A retired Pacific Northwest National Laboratory worker and a practicing lawyer who heads up the Benton County GOP are vying for Richland City Council Pos. 6.
The position is being vacated by Sheila Sullivan, who opted not to run for a third term.
Sullivan has endorsed candidate Terry Christensen, recently retired from PNNL and who serves as chairman of the Richland Parks & Recreation Commission, while opponent Patrick McBurney's website says he has earned endorsements from Attorney General Rob McKenna, and State Reps. Larry Haler and Brad Klippert, among others.
The position pays $1,038 per month.
Council terms typically are four years, but the winner of whichever race is closest in the Nov. 8 general election will get a two-year term. That's how Richland's charter ensures a majority of the council is up for election every two years.
After serving a decade on the city's Parks & Recreation Commission, including several years as chairman, Christensen, 67, said he would like the opportunity to serve the city in a broader capacity.
Christensen said he believes his experience on the commission gives him a leg up in understanding how city government works.
He said the quality of life in Richland would be among his top priorities if elected. Toward that end, he would like to see the city focus on revitalizing its core -- especially the Uptown Shopping Center -- and developing Swift Boulevard as a medical district.
He also would like to see the city better link its network of trails to make Richland a more walkable city.
Christensen retired from PNNL on Aug. 1 after a 27-year career at the Hanford site, including jobs in property management, accounting, fleet management and most recently hazardous materials shipping.
"Some people want to put down that experience, but Hanford is the largest employer," Christensen said. "For people who haven't worked at Hanford, it's a large mystery world. I know the area. I know the problems. I know the people. ... It lets me relate to those people and what they want at work and off work."
While Christensen recently supported as Parks & Recreation chairman raising the city's park impact fees by 74 percent, he said he would be open to revisiting the issue if elected to the council.
He explained that as parks chairman, he had to take a narrow view looking only at what was in the best interest of the city's parks system and was constrained by the impact fees being the only way the city funds land acquisition for new parks.
But as a councilman, he would be representing the entire city and its broad range of interests, and would be willing to talk about other ways to pay for parks than charging development fees.
-- Online: christensen2011.com
McBurney, 45, is a practicing attorney and chairman of the Benton County GOP.
He said he likely would resign from the GOP position if elected to the council rather than try to juggle both responsibilities.
McBurney, who has lived in Richland on and off since 1981 and permanently since 1997, said he has running for city council because he's had a lifelong interest in government and a desire to serve -- and that despite speculation by some, he doesn't view the city council as a stop along the way toward a higher political office, nor does he view it as a partisan position.
"I have a 10-year-old son who doesn't need me to be anywhere else but here," McBurney said. "My motivation for running is not as a stepping stone, but because I think because of my political experience I have things to add. I have no plans to run for any other offices at least until my son is out of high school."
As a council member, economic development and business growth would be his top priorities. He also would step up efforts to diversify the city's economy in preparation for the eventual closure of Hanford.
He said the best way to plan for a post-Hanford Richland is to bring in new jobs to replace the old ones that will go away.
He also would like to see the city encourage private developers to revitalize the city's core and the Uptown Shopping Center.
McBurney said he also would be open to reconsidering the park impact fees recently adopted by the council.
"At this particular time, I don't support the imposition of park impact fees," he said. "In a couple of years if the economy is better, we could look at that issue again. I might be more inclined to do it. Given the current state of the economy, I don't think it's appropriate."
McBurney said he thinks city government needs to balance community needs with individual interests without going too far either way.
"Effective government by nature has to be limited. That type of government recognizes it can't do everything for everybody, nor should it," he said.
-- Online: patrickmcburney.org
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* Michelle Dupler: 509-582-1543; firstname.lastname@example.org