Richland mayor pro tem faces political newcomer

Tri-City HeraldOctober 23, 2013 

— Richland’s mayor pro tem is facing off against a political newcomer in the race for Position 4 on the city council.

David Rose, 63, a business owner, was appointed to the council in December 2004 and has been mayor pro tem for two years. He highlighted his business acumen in particular as an asset, saying, “with my background, I look at issues with a business sense.”

Challenger Eric Kalia, 36, is making his first bid for council. He said he’s running in part because he felt the city put dealing with medical marijuana on the back burner and he doesn’t want the same thing to happen now that recreational pot is legal in the state.

Ballots are due by Nov. 5.

Council members make $1,090 a month.

Rose is a Tri-City native who owns and operates Northwest Rental and D&D Rents in Richland, as well as West Richland Rentals. He’s been involved with community groups including the Richland Chamber of Commerce and Richland Jaycees and served as a Richland reserve police officer. He’s vice chairman of the Benton-Franklin Council of Governments board.

If re-elected, Rose said he will throw his hat in the ring for the mayor position. In Richland, the city council selects a mayor from within its ranks every two years.

Rose said there’s a learning curve on the council, and “it takes a while to get a full understanding of how the city works.” His nine years on the council mean he’s deeply familiar with the city and its issues and is well-positioned to help lead the city in the coming years, he said. He also pointed to his relationship with area city officials, saying he can play a key role in regional discussions and issues.

Rose listed a new Duportail bridge and the growth in south Richland as among several top issues in the city.

He said he considers both sides of issues, and “I think the voters feel comfortable that I’ll do a fair job.”

Kalia also was born in the Tri-Cities. He moved away as a child but has been back for years. He’s a student at Columbia Basin College and plans to go into radiology.

For Kalia, drug policy is an important issue and he said he’s supportive of making nonviolent drug offenses the lowest priority for law enforcement.

Kalia is a medical marijuana patient and helped gather signatures for Initiative 502, which legalized possession of limited amounts of pot for adults 21 and older in the state and set the stage for a production, processing and retail sales system.

Kalia said local marijuana retail shops would cut down on crime by eliminating black market sales and bring tax revenue to city coffers. He said he supports the recently enacted moratorium in Richland on recreational marijuana-related businesses, designed to give officials time to develop a zoning plan. But he said he doesn’t want to see it go on too long.

He said he would work to engage with residents and to maintain the beauty of Richland. He also said he wants to see a greater variety of businesses in the city.

Kalia acknowledged he would face a learning curve if elected but said that’s something all new council members experience. He said it’s time for a new face on the council.

-- Sara Schilling: 582-1529; sschilling@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @saraTCHerald

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