Voters will get a chance to choose between two elected officials for Franklin County Commission District 2 who cite experience and personality as reasons voters should pick them as the top candidate in the Nov. 6 election.
Pasco City Councilman Al Yenney is challenging incumbent Bob Koch for the position Koch has held for the last eight years.
Koch, 70, of Connell, said he has projects he started as a commissioner that he wants to see through, including the construction of the remodeled and expanded county jail.
"I just feel I have lots left to do for the county," he said.
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Koch said he was proud of his work on the Juniper Dunes access and the new jail. "It is something I've advocated for eight years," he said.
Koch said he has the history with the county to do the job, including knowledge of how the whole county works and the budget.
Yenney, 66, of Pasco, said he feels he will be more active as a commissioner, and said he will bring his dedication to researching state law and the issues to the position. He said he also reaches a broad range of people.
"I felt we needed a stronger personality," he said.
Yenney, owner of Al's Repair in Pasco, said he will treat the commissioner position as a full-time job and will give up his Pasco council seat if elected.
Yenney said he would represent all of District 2 if elected, and would make sure to spend a lot of time in the northern portions of the county. He said his family has a farming background.
The county's biggest challenge right now is credibility after the discovery of an alleged embezzlement of $2.8 million, Yenney said.
Dennis Huston, the county's former public works accounting manager, was fired in February on suspicion of embezzling from the county.
The only way the county can get that credibility back is to have a leadership team that works together and respects each other, Yenney said. Commissioners and the elected department heads need to work together to head in one direction and earn back credibility.
Koch said the county needs to have Huston's trial over. That's when the discussion will have a chance of ending.
The county's greatest challenge is revenue, Koch said. The state and federal governments are in similar positions.
The economy is what will solve the county's revenue troubles, he said. That's through economic development, and seeing more construction and retail sales.
The county has already made cuts, and people are really what is left, Koch said. "We are so lean right now," he said.
Koch said he made the motion to freeze the salaries for commission districts 1 and 2 starting next year, which was approved by the commission. Commissioners can only set the salaries for those elected for the next term, not their own. Commissioners earn $89,780 a year.
Yenney said he feels the county needs to play a larger role in encouraging economic development county-wide and focus on things beyond what the Port of Pasco does.
And Franklin County and the cities need to work together better to consolidate expenses and help deal with the cuts coming from the state and federal governments, he said.
Both Yenney and Koch say they think that the residents of the so-called county doughnut hole should have a chance to vote on whether they want to be part of Pasco, which surrounds them on all sides.
Yenney said he takes issue with pulling in residents living in that part of unincorporated county who didn't sign water agreements with the city that said they wouldn't oppose being annexed.