Bob Thompson returned to the mayor’s chair in Richland and already he’s raring to make energy the centerpiece of his new job.
The Richland City Council elected Thompson to a two-year term as mayor in a secret ballot election this week. Thompson is a solo practice attorney who has served on the city council since 1994 and last served as mayor from 2000 to 2004.
In a separate secret ballot, the council elected Terry Christensen mayor pro tem. Christensen joined the council in 2011, shortly after he retired from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.
The council also seated its newest member, Dori Luzzo Gilmour. Gilmour received the lowest number of votes in the November general election, meaning she will serve a two-year term rather than four years.
The mayorship is a mostly ceremonial post with the same voting power as the other six council members. A city administrator oversees daily operations of the city, which has a 2016 budget of $214.8 million. The mayor leads council meetings and council members take turns representing the city at special events as they have time.
The ceremonial nature of the job isn’t stopping Mayor Bob Thompson from using it as a bully pulpit to tout energy as the region’s economic future.
The ceremonial nature of the job isn’t stopping Thompson from using it as a bully pulpit to tout energy as the region’s economic future.
Thompson said the region needs to recognize that the Hanford cleanup won’t last forever. It needs to build its future on something else and the something else on his mind is energy in all its facets — Nuclear, renewable, manufacturing and more.
While Thompson considers global warming “claptrap,” the Tri-Cities can capitalize on demand for carbon-free power.
“We need to understand what a gold mine the Tri-Cities can be from an energy perspective,” he said, adding, “We need to push that energy future. I plan to put as much energy as I can into that.”
We need to understand what a gold mine the Tri-Cities can be from an energy perspective. We need to push that energy future. I plan to put as much energy as I can into that.
Bob Thompson, Richland mayor
He called on local, state and federal leaders to imagine a new mission for the Hanford site. The four cities have strong leaders well positioned to advocate for the community.
“We have the brightest future if we just go ahead and seize it.”
Thompson graduated from Richland High School. He earned an undergraduate degree from Washington State University and a law degree from Willamette University and for many years was a criminal defense lawyer in Benton and Franklin counties. He said his Pasco practice now focuses mostly on mental health law.
Wendy Culverwell: 509-582-1514, @WendyCulverwell