Kennewick City Councilman Bob Parks is scheduled to kick off his campaign for 8th District state representative at 5 p.m. today at The Country Gentleman restaurant in Kennewick.
Parks announced in March that he plans to run against incumbent Rep. Larry Haler, R-Richland.
Haler kicked off his re-election campaign at the Shilo Inn in Richland on May 24. More than 200 people attended, and Haler earned endorsements from the Benton County Republican Party, Mainstream Republicans of Washington, Tri-City Republican Women's Club, Washington Realtors, Tri-City Association of Realtors and Richland Fire Fighters.
Parks, also a Republican, told the Herald his early support has been more bipartisan and has included endorsements from many of the labor unions as well as business owners.
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"It shows I'm willing to work across the aisle," Parks said. "There has to be a balance between business and labor."
His campaign is focusing on education reform, gang prevention, drug testing for welfare recipients, citizenship verification for drive's licenses 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 state, 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.
Although most people know him for his stance on immigration, Parks has said his campaign will tackle a range of issues, and he 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 he wants to sell the 102-year-old carousel that has been sitting in storage to recoup the estimated $830,000 the city has invested since 2003.
Tonight's campaign event is open to anyone. Organizers are suggesting a $25 donation.
-- On the Net: www.electbobparks.com; www.larryhaler.com
-- Michelle Dupler: 582-1543; firstname.lastname@example.org