2 challenging seat on Prosser City Council

Loretto J. Hulse, Tri-City HeraldJuly 19, 2013 

PROSSER -- Ernie Troemel, 72, who's served on the Prosser City Council for six years, faces two challengers in the Aug. 6 primary.

His opponents are Don Aubrey, 66, who served on the council for two years in the 1990s, and Trevor Day, 30. The top two finishers will face each other in the general election in November.

The position pays $40 per meeting. At an average of 36 per year, that totals $1,440.

Day, who's lived in Prosser for 20 years, has never been elected to office but does have a bachelor's degree in government from Eastern Washington University. He is production manager for St. Michelle Wine Estates in Paterson.

Aubrey, a Prosser native, was appointed to fill a vacant seat on the council from 1995-97 but had to step down when his work schedule at Milne Fruit conflicted with meetings. He's retired now and would like to serve his community once again.

Troemel, who was elected to the council in 2005, is a Yakima Valley native who's lived in Prosser since 1960. He taught elementary school in Prosser for years before retiring, attending business college and becoming a tax accountant. He's also retired from tax work.

Troemel describes his role on the council as a "fiscal watchdog." He voted to approve the contract with the regional 911 service, to hire a full-time mayor and to build the new water storage reservoir north of town.

"I need to watch what's going on, to always be on guard ... and if something does not look right, to ask questions. That's my job," he said.

Some of the major issues facing the council are related to growth, Troemel said.

"Some oppose any type of growth, but it's going to happen, and we need to control it," he said. "I can see it's going to be a hot issue as we go along. I can see progress coming in many forms."

Troemel also voted to approve a low-income housing project being built by Catholic Charities on North River Road.

"It's being opposed by some, mainly people nearby who do not want low-income people living there. But they have to live somewhere," he said.

Aubrey said his goal, if elected, is "to try and help the people in town, to be their voice."

He has no major complaints about how the city is run, but decided to toss his hat into the ring because he doesn't agree with some of the council's votes, he said.

"One example is when they took the dispatch away and laid off five people. I didn't agree with that, but it's history," Aubrey said.

Aubrey also wants to change the way lunch breaks are handled at city hall.

"The building is closed from 11 a.m. to noon, you can't even get in the door and no one answers the phones," Aubrey said. "There's plenty of people working there that they could stagger their lunches and keep city hall open at lunch."

Day has the experience and training to manage a large group of people, to see projects through to completion on time and on budget, and to increase efficiency, he said.

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

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