Benton County commissioner vies to keep his District 2 seat

By Sara Schilling, Tri-City HeraldApril 20, 2014 

Benton County Commissioner Shon Small plans to run in this year's election to keep his District 2 seat.

He'll have at least one challenger -- a man he faced off against in 2010. Tim Dalton, executive director of the Historic Downtown Kennewick Partnership, said he plans to enter the race.

Election filing week is in mid-May but both men have filed paperwork with the state Public Disclosure Commission to start raising campaign funds.

Both are Republicans.

-- Small, 46, of Prosser, spent 20 years in law enforcement with the Benton County Sheriff's Office before unseating longtime Commissioner Max Benitz Jr. in the November 2010 election. Dalton also made a bid for the seat but was edged out in the primary.

In the past four years, Small said he and his fellow commissioners have made public safety a priority, pointing to the formation of the county's first gang task force as an example.

They've also pushed for technology upgrades and other infrastructure improvements to gain efficiency and save taxpayers money, Small said.

"We have done a lot internally and externally," from reorganizing and rebranding the information technology department and updating county wifi and phone systems, to improving some farm-to-market roads and working for "expedited cleanup at Hanford to the highest standards," Small said.

"We have worked with our business community and farmers to make sure that Benton County is a place they want to invest in," and also worked with cities and ports "to develop a diverse portfolio to attract new business" and collaborated with groups such as the Tri-City Development Council and the Tri-Cities Visitor and Convention Bureau to ensure an attractive business climate, he said.

The county has more projects in store this year, including renovations at the courthouse in Prosser and a possible new public works shop in Kennewick. "Everything is aimed at modernizing our functions and making our service to the citizens more efficient," he said.

He said many gains and improvements have been made in the county, but there's more to do and he looks forward to the work that's ahead.

Small and his wife, Lisa, have a son and a daughter, both in their 20s. Small's election website site is at

-- Dalton, 54, of Kennewick, has been executive director of the Historic Downtown Kennewick Partnership since 2002.

During his tenure, the partnership has completed 33 facade improvement projects, invested $150,000 in public art and built new public restrooms downtown, among other accomplishments, Dalton said.

"What I've been able to do for historic downtown Kennewick, I think I can bring that to the county," he said.

Dalton said he doesn't have anything against Small but is running for the District 2 seat to enhance economic development in the county.

"We need to bring in more business, which generates a bigger tax base for the county. That will in turn enable us to do more within the county," he said.

He said infrastructure improvements such as interstate access to Red Mountain are needed. The county also should look at ways to diversify the Highway 397 corridor and collaborate with other officials in the region on long-term water storage solutions to help agriculture, he said.

He said he wants to evaluate county government to see where it can be more efficient and is open to looking at a change in the form of government.

Dalton, who spent four years in the Marine Corps, said his background in business would be an asset on the commission.

Before joining the downtown Kennewick group, he was production coordinator of Columbia Crest in Paterson, owned by Ste. Michelle Wine Estates.

He also worked for the Pasco Downtown Development Association and served as general manager of the Pasco Farmers Market.

Dalton and his wife, Kimberlee, have a son and a daughter, both in their 20s. He doesn't have a campaign website at this point.

-- Sara Schilling: 582-1529;; Twitter: @saraTCHerald

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