West Richland voters have plenty to weigh in on in the Nov. 7 election.
Along with the mayor race, four contested city council races are on the ballot.
Council members are paid $500 per month, plus a $50 monthly vehicle allowance.
Here’s a look at the council candidates:
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Smart vs. Perkes
In the race for Position 1, Councilman John E. Smart is looking to defend his seat against Robert Perkes, a former councilman.
Smart is a senior research engineer, and Perkes is a West Richland business owner.
In the voter guide, Smart said that he’s committed to representing “fiscal policy that protects our taxpayers now and into the future.”
He said he’ll promote open communication and full disclosure of reasoning in decision making. He’ll encourage the council to listen to residents, he said.
“Business growth in West Richland is critical — but growing business in a way that does not negatively impact current residents or our rural atmosphere is even more important. West Richland residents appreciate open space and our ‘low density’ environment. I will fight to maintain that unique character of our small town,” he said.
Perkes said in the voter guide that he’ll think, prepare, be decisive and lead.
“The world is changing, and new challenges face cities as they prepare for the future. We must not let fear govern our choices. If we don’t make the tough choices, they will be made for us. We need leaders that aren’t scared of failure or hurt feelings. We need leaders with vision. We must set a bold course and agenda for our city,” he said.
He said he’s logged many hours serving the community, on the city council and planning commission and with other groups, and “I can be an effective advocate from the start.”
Buel vs. Johnson
In the race for Positionn 2, Councilman Rich Buel faces challenger Merle N. Johnson, a former councilman.
Buel is a Department of Energy public affairs specialist, and Johnson is the owner of Johnson Farms.
Buel said in the voter guide that West Richland is often described as a bedroom community, but “it’s been my belief that West Richlanders deserve far more than a place to come and go to sleep.”
Citizens deserve parks and recreational opportunities, shops, maintained roads, reliable city services, safe neighborhoods, good schools and affordable taxes, he said.
Since he joined the council in 2002, “we’ve provided all of these things and more,” he said, adding that the city is moving in the right direction.
“Let’s keep the positive momentum going,” he said.
When Johnson looks into West Richland’s future, he sees a city “growing with residential and commercial developments,” he said in the voter guide.
“I want to help balance the impacts of this growth on our existing neighborhoods,” he said.
Johnson has “had the privilege of calling the city of West Richland my home for over 20 years. I am proud to be part of a community where neighbor helps neighbor and service to the community is strong,” he said.
Brown vs. Marcum
Councilwoman Gail Brown, a social worker, is being challenged by Michelle Marcum, owner/manager of the West Richland Golf Course, in the Position 3 race.
Brown said that West Richland’s citizens, staff, police and businesses are top notch.
The city has faced challenges, but seen plenty of positive developments, too, she said in the voter guide.
“The revitalization of the Van Giesen corridor has been slow, but somewhat steady. The new Gateway Project at the entrance of our city will greatly enhance that area. Changing the area use from commercial to mixed use will give property owners more options to revitalize their properties. The badly needed public works facility brought with it a new middle school and property securement for a new high school opening up the Belmont district. The additional Belmont properties will bring in businesses and services that will further enhance our community,” she said.
Brown said she’s enjoyed watching the city change and grow, and hopes to continue contributing on the council.
Marcum said she enjoys participating in community events and wants to be even more involved by serving on the council.
Through her business and social contacts, she hears great ideas for West Richland, she said in the voter guide.
She’ll share ideas and suggestions with fellow council members and has the ability to see projects through to completion, she said.
Marcum said she’d be honored to serve and will be easily accessible to the public.
Brink vs. Moran
Fred Brink and Kate Moran are facing off for the Position 6 seat, after edging out Councilman Steven Shupe in the primary.
Brink is a manager at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and a retired FBI special agent, and Moran is a training specialist at the Hanford vitrification plant and former Navy nuclear reactor operator.
In the voter guide, Brink highlighted his public service, including 24 years with the FBI.
“Using my public service leadership and management experience, I pledge to work with the mayor, other city council members and the citizens of West Richland to explore those economic opportunities that make sense for West Richland, while preserving our suburban nature and the very high quality of life our community currently enjoys,” he said.
“I am dedicated to making our city even better, and I ask you to elect me as your voice on city council,” he said.
Moran said she believes in service — it’s why she joined the Navy.
And, “serving on the (council) would allow me to support our community and work towards solutions for our community’s challenges,” she said in the voter guide.
She’ll work on improved communication between the council and public, and she’ll collaborate with the chamber of commerce, business leaders and residents on finding the “best balance between country living and growing as a city.”
The city needs wise economic development that invests in infrastructure, while “maintaining what makes West Richland feel like home,” she said.
Moran said she’s detail-oriented and tenacious in problem solving, and “I’d like to share the skills I've learned to make our community better.”