An incumbent Hanford lawyer and a Canon senior sales executive currently serving as chairman of the Richland Planning Commission are vying for a seat on the Richland City Council.
Sandra Kent, 46, a senior labor and employment lawyer for CH2M Hill, was appointed to the council in 2008 to fill a vacancy when former Mayor Rob Welch resigned.
She was elected in 2009 to fill the remainder of that term, and now is seeking her first full term in Position 3 on the council.
Kent is a native of Missouri who has lived in Richland and worked at the Hanford site for about 12 years.
Never miss a local story.
Kent Madsen, 64, has served on the planning commission since 2005, including more than two years as chairman, and at one time was a seatmate of Sandra Kent's on the commission.
"I love Sandra," he told the Herald. "When she was appointed to the council, I also applied. She was a good pick."
But Madsen said he believes the council needs a fresh perspective and that he can bring practical business experience to the job.
Madsen is a Richland native who returned in 2002 after living for many years in Spokane and traveling extensively for a sales career with large companies such as General Electric and Sara Lee.
"She comes with a law perspective," he said. "I come with a practical perspective."
Kent said she brings much more to the council than her law degree.
"Law happens to be my current profession, but it hasn't been my only profession," she said. "I've spent more than a decade doing regulatory compliance work, agreement negotiation and construction management. I used to be a project manager for a site where we would do hazardous and toxic waste cleanups. My non-law experience just gives me more depth on being able to evaluate issues. I'm not just looking at it as a lawyer."
Kent said she is proud that during her time on the council, the council has developed a strategic plan that's guiding the city's policies and budget.
"I am very proud to have been a part of that because both the council and staff have been able to basically re-invent both how money is spent and how it's managed," she said.
As a result, Richland has been able to maintain its level of service for citizens through the recession without facing some of the difficult cuts other jurisdictions have had to make.
"We were lucky we started doing this before the severe downturn in the economy," Kent said.
She also points to the establishment of a Code Enforcement Board to deal with nuisance complaints as a significant accomplishment since she has been on the council. Kent serves as the council's liaison to that board.
"Code enforcement staff and the board have done a really great job," she said. "We want to help people clean their yards, get the trash out and move their stuff. Even though some people would prefer a more aggressive approach, that's not really the program we're running here in Richland. We're giving people notice and the opportunity to correct and help to correct without resorting to the fine and penalty system."
But nuisances -- particularly on city-owned property -- is one area where Madsen said he thinks more can be done. He noted weeds growing along George Washington Way and a house on the street that property records show has been abandoned for more than 20 years with no action.
"I am very concerned about our code enforcement and abandoned homes in Richland," he said. "We can do better than that. ... When people can turn their front yards into a dirt parking lot, and we have streets that need to be repaired ... when a neighbor destroys their property, it is very disappointing."
In addition to code enforcement, Madsen would like to see the city focus on developing the area along Swift Boulevard near Kadlec Regional Medical Center as a medical district.
He said he was disappointed the council wouldn't consider Kadlec's request to close part of Goethals Drive where it passes the hospital. Hospital officials said they were concerned about patients and visitors crossing the street and potentially facing danger from traffic.
"Quite frankly, these are visionary plans," he said of Kadlec's plans for future expansion of its campus. "These are plans that can really shape the future of the center of Richland and provide tremendous medical modalities we don't have now."
The council position pays $1,038 a month.
Council terms typically are four years, but the winner of whichever race is closest in the Nov. 8 general election will get a two-year term. That's how Richland's charter ensures a majority of the council is up for election every two years.
For more information about Madsen's campaign, go to www.votekentmadsen.com.
Sandra Kent does not have a campaign website.
-- Michelle Dupler: 582-1543; firstname.lastname@example.org