After nine years on the Kennewick City Council, Bob Parks has his eyes on a higher office.
Parks told the Herald on Friday that he is forming an exploratory committee for a possible run for the 8th District legislative seat currently occupied by Rep. Larry Haler, R-Richland.
Parks also is a Republican.
He said he plans to meet with residents, business owners, labor representatives and educators to find out where their thoughts lie and gauge his potential as a candidate.
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He said he has support in the community -- including from some Democrats.
"I am pleasantly surprised by the number of people expressing their support for me as a candidate for state Legislature," Parks said. "I am excited about the opportunity to communicate to the residents my sincere desire to continue my work in growing our economy, ensuring our government operates in a transparent manner and enhancing our quality of life."
Parks perhaps is best known as being vocal on immigration issues. He has supported efforts to make English the official language of Kennewick and Washington, to end the practice of allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain Washington driver's licenses, and to make participation in E-Verify a requirement for new hires and contractors working with the city's government.
He said although most people know him for his stance on immigration, he won't be a one-issue candidate.
Parks said he also has a strong interest in education funding, and in particular the way the middle class seems to be getting squeezed out of higher education by rising tuition and shrinking pools of financial aid.
"I want to represent the working class families being left out. They make too much money to get help, and not enough to pay the costs," he said. "And I'm one of them. I've got a daughter going to (Eastern State University) next year. I've paid all of these taxes, but my kid doesn't qualify for the money."
Parks also has advocated for ending the sales tax exemption for residents of Idaho and Oregon who shop in Washington, and opposed a contract with City Manager Marie Mosley that would give her a chance at $10,000 annual bonuses and a six-month severance payout if she were to be involuntarily terminated within her first five years of employment.
He also has publicly said that he wants to sell the carousel that has been sitting in storage to recoup the estimated $830,000 the city has invested in the antique since 2003.