West Richland has worked through times of turmoil over the past decade or so, with all the usual problems that sudden growth spurts bring.
During the last 20 years, the city's population has jumped from fewer than 2,300 residents to more than 11,600.
No wonder the city's continued expansion is a key issue in this year's election.
Our support goes to the candidates we believe are best poised to help West Richland deal with the inevitable challenges.
Brown vs. Curtiss
Through all this, Gail Brown has been a steadying hand and an effective representative of her constituents for 12 years on the city council.
In her bid for re-election to Position 3, Brown faces a well-prepared and thoughtful opponent, Johan Curtiss, who has worked for the city's betterment for two decades.
As the challenger, Curtiss lays out a positive program for continued development of the city. She has seven years experience on the Economic Development Board.
But Brown, as a "lifelong, born and raised" native of West Richland is, we think, the better choice.
At least one idea Curtiss advanced to the Herald editorial board was startling.
Without putting a timeline on it, she thinks the city should consider selling the city hall complex to private business and find a new site. Why? Because she thinks city hall occupies some of the best commercial real estate in West Richland, and the sale could be a development tool.
It requires a stretch of the imagination the Herald found difficult to accept.
Brown, however, sees a history of practical advances made during her terms: "Widening Bombing Range Road ... building Keene Road, expanding Bombing Range Sports Complex ... constructing two water reservoirs, doubling the capacity of the wastewater treatment plant and more."
And, something old-timers who remember their recent history will appreciate, "We provide the residents in West Richland with a first-class water system and wastewater system."
In a race between two able and thoughtful campaigners, Gail Brown's reputation as a steadying hand in times of change, earned over 12 years on the council, is the deciding factor.
Hanneman vs. Bloom
Candidates for West Richland City Council Position 4 approach the issue of growth from different perspectives.
Challenger Richard Bloom's philosophy, "Better, not just bigger," sounds reasonable, but we worry that his inclination is to keep a lid on growth.
It's Bloom's second run at the city council. He didn't make it past the primary in his bid two years ago, but this August he edged out a third candidate to advance to the general election.
The 57-year-old environmental compliance officer for the Plutonium Finishing Plant at the Hanford site has lived in West Richland for seven years.
Bloom is articulate and a creative thinker, but his ideas on growth seem out of touch with the majority of West Richland voters.
For awhile, he advocated a merger with Richland as a way to take pressure off the smaller city to find new sources of revenue.
Bloom hasn't made consolidation part of his current platform, but he still seems motivated by a desire to preserve West Richland's semi-rural lifestyle.
Incumbent Mark Hanneman's focus on managing growth to broaden the tax base seems a better fit for the West Richland that exists today.
Hanneman, 53, was elected to a partial term two years ago, when a resignation created a vacancy on the council. His re-election bid is for a full four-year term.
He's a counterintelligence officer for the Department of Energy, and before that he served as a special agent in the Air Force's Office of Special Investigations.
Given that background, it isn't surprising that Hanneman lists public safety as a primary concern or that his campaign material boasts of West Richland's low crime rate.
But law enforcement isn't the extent of his experience or interests. He's lived in West Richland since 1995 and served on the city's Economic Development Board before joining the council.
West Richland has made significant progress in the past two years and is poised for additional growth in the immediate future.
Hanneman's background and priorities are a good match for the city.
The Herald recommends Gail Brown and Mark Hanneman for West Richland City Council.