Two Franklin County elected officials want to unseat incumbent county Commissioner Brad Peck.
The official filing period for elected office is still a week away, but Auditor Matt Beaton and Clerk Mike Killian confirmed they intend to run for Franklin County Commission Position 1 as Republicans.
Peck, also a Republican, said he plans to seek reelection, though he considered but rejected seeking one of the open seats for the 16th Legislative District.
Four of the six county commission seats in Benton and Franklin counties are up for election this year — two in each county.
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To date, Peck is the only incumbent to draw challengers. Franklin County commissioners are elected to represent the districts in which they live.
Four of the six county commission seats in Benton and Franklin counties are up for election this year, as well as state-level offices including governor and many legislative seats. There are no local city council or school board races. Filing week is May 16-20.
Peck, Beaton and Killian all live in the Position 1 district, which generally covers the city of Pasco.
Bob Koch, whose district covers northern Franklin County, is the only announced candidate in his race.
In Benton County, commissioners Jerome Delvin and Jim Beaver both are seeking reelection. No other candidates had announced as of Friday.
That could change, of course. Filing week is May 16-20 and promises to bring candidates who have not yet made their plans public.
In Washington, state-level offices including governor, as well as a raft of legislative seats and county commission positions are up for election this year. There are no local city council or school board races.
The Franklin County Commission oversees a county operation with an annual budget of about $30 million.
Peck said there’s still work to be done in Franklin and he enjoys the post. He is a retired Air Force officer and Energy Northwest executive. He and his wife, Debra, bought the fire-damaged Moore Mansion in 2004 and have worked to restore it as a home and event venue.
Beaton is a former property assessor who became Franklin County Auditor in January 2011.
Soon after taking office, Beaton and his team detected what is thought to be the largest and longest case of government fraud in Washington history. Dennis Huston, an executive in the county roads department, embezzled an estimated $2.8 million from the county over the course of 22 years because of lax accounting controls.
Huston pleaded guilty and is serving a 16-year sentence. Franklin County has implemented an anti-fraud software system meant to prevent future thefts.
Bicounty relations have the potential to be great for delivering effective services. ... We have not acted as a focused, committed bicounty partner.
Franklin County Auditor Matt Beaton
Beaton said his focus as a commissioner would be on repairing Franklin County’s frayed relationship with Benton County, its partner in a number of services, including Superior Court, human services, juvenile justice and crisis response.
“Bicounty relations have the potential to be great for delivering effective services,” he said. Instead, the relations have deteriorated, culminating in January when Benton County terminated the joint public defenders office amid accusations Franklin County didn’t respond to its written notification that it wanted to end the relationship.
“We have not acted as a focused, committed bicounty partner,” Beaton said.
Killian has worked for Franklin County for more than 25 years, including 16 years in the elected position of clerk. He oversees a 15-person department that handles court-related work.
Killian said he appreciates that the commissioners have a difficult job balancing the needs of a growing population with severely limited resources.
I talked to the commissioners about it and they say, ‘We need to tighten our belts and do more with less.’ That only works for a few years.
Franklin County Clerk Mike Killian
But lack of cost-of-living raises and understaffing are driving away good employees and making it difficult for those who remain to keep up with the workload, he said. The Benton-Franklin Superior Court District has added two judges with no commensurate increase in support staff in his department.
His team is stretched too thin, he said.
As a commissioner, Killian said he will focus on the resources needed by departments that are mandated by law, such as the clerk, treasurer, coroner and others.
“I talked to the commissioners about it and they say, ‘We need to tighten our belts and do more with less.’ That only works for a few years,” he said.
The Washington primary is Aug. 2. The winners will advance to the Nov. 8 general election.