Kahlotus City Council race is a family affair

Tri-City HeraldJune 8, 2013 

Living in a home on the same property as your mother-in-law can be stressful enough. But imagine living there while running against her for city council.

That's the case for Molly Robitaille of Kahlotus -- one of three women running for at-large Position 2 on the council in the rural northeastern Franklin County city.

Also in the race are Sharee Beckner, recently appointed to the council to fill a vacancy, and Marcia Robitaille, mother of Molly's husband, Michael.

And if that's not enough family political participation, Michael is running for the at-large Position 3 council seat against incumbent Scott Williams.

"Trying to get one of us to help the town, at least, will be good," said Molly Robitaille, 35. "I really don't want to see the town wither away. I want to see more people come into the community."

Kahlotus, which has seen its population drop from 214 in 2010 to an estimated 195 now, hasn't had three candidates run for the same city council position since 1977, said Diana Killian, Franklin County election administrator.

But Marcia Robitaille, 63, said she doesn't expect the race to get dirty.

"Mine will be an honest running," she said. "I don't believe in backstabbing and that kind of stuff, so let the best person win."

Beckner, 32, said she would bring a younger perspective to the council. The city already is making much-needed sidewalk improvements, but there is more to do.

"The sewer system really needs to be put in," she said. "Without a sewer system, our town could not develop more."

The council picked Beckner over Marcia and Molly Robitaille when they all applied to fill the vacancy created after another council member's resignation.

She hopes the voters will do the same.

This isn't Molly Robitaille's first time running for the council. In 2011, after tying write-in candidate Bob Hagans with 21 votes, Molly, the only person to file for the position, lost a coin toss.

Hagans got to call the flip because his name came first alphabetically.

"He chose what I would have chosen, which was heads," she said.

Marcia Robitaille said she doesn't believe there's any single issue this year that compelled six people to run for three council seats, including Mayor Patti Hamilton, who is running unopposed for re-election.

"We live here, we see some things that need to improve and we feel we can help improve them," Marcia said.

Michael Robitaille said things are pretty "nice and easy" around the house right now, but he expects things to get more stressful as the election approaches. He hasn't yet decided whether he will vote for his wife or his mother.

"Right now, I'm running through my head -- my mom's community service experience and her work experience and my wife's community service and work experience, and the pros and cons of each," he said.

The Position 2 city council seat in Kahlotus is one of just two races in Franklin County that will appear on Aug. 6 primary ballots, along with the Pasco School District board race with Sherry Lancon, Javier Ruiz and Taylor Franklin Taranto. The top two finishers in those races move on to the Nov. 5 general election ballot.

Two other races were scheduled for primaries, but candidates withdrew.

The Pasco City Council election between Mike Garrison and Aaron Beasley lost its third candidate when Rhonda Schafer dropped out on May 20, while Terry Bloor withdrew from the Court of Appeals Division 3, District 2 judgeship election that same day, leaving George Fearing and John Gary Metro in the race.

Geoff Folsom: 509-582-1543; gfolsom@tricityherald.com; Twitter:@GeoffFolsom

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