Kennewick council candidates agree on prioritizing spending to essential services first

By Kristi Pihl, Tri-City HeraldOctober 21, 2013 

A former Tri-City Herald reporter and a Kennewick Improvement Board member are competing in the Nov. 5 general election for a Kennewick City Council seat.

John Trumbo, who covered Kennewick during eight of his 13 years at the Herald, and Roy "Bubba" Plunkett, a field work supervisor at the Hanford tank farms, are vying for the Position 3 seat, representing Ward 3, the eastern part of Kennewick.

The current incumbent, John Hubbard, is running for the at-large council seat against incumbent Bob Parks because he is moving out of Ward 3.

Trumbo, 66, said his 38 years of journalism experience sticking his nose into city hall will help him to focus on government accountability and efficiencies. As a former reporter, he said he has an aptitude for considering issues from the public's perspective, as well as a firm grip on how government works.

"I will be diligent," he said. "I'll be a watchdog, and if necessary, I'll stand alone."

Plunkett, 47, said he wants a chance to serve Kennewick residents. He has run for Kennewick council several times during the past decade.

He currently serves on the Pheasant Run Homeowners Association Board and the Kennewick Improvement Board, which hears code enforcement issues. Plunkett also has volunteered with Boy Scouts. He describes himself as an approachable, service-orientated person.

Both candidates agree on the need to prioritize city spending to essential services first, including police, fire, sewer and water.

The city needs to have enough police to address the local gang problem and enough firefighters and paramedics to serve the growing population, Plunkett said.

"We have got to pare down on some of the 'Gee, wouldn't it be nice' projects," Trumbo said. He cited a previous council's decision to spend $830,000 on a historic carousel.

Both also agree on the importance of Kennewick's efforts to include land south of Interstate 82 and west of Highway 395 in the city's urban growth area.

Hanford jobs will go away, although government does not move quickly, Plunkett said. Manufacturing and industrial businesses need to be brought to the area, he said.

The need for more industrial land is apparent, Trumbo said. But he is unsure how much of a financial commitment it would take to put in the infrastructure to attract businesses to the proposed expanded urban growth area. It's something the city needs to consider, he said.

Southridge, while a natural and appropriate development for the city, has commanded so much attention that other areas of Kennewick have been neglected, Trumbo said. Southridge is the area near Southridge High School off Highway 395.

For example, he would like to see a strategy formed for downtown Kennewick. City representatives need to be actively engaging business owners to find out what problems need to be solved so the area can thrive.

Plunkett, who has lived in Kennewick for 33 years, would like to see the work of the Historic Downtown Kennewick Partnership continue with revitalizing Kennewick's downtown. The city made a good move when it got rid of downtown's formerly crooked streets, he said.

He also would like to see Columbia Park revamped so it is more friendly to bicyclists and pedestrians.

And while Kennewick has made it fairly easy for businesses to open, state requirements can be a pain, said Plunkett, who operated a small family mowing business for 13 years. That's something the council may need to address with state legislators.

Kennewick council members are paid about $12,000 a year.

-- For more election stories, go to tricityherald.com/election.

-- Kristi Pihl: 582-1512; kpihl@tricityherald.com

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