter, former Pasco school board member and controversial developer is challenging a longtime Pasco councilman.

Aaron Beasley, 52, became the first person this year to file for a seat on the Pasco City Council, challenging longtime incumbent Mike Garrison in the District 2 race in the Nov. 5 general election.

Garrison, who has held the post for 26 years, represents most of the neighborhoods around Highway 395, south of Interstate 182.

If he wins the four-year term, Beasley, a Pasco firefighter for 30 years, said he would like the city to work with private businesses on projects involving city land.

"I think we need to look at how we can partner up with companies, rather than doing it through taxes," Beasley said.

Beasley cited as an example of a public-private partnership the plan he started to work on with Kennewick and Richland to develop a portion of the west end of Columbia Park as a destination resort with recreational amenities.

The project fizzled and he sued the cities last year after they backed out of an "exclusive option for the development of a multipurpose community center project."

"They took my project and tried to do it themselves," he claimed. He said the case has yet to be resolved.

Beasley's record also includes a reprimand in 1994 in which Beasley was given a day of unpaid leave for leaving his station without approval from his shift officers. Beasley said he left the station to take an ambulance he was in charge of to the scene of an apartment complex fire, and he waited until he was sure another firefighter was at the station.

The incident happened while Beasley was on the school board. He was first elected in 1993 but lost his re-election bid in 1997 to current school board member Bill Leggett.

Garrison, 69, said Thursday that he doesn't know enough about Beasley to challenge his record. But he does look to emphasize his own six years as mayor during a time when the city has been growing.

"We've kept taxes down, and we've actually lowered taxes," Garrison said. "We've been able to improve our facilities without having to go back and add another tax."

Beasley takes issue with a recent decision to close two city-owned swimming pools, including Richardson Park in his district. He said he fears there will be a long wait between a vote this summer to pay for a new regional aquatics center and the facility opening, if voters approve it at all.

"A lot of these places are where kids learn to swim," he said. "We shouldn't have to hope to pass a $38 million bond and build something four years out, and the kids have nothing to do."

Garrison, who has spent 35 years in the welding supply and gas businesses, said he can't discount an opponent, but feels fairly confident about being reelected.

"We've had a really good relationship between council and staff, and I'd like to see that continue," he said.

Candidates have until 5 p.m. today to file in Benton and Franklin counties.

If three or more people file for one position, a primary election will take place Aug. 6, with the top two vote-getters advancing to the November general election.

Here are highlights from the fourth day of candidate filing:

Kennewick

Erik Malson filed Thursday to run against incumbent Rick Reil for his seat on the Kennewick Public Hospital District.

Richland

Two more people filed to run for Richland City Council on Thursday. Stan Bensussen will run against Greg Jones for the seat being vacated by retiring Mayor John Fox. Eldon Eskeli filed to challenge incumbent Councilwoman Sandra Kent.

Two people filed to run against incumbent Richland School Board member Heather Cleary. Challengers Jimmie D. Chastain II and Lloyd Becker each threw their hat into the ring Thursday.

West Richland

Merle N. Johnson entered the race to run for mayor against Nancy Aldrich and Brent Gerry, while Councilman Richard Bloom filed to run for another four-year term.

Fire districts

Incumbent Franklin Fire District 3 Commissioner Ronald Shuck filed Thursday to run again for his seat.

He is being challenged by Lisa Douglas.

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