The “Larsen” name will again be on this year’s ballot for Pasco City Council, but now it is a longtime councilman’s wife who will be running for a seat.
Joan Larsen is looking to replace her husband, Tom, who will end the year having served 16 years on the Pasco council.
“Tom is not running,” Joan Larsen told the Herald on Thursday.
When asked why, she said, “It’s just that we decided it was my turn to run.”
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Joan Larsen will be running in District 5 against incumbent and Mayor Pro Tem Rebecca Francik. The district covers a large section of west Pasco, west of Highway 395 and south of Interstate 182, along with the area west of Broadmoor Boulevard.
Tom Larsen currently represents District 1 in central Pasco. He used to hold one of two at-large seats, but the council voted in February to move him to the vacant district as a result of council district revamping.
Larsen put up some resistance earlier this year to the proposed interim fix, saying he should get the remaining at-large seat under the new system. However, he eventually voted with his colleagues in favor of the reassignments, which let Mayor Matt Watkins keep the single at-large post.
Larsen was first elected in 2001 when he unseated Dan Lathim.
Joan Larsen said she is retired now but used to work as a teacher and an accountant. She asked for time to get her thoughts together before explaining further why she is running for office.
Francik, a librarian and teacher at Rowena Chess Elementary School in Pasco, has been on the council for 21 years.
District 1: Blanche Barajas announced that she will run for the open seat. She plans to file her paperwork Friday.
No one else has come forward for the district, which covers a narrow swath of central Pasco between Interstate 182 and Court Street, with Road 36 on the western border to east Pasco around the railroad.
Barajas said she feels her background will help her “bring more diverse experiences to bear on our community’s opportunities and challenges.”
She is a volunteer board member with Elijah Family Homes, a member of the Latino Professional Leadership group and Ignite Youth Mentoring, as well as other community groups.
A California native, Barajas said she moved to Pasco in 2005 “full of hope and a desire for a fresh start.” She said it has been a wonderful community to raise her two teenage sons.
“My election will not only bring diversity to the complex community we live in, but also a voice to women, young leaders, single parents and the hard working groups of all ages that make up our community,” Barajas said in a news release.
District 4: Roberto Garcia and Pete Serrano added their names to the race against appointed Councilman Chi Flores.
Serrano, a 36-year-old Department of Energy attorney, is looking to change how the rest of the community sees Pasco.
When he moved to the area, he was told, “Don’t go to Pasco.”
“I have not seen any of the concerns that anybody raised,” he said. “I hope to help perpetuate the positive image of the city.”
Serrano was one of the 11 applicants that sought the seat after the death of Councilman Mike Garrison in July. Flores was appointed to fill the spot.
As an attorney, he has worked with various local governments, including school districts and cities, to accomplish their goals.
“My purpose in running is to make sure the local voice in my district are heard,” he said.
Garcia could not be reached about his reasons for filing.
District 1: Produce facility manager Mike Massey is challenging two-term incumbent school board member Heather Kintzley.
A father of four daughters in Kennewick schools, Massey is concerned about his children’s future. He cited a recent decision by the board to expand a free meal program to 6,000 students across 10 schools.
The money for that decision is coming from a federal government, which is already borrowing money and his children are going to be saddled with the expense, he said.
“I think the parents need to be the ones to take responsibility for feeding their children,” he said. “I think that funding needs to come from within the district.”
Massey, 46, has lived in the area for 10 years, and with his banking, business and farming experience, he said he would be an asset to the board.
“I’m just a concerned parent,” he said. “I’ll definitely be attending more school board meetings and getting familiar with the school board.”
Position 1: Jessica Monterey is the third candidate to announce her bid to fill the position currently held by Mayor Bob Thompson. She said she plans to officially file Friday .
Richland’s mayor is a sitting council member appointed to the position. Thompson hasn’t filed for re-election yet.
Rhoda Williams and Kalen Finn previously filed for a position.
Monterey, a mother of two, said she moved to the city to provide a better life for her daughters. She wants to make sure residents’ concerns are heard.
She has heard from other residents about the need to improve the recycling program, manage traffic better and make sure the community grows in a responsible manner.
“I have become increasingly disappointed with our current representatives to the city council and I decided that complaining wasn’t going to solve anything,” she said. “I hope to be a driving force for growth, sustainability and an increasingly healthy environment for all our community’s resident.”
Position 6: Appointed Councilman Steven Shupe recieved a second challenger, Kate Moran.
Moran, a U.S. Navy veteran, said the city needs to address the quality of its streets and the lack of “daytime employment” within the community.
“Economic growth is a significant concern in West Richland because there needs to be a balance between maintaining the grandeur of rolling hills and pastures while providing economic opportunities and services to residents,” she said.
She also is looking to increase the amount of interaction with the public, pointing out that comments are limited to three minutes at the beginning of the meetings.
“Our elected officials need to have open conversations with citizens in public forums in order to best serve our community.”