One of the most interesting matchups this election season is for a Kennewick City Council seat.
We have the CFO at Hanford running against an entrepreneur in the budding cannabis industry.
The incumbent, Councilman Greg Jones, flies way under the radar, leading quietly with a focus on numbers and financial responsibility. He is unpretentious and enjoys working behind the scenes.
Challenger Steve Lee is anything but quiet, with a Ben Franklin Transit bus displaying his larger than life image for the campaign. Lee also has a strong online and social media presence.
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It’s a study in an old-school city council campaign versus a modern-day millennial and all the technology that implies — as well as making good use of traditional media and door-belling.
And let’s not forget the money.
Lee is using the resources he has at hand to try to level the playing field with Jones, a qualified and competent incumbent.
Jones said he will spend less than $3,000 on his campaign. Lee is expecting to outlay $85,000 of his own money. A seat on the Kennewick City Council pays just $12,000 a year.
Some may say that’s not fair but it’s well within the campaign laws set by our state. It gives new life to the old saying of “put your money where your mouth is.”
Lee is serious about the race and is a lifelong political junkie, willing to do what he can with the resources he has. For those who say it’s fiscally irresponsible to spend that kind of money on a city council race, here’s some perspective: The shop Lee and his wife own in Finley produces $1.25 million in revenue per month. He also owns a second store in Tokio in Adams County. He can afford it.
Lee’s presence on the campaign trail is exciting. He wants the best for the community and his heart is in the right place. He’s a proven businessman in what has to be one of the most challenging and highly regulated industries in our state. He knows how to weed his way through piles of paperwork and find a path forward.
Jones manages a $2.5 billion budget in his day job — and despite what some may think about spending at Hanford — is fiscally conservative.
Appointed in 2013 to fill a council vacancy, Jones is a go-to city official who can answer questions when auditors visit City Hall. He’s a long-time volunteer in the community, serving on boards for Tri-City Development Council and the Red Cross, as well as the Kennewick Planning Commission and coaching high school and youth sports.
Both candidates favor the proposal for The Link — the 110,000-square-foot multipurpose center proposed to be added at the Three Rivers Campus — and both have a vision of what economic benefits could come to the Tri-Cities if voters approve the project.
Lee is a strong proponent of the arts and an alum of the Academy of Children’s Theater program. He wants Kennewick to be the best place to live and to better serve young professionals and families. In addition, Lee notes that small business owners are under-represented on the city council.
It is obvious he wants the council post, but admitted to the editorial board he has yet to attend a city council meeting. Although, he said he’s a fast learner and is certain he can do the job if elected.
Jones already has proven himself, and says it is his experience that sets him a apart. We have to agree.
Lee is a breath of fresh air on the political scene, and we likely have not seen the last of him.
But Jones is a solid council member, and it takes more than money to unseat someone who is doing their job well. For this contest, he is the better candidate.
The Tri-City Herald recommends Greg Jones for Kennewick City Council Position 2.