Just a week after forming an exploratory committee, Kennewick City Councilman Bob Parks has made official his run for the 8th District legislative seat occupied by Rep. Larry Haler.
Parks and a handful of supporters gathered Saturday at the 9/11 Memorial at Southridge to make the official announcement that Parks will file as a candidate in the legislative race.
He told the Herald that he received a strong response when he said March 9 that he was considering a run.
"The next Monday, I got a lot of calls and text messages (in support)," he said.
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He said the timing also seemed right given the flurry of other political announcements made in the past week, as Benton County Commissioner Leo Bowman said he won't run again, Sen. Jerome Delvin announced his candidacy for Bowman's seat, and Haler said he likely will apply for Delvin's seat in the Senate if Delvin is elected to the commission.
"Things just fell into place," Parks said.
Although he is running against fellow Republican Haler, Parks said he plans to stay positive as he campaigns.
"People are tired of dirty campaigns. We see it on a national level," he said. "I'm looking forward to running a nice, clean campaign."
He hasn't fully revealed a platform yet but spoke briefly Saturday about the needs for education reform, drug testing for welfare recipients and programs to encourage job creation.
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 and hopes his reputation for fiscal responsibility will resonate with voters.
Parks 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.