Our Voice: Every group needs to be heard on hiring next Pasco city manager

June 12, 2014 

Finding a replacement for retiring city manager Gary Crutchfield should be of interest to all Pasco residents, regardless of ethnicity.

The public reception Wednesday night was the opportunity for all interested parties to meet and quiz those seeking to be the city's future manager.

That a particular group might want special access to these candidates is understandable, especially when that group represents a significant portion of the community.

After all, Crutchfield's retirement marks a change in leadership after 30 years. It is a big deal.

In this case, some of Pasco's Hispanic leaders felt excluded because they were denied a separate meeting with the candidates.

We also can understand the city's position.

The four candidates under consideration were in town this week to check it out, and vice versa. The two-day schedule set time limits on the number of possible meetings. There are only so many hours in the day.

In addition to the public reception, the city scheduled a second meeting between the candidates and representatives from stakeholder groups such as the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Pasco Development Authority.

No doubt there are other groups that would like to put a bug in the ear of whoever the new manager will be.

One particular issue that farm labor advocate Felix Vargas wanted to put to the candidates was the future of the Lewis Street overpass. The crucial link between east and west Pasco is steeped in Mid-Columbia history. The much-needed upgrade will change the face of downtown Pasco.

We doubt very much that an outsider, any outsider, would have the breadth and depth of knowledge to make an informed response to that question.

Some of that lobbying just has to wait until after the manager is on the job. This is not the time to give someone his marching orders; rather, this is the time to see what each candidate can offer the city.

Mayor Matt Watkins re- sponded to Vargas' concerns by adding Ricardo Espinoza of Pasco, a member of the state Commission on Hispanic Affairs, to the stakeholders group meeting with the candidates.

It's not what Vargas requested, but it's a good compromise.

Watkins said the public reception was designed to give everyone who wanted to get to know the candidates a chance to do so.

We agree.

We elect city officials to do a job. When they fail to do that job, we replace them. One of the council's jobs is to hire the city manager.

About 60 citizens and stakeholders in Pasco attended Wednesday's reception and met the candidates. A bigger turnout would have been encouraging, but we suspect that some of those people who showed up already have contacted their city council representative with recommendations or concerns about the candidates.

It's a process the whole community has a vested interest in, regardless of ancestry. The city is doing a good job of including the public in this important decision.

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