By the Herald editorial staff
Between the mayor and city council, West Richland voters will decide on four positions in the general election. Whoever wins faces a tall order.
With its explosive growth rate, the city needs elected officials who can manage growth while preserving the city's charm and appeal.
With that in mind, we'll recommend candidates in the mayoral race and one council race today and in the remaining two on Wednesday.
Noski vs. Jackson
Four years ago, Donna Noski was part of the campaign to elect Dale Jackson as West Richland's mayor. This year she's trying to unseat him.
Bad blood obviously exists between the two, and there's much between the lines in this race, but let's stick to the facts.
It's a fact that during Dale Jackson's four-year stint as mayor, West Richland has grown. The crime rate is down, sales tax revenue is up and a master plan is in place.
The city has an updated infrastructure, water supply and waste water plant.
It's also a fact that Noski was an excellent interim city manager. She has a passion for local government and has 20 years experience on the city and county levels -- including five years on the city council.
If elected, she intends to be a full-time mayor and we suspect you would be able to wander into city hall and chat with her about your concerns most any day. There is a certain appeal to that.
She also intends to do away with the position of city administrator, saving the city $120,000 a year. Her proposal sounds tempting but raises concerns.
Jackson opposes the idea, saying that having the mayor perform the city administrator's duties puts too much power into the hands of one person.
It's true that the full-time position of city administrator in West Richland is a relatively recent development. Up until 2006 it didn't exist.
Based on the city's size, it's arguable that the position is unnecessary, especially if the mayor had the time and energy to be in the office full time.
However, West Richland is only going to get bigger. Over the next four years, a city administrator would provide needed checks and balances to the mayor's power.
A city administrator manages the day-to-day affairs of the city. He or she works closely with the department heads. Donna Noski handled those responsibilities efficiently in her temporary role.
On the other hand, Dale Jackson has done a respectable job as mayor. The past four years have brought economic development, the Van Giesen corridor is seeing some improvement and most of the city's growing pains seem under control.
Jackson's track record has earned him another term, and we have our doubts about Noski's plans for the mayor to take over the duties of the city administrator.
However, Noski has tapped into some dissatisfaction with the status quo in West Richland. If Jackson is re-elected, he needs do a better job of listening to the council and the community.
Gerry vs. Tyree
In the race for West Richland City Council Position 1, voters must decide between political novices.
Both candidates share similar positions on the issues and roughly equal qualifications.
The council's goals -- improving Van Giesen Street, getting an interchange at Interstate 82, economic development near Red Mountain -- are fine with both candidates.
Angie Tyree, a 41-year-old nurse, is a relative newcomer to West Richland, but hasn't let that stop her from playing an active role in the community.
During her six years in West Richland, Tyree helped form the West Richland Red Mountain Lions Club and has channeled much of her activism through the civic group.
She was president of her nursing class at Columbia Basin College and served on the Associated Student Body budget committee.
Her opponent, Brent Gerry, the 52-year-old owner of Richland AutoCare Center, has the advantage of business experience.
He's lived in West Richland for 16 years, but this is his first foray into community leadership.
Gerry served as vice president of a Yakima snowmobile club and the Automotive Service Association, experience that put him on a par with Tyree's political rsum.
But beyond a desire to serve his community, we haven't heard a good reason for Gerry's decision to run for city council. Or why voters should support him.
Without a clearly articulated vision for West Richland, the otherwise likeable business owner is our second choice.
Tyree's efforts to reach out to residents and develop a platform give her the edge in this contest.
The Tri-City Herald recommends Dale Jackson as West Richland mayor and Angie Tyree for West Richland City Council.