In the race for election to Position 7 on Richland’s City Council, we recommend the incumbent, Dori Luzzo Gilmour.
Gilmour says she agonized over her vote for the city’s move to impose a $20 car tab fee on residents to help pay for the Duportail Bridge and other road work.
Her opponent Michael Alvarez is sure he could have helped the city save money, but we are not convinced his suggestions would quickly secure the funds needed for the project.
Building the Duportail Bridge across the Yakima River has been a civic priority in Richland for at least a decade. A gap of $4 million was keeping the project from finally moving forward, and the city council unanimously decided this year to impose a $20 car tab fee on Richland residents to help make up the difference.
The vote caused outrage among many in the community. Luzzo Gilmour said improving safety was her primary concern, and linking Central Richland to Queensgate with the bridge would cut down on emergency response times.
She also said she understands how $20 can be a burden. “I am that person,” she said.
An issue in this Richland Council campaign is the follow-up to a news story that Luzzo Gilmour and her husband were behind in paying their property taxes. That problem has been addressed honestly by the couple and most of the arrears paid up.
Luzzo Gilmour, showing embarrassment and sorrow, admitted she and her husband had had a couple of bad financial years but it never interfered with her service to the city.
“I’m probably the only city council person who ever had to go to a food bank before,” she told a Herald reporter. “We are not wealthy.”
She passionately promotes service to community by all, regardless of wealth.
She and her husband made payments on their mortgage, and kept their children in private Catholic schools, showing her priorities were with her family.
In other words, in a time of trouble, the parents put the security of their home and education of their children first. Like so many Americans who have faced challenges in life, this is not a shameful situation, a defect of character or one upon which elections should hinge.
Luzzo Gilmour has used her time on the council to study the issues and strive to serve the best interests of Richland. This shows in her philosophy of service, personal and political.
She was elected in 2015 and is completing a two-year term under Richland’s unique system of giving a shorter council term to the winning candidate who wins with the fewest votes.
In this era of many divisions in the country, Luzzo Gilmour appears to work well with — and respects — her fellow council members.
We also think she is right when she notes government boards need to include people who try to represent the needs of as many of their fellow citizens as possible, and she enthusiastically supports the idea of declaring the city an “inclusive” community.
Her opponent is a solid candidate, but needs more experience in how to convey his message in a tough political arena.
Alvarez is a long-time Richland resident and Marine Corps veteran who owns Vision Mortgage. He serves on the Richland Parks and Recreation Commission.
Alvarez — a numbers man who promotes his positions and ideas with self-assurance — is a candidate with an acute focus on the details surrounding the issues.
To us, he seemed to identify more with gaining an objective than seeking a consensus position that serves all. We would like to see him work on that and continue his civic involvement. He is an asset to the community and we hope he uses his financial acuity to keep leaders on their toes.
In the meantime, Luzzo Gilmour has learned much in her two years on the city council and provides a unique and needed voice to the group.
The Herald recommends Dori Luzzo Gilmour for Richland City Council, Position 7.