Bob Thompson, the blunt-talking mayor of Richland, survived a strong primary challenge to win a spot on the Nov. 7 ballot.
Thompson’s take-no-prisoners style helped draw three challengers but it did not deter voters.
With roughly 87 percent of ballots cast in Tuesday’s primary counted, Thompson held a commanding lead with 2,417 votes or nearly 36 percent of the ballots cast.
As mayor, Thompson’s plain, sometimes abrasive, rhetoric on a $20 car tab fee to help pay for the Duportail Bridge and other controversial efforts, including the Rachel Road extension across the Amon Basin Natural Preserve, helped draw challengers.
It appears he will square off against Rhoda Williams, a Richland business owner who secured 1,717 votes or just over 25 percent.
Kalen Finn was a close third with 1,626 votes or 24 percent.
Jess Monterey, a newcomer to the Tri-Cities, received 974 votes, or 14 percent, according to election results posted by the Benton County Elections office shortly after polls closed at 8 p.m.
There are an estimated 3,000 ballots countywide left to count, making it unlikely the results will change as additional ballots trickle in.
Thompson’s position is one of four Richland City Council seats up for election this year. Three incumbents are seeking re-election. A fourth, David Rose, is retiring from the council.
All four positions drew three or more candidates as interest in city government, fueled by the unpopular $20 car tabs and the city’s reticence to embrace a generic declaration of inclusiveness inspired newcomers to stand for election.
That frustration wasn’t on evidence in Tuesday’s results. Incumbents Sandra Kent and Dori Luzzo Gilmour were both leading their contests for Positions 3 and 7, respectively. (See related story)
Thompson is a city council member who holds the mostly ceremonial title of mayor, selected by his fellow council members to a two-year run in 2016. The new council will choose the next mayor when it is seated in January.
He is an attorney in private practice, specializing in criminal work and is based in Pasco.
Rhoda Williams owns Miss Rhoda’s Wine Garden in Richland and said she fell in love with her adopted city because of the warm welcome she received. She has pledged to be a voice of small business.
As a candidate, Williams has encouraged Richland residents to put the $20 car tab fee behind them, saying the city made the best decision it could.
“I’ve embraced it and I would love to see the residents embrace it,” she said.