The choice between the candidates vying to replace state Rep. Maureen Walsh in the 16th Legislative District is a tough call.
Walsh, a Republican from College Place, is running unopposed for a state Senate spot held by Sen. Mike Hewitt, R-Walla Walla, who is retiring.
Her vacated House seat attracted several candidates in the primary, and the top two vote-getters who emerged from the pack are impressive.
Voters will have to choose between two dedicated community boosters — Prosser businessman Bill Jenkin, a Republican, or Pasco City Councilwoman Rebecca Francik, a Democrat.
Either candidate will serve the district well. But since we have to lean, we lean toward Francik.
She has had a longer stint in local government and has participated on state commissions that involved prioritizing and funding water, sewer and highway projects throughout Washington. Such background makes her better prepared to navigate the state political system.
Francik and her husband have lived in Pasco since 1983 and have raised seven children. She was appointed to the Pasco City Council 20 years ago and has served ever since.
Pasco’s growth has erupted under her watch, and her years of experience helping guide that expansion cannot be ignored.
Francik grew up on a farm, so she is no stranger to the agricultural industry. She also is a librarian at Rowena Chess Elementary School in Pasco, which gives her a unique perspective on education issues.
How to deal with school funding challenges brought about by the McLeary lawsuit will be at the forefront of the Legislature next session, and her background as a long-time educator would be a plus in the conversation.
In that realm, Jenkin also has some experience. He was elected to the Prosser School Board in 2013, so he would bring that insight to the education-funding debate.
Jenkin has operated the Edward Jones investment office in Prosser for many years and owns a winery. Add that together and it is apparent he understands agricultural issues as well as finances.
We have no doubt Jenkin’s business acumen would serve him well if elected. He is a hard-working man, driven to improving his community. He brought the Boys and Girls Club to Prosser, is a district governor of the Rotary, past president of the Prosser Chamber of Commerce and a current member of the Prosser Economic Development Association.
He is fiscally conservative, but said he would not sign a “no tax pledge” because he did not want to be “beholden” to it. He said he does not want to “owe anybody anything,”
We like his attitude.
However, Francik also told us she is “not into party politics” and is more about finding solutions. She appears to have a sensible take on issues we think most people in the district — and in the state— would come to appreciate.
We have said before that we would prefer to have a voice in both caucuses representing our community. Francik gets our nod because her two decades of experience in local and state government give her an edge. But we also believe having a moderate Democrat from our Republican-dominated part of the state would be an added benefit.
Jenkin likely would dive right in if elected. Francik, though, already has tested the murky waters of state government, and that experience makes the difference.
The Tri-City Herald recommends Democrat Rebecca Francik for state representative, 16th District, Position 1.
Look for our recommendation Wednesday in the Franklin County Commission race between incumbent Bob Koch and challenger Rocky Mullen.