Franklin commissioners solidifying election plans

By Geoff Folsom, Tri-City HeraldMay 16, 2014 

One Franklin County commissioner went from unopposed to having two challengers in the August primary, while another has abandoned plans to run for Congress.

Commissioner Rick Miller picked up two opponents Friday, the last day of the weeklong filing period for the Nov. 4 general election.

Commissioner Brad Peck did not add his name to the list of 12 candidates for the 4th District Congressional seat being vacated by retiring U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Pasco.

However, two more candidates did: Republican Gordon Allen Pross, an organic farmer who lives near Ellensburg, and Josh Ramirez of Pasco, a control specialist at Hanford.

Those who previously filed include: Democrats Estakio Betran and Tony Sandoval, both of Yakima, and Republicans Dan Newhouse of Sunnyside, Clint Didier of Eltopia, George Cicotte of Kennewick, Kevin Midbust of Richland, Glen R. Stockwell of Ritzville, Gavin Seim of Ephrata, state Sen. Janea Holmquist Newbry of Moses Lake and independent Richard Wright of Kennewick.

Holmquist Newbry is the only candidate holding elected office.

The top two vote-getters in the Aug. 5 primary will go on to face each other in November.

Peck, who initially filed with the Federal Election Commission to begin collecting campaign money, could not be reached Friday about his decision not to take the next step of filing for the office with the Secretary of State.

Peck, who also is chairman of the Franklin County Republican Party, reported to the election commission that he has $100,493 in cash in his campaign fund, with $75,000 from a loan to himself. The report filed April 15 showed Peck's campaign as having spent $383.

Candidates who drop out of a race have options including returning leftover funds to charities, political parties and other candidates, or returning it to donors, according to the election commission.

Miller will be challenged in his bid for a third term as District 3 commissioner in Franklin County by Melinda Didier, an administrative assistant in Kennewick's planning department, and Mark Kraft, a farmer and electrician with Battelle. All three are Republicans.

Didier, chairwoman of the Franklin County Planning Commission, said she hasn't run for elected office, but works closely with boards and committees in Kennewick. She doesn't have a problem with Miller, but thinks it is time for a change.

"I like Rick, I think he's done a great job," she said. "I'm of the opinion that when somebody has been in office for a long time, it is time for a fresh perspective and energy at the office."

Kraft, who would retire from his job at Battelle if elected, has long been interested in politics.

"You talk to your neighbors about politics at the coffee shop," he said. "You think you have good ideas and you express them, but it's frustrating to know that's as far as they go. So you run for office and hope your ideas go a little further."

Didier's husband is Curt Didier, brother of Clint Didier. She said she supports Clint Didier's run for Congress, but has mixed feelings about appearing on the ballot with her brother-in-law.

"It brings name recognition, but I don't want to take anything away from Clint," she said.

Kraft hopes people don't vote based on who is related to whom.

"It's kind of like a Clinton or a Bush," he said. "There's plenty of qualified people in the county. I don't know if family should be the only factor."

Miller is proud of the work he has been part of in his eight years representing western Franklin County.

"It takes some years to get the experience and really know what you are doing on the job," he said. "I make decisions based on principles, and the constituents in the county and what's best for the county."

In other races:

-- State Sen. Sharon Brown, R-Kennewick will be challenged by Richland Democrat Doug McKinley.

-- Tony Hillerman ensured that the Benton County Assessor's race will go to the primary. He will take on Mary Phillips of Prosser and Bill Spencer of Richland. All are Republicans.

Hillerman, who spent more than two decades in the assessor's office, told the Herald he moved to Kennewick this week so he could run for the office.

-- The race between incumbent Benton County Commissioner Shon Small, fellow Republican Tim Dalton and Democrat Brad Taylor is the only other race that will go to a primary.

-- Benton PUD commission President Jeff Hall also picked up an opponent on the last day of filing, when Pat Tucker of Paterson filed.

All other candidates will wait until the general election or are unopposed.

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