Election letter: West Richland mayor -- Merle Johnson

July 31, 2013 

Mark Hanneman (Letters, July 24) was correct in stating Merle Johnson, West Richland candidate for mayor, voted against hiring a consultant for $54,000 to prepare a park plan update and needs analysis.

Population centers and housing developments dictate where parks are needed, and the comprehensive plan sets forth park goals and policies. The park board has an inventory of parks, park equipment, residents' recreational requests and its own wish list. Merle would have supported funding for plans that would ensure Bombing Range, Coyote and Flat Top parks meet future needs.

And yes, Merle also voted against paying $5,000 for a Little League scoreboard because a local soft drink company offered to provide one under an agreement with Little League. Nearly $60,000 for these two items would have been better spent purchasing new parkland or improving existing parks.

Before Mark Hanneman was voted out of office, he and fellow councilmembers spent down our reserve. The Van Giesen Street reader board hasn't worked for months. Is there no money to repair it or buy a new one?

As mayor, Merle Johnson will work hard to balance our budget while preserving our quality of life.

EILEEN NORRIS, West Richland

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