Richland council candidates point to their backgrounds

Tri-City HeraldOctober 27, 2013 

— A Department of Energy worker and a school administrator are vying to fill the Richland City Council seat that’s opening because the city’s mayor is retiring.

Gregory L. Jones and Melody Reed both say their backgrounds would make them an asset on the council.

They faced off in the August primary for council Pos. 7, beating out a third candidate for a chance in the November general election.

Reed had the edge in their summer matchup, drawing 41 percent of the vote to Jones’ 39 percent. Ballots are due Nov. 5. City council members make $1,090 a month.

Jones, 59, is a nuclear safety division team lead for DOE’s Richland Operations Office, with more than 35 years engineering experience.

He’s also vice chairman of the city’s Parks & Recreation Commission and said his familiarity with Richland government makes him well-positioned for the council.

Jones said his priorities include maintaining fiscal stability in the city without taking on more debt, working to strengthen Richland’s economic vitality and improving infrastructure.

He supports a new Duportail Bridge that would improve traffic and connectivity in the city, and “we have to be creative and look at all options and alternatives” when it comes to paying for it, he said.

He said efforts to revitalize the Parkway have been successful and he would like to see the Uptown get a facelift. His ideas include possibly adding a farmers market day at the Uptown and creating incentives for property owners there to make investments.

He said Richland must work to bring high-wage, non-Hanford jobs to the community, attracting young talent to work and raise families in Richland.

Jones said that he will “seek out and listen to residents about what they want for their city.” Reed, 60, said she grew up in a family that talked politics around the dinner table and placed an emphasis on community service.

Through her years in education, Reed — vice principal of Christ the King School in Richland — said she’s learned to be patient, think things through and collaborate.

Like Jones, she cited a new Duportail Bridge as an important project for the city. When it comes to the Uptown, she said she’s interested in hearing from the community about a vision for the area. She noted there would need to be buy-in from property owners.

Reed said ensuring continued financial stability for the city also is critical, and she said she would work to engage with residents.

Reed noted that her election would bring another woman to the council dais. Today, the seven-member council has just one female member — Sandra Kent, who is running to keep her seat against challenger Eldon E. Eskeli.

But Reed said she brings more than her gender. “I’m ready to do this,” she said. “I have the skills and talents to give to the council.”

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

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