The Pasco City Council plans a special meeting Oct. 19 to interview five finalists for its vacant council seat.
A screening committee of council members narrowed the pool of 11 applicants to seven, but two have dropped out of the running.
That leaves Chi Flores, Roberto Garcia, Kara Kaelber, Zahra Roach and Simon Serrano for final consideration by the full council.
Reed Child and Andrea Tullos withdrew their applications late last week.
The council is looking to fill the position held by Councilman Mike Garrison, who died July 27 after a recent diagnosis of leukemia. Garrison, 72, served on the Pasco City Council for 28 1/2 years.
Though Garrison lived in District 2 in central Pasco, City Attorney Leland Kerr advised council members that the vacancy is in District 4 because of shifts after district boundaries were redrawn in early 2015.
District 4 covers a large portion of northwest Pasco.
The 6 p.m. meeting is open to the public and will be in the council chambers at 525 N. Third Ave.
The council plans another special meeting Oct. 24 before its workshop meeting to vote on and appoint the top candidate.
The new council member will be given the oath of office that week, and take the seat at the Nov. 7 regular meeting. The person must run for election in 2017.
▪ Chi Flores said in his statement of interest that since moving to Pasco three years ago, he has “fallen in love with the diversity of cultures, strong growth in business relationships and the beauty in both the people and the area.”
He is an assistant manager for the Lowe’s store in Kennewick, and says his experience setting and monitoring budgets, resolving conflicts and promoting a positive team atmosphere could serve him well in representing the city and its residents.
▪ Roberto Garcia said he is an excellent candidate based on his background — which includes two military deployments to Iraq — and his passion to be part of the solution so his community can thrive.
He is a senior industrial engineer with Lamb Weston in Hermiston and current member of the Pasco Parks & Recreation Advisory Board.
“I’m passionate about seeing Pasco be more of a catalyst for change in the Tri-Cities, to lead the way in supporting community ownership activities, (and) to build solid relationships between the community and our law enforcement officers,” wrote Garcia, an eight-year resident.
▪ Kara Kaelber said in her 13 years living in Pasco, she’s gained an appreciation for the city’s unique character and diversity, while also recognizing the challenges that come with continuous growth.
She is the education director with Franklin Conservation District and an adjunct professor at Heritage University.
“What excites me the most about this position is being able to serve and give back to a community I feel has given me so much,” she wrote.
▪ Zahra Roach has called Pasco home since 1988, aside from stints in college in Cheney and Boston. She has been on the Pasco Planning Commission since April 2011, but her main job is as “chief operations officer of my household,” she said on her application.
After learning her neighborhood was inside the vacant district, she thought “what better way to put my knowledge and experience that I have gained to better serve the community that I live in. I believe that civil service is the noblest way to participate in our democracy.”
▪ Simon Serrano acknowledges that he is a relative newcomer since he’s only lived in Pasco for 15 months. But as an attorney/advisor for the Department of Energy, he has professionally represented and advised government agencies and wants to use that skill set to serve his community.
“I understand that my duty is to the city, especially the residents within District 4, and not to myself, industry or any other group,” Serrano wrote. “My approach will be one of fairness and equity to all who come before us.”