West Richland Mayor Donna Noski has decided against running for re-election, and at least one person has already tossed a hat into the ring.
Councilman Brent Gerry announced Wednesday that he will file on May 13 to run for mayor. Filing for all elected positions in Benton County runs from May 13-17.
This is Gerry's fourth year on the city council. During that time, the mayor, council and city staff have worked long hours digging deep into the city's needs, he said.
"We've held town hall meetings, done surveys and worked hard on goals and a vision for the West Richland of the future. I really want to see our plans for the city move forward," Gerry said. "I don't want to see a damper put on economic development."
In West Richland's "strong mayor" form of government, the mayor is voted into office by residents, not appointed by the council.
"We have an outstanding council and outstanding staff," Noski said. "West Richland is a growing city and we need to continue working on our strategic vision and plans. I know Brent has the leadership skills to do that.
"Being mayor has been hugely rewarding but it seems in this 'strong mayor' form of government it takes a big commitment," Noski said. "I want to be retired, to spend time with my grandchildren and travel."
Gerry, the owner of Richland AutoCare Center, has the flexibility to be a full-time mayor, he said.
That's important because Noski eliminated the position of city manager/administrator when she was elected four years ago, he said. There is no money in the budget to hire someone to fill that job if the mayor is not full-time.
"My business is self-supportive and runs itself with the staff I have in place," he said.
Noski often has called on Gerry to fill in for her at functions and events because he can take off time during the business day, he said. If elected, he would split his time between the mayor's office at city hall and a satellite office at his business, which is just a mile and a half away.
"West Richland's city offices are spread between three buildings, so staff doesn't work together anyway," Gerry said. "Council members and staff do the majority of their communicating via texting, email and phone."
Gerry's endorsements include Noski, Port of Kennewick commissioner Skip Novakovich, Port of Benton commissioner Roy Keck, and former Benton County commissioner Leo Bowman, he said.
-- Loretto J. Hulse: 582-1513; email@example.com