By the Herald editorial staff
Kennewick voters face a dizzying array of candidates vying for five seats on the city council.
Fortunately, each possesses the qualifications and experience the job requires. We're convinced any one of them would be an asset to the council.
Unfortunately, that also means five tough decisions for Kennewick voters.
We think a mix of council experience and fresh perspectives will best serve the city, and that's led us to recommend a mix of incumbents and challengers.
We weighed in on three races in earlier editorials. Today we're covering the final two contests.
Parks vs. Bluechel
Challenger Candice Bluechel has taken the right steps to prepare for a seat on the city council.
She served on the Kennewick Planning Commission, completed Leadership Tri-Cities training and holds a master's degree in business administration.
She's been a small-business owner and works now as the business services outreach manager for WorkSource Columbia Basin.
She's worked on economic development with TRIDEC and is active in civic life. Her knowledge of issues and policies is extensive, and her views are pragmatic and thoughtful.
In short, she'd make a fine councilwoman.
But our nod goes to Bob Parks. The two-term incumbent's allegiance to the city and its residents is beyond question.
More importantly, Parks is sometimes the lone voice of dissent on the council. We don't always agree with his objections or his ideas, but he provides a needed antidote to the council's tendency to move in lockstep.
His record reveals him to be more fiscally conservative than other council members. He's opposed to spending more city money on the antique carousel, for example, and was the only council member to oppose a $73 million capital projects plan.
Even when he's wrong -- his proposal to make illegal immigration the concern of Kennewick landlords, for example -- he brought value to the discussion.
Parks needs to be careful, however, and remember that it's a short step from providing balance to playing the contrarian. So far, he seems able to steer clear of that line.
He's shown a commitment to open government and public participation in the decisions affecting the city. He doesn't hesitate to reach out to critics to learn more about their concerns.
Parks appears ready and committed to continue serving. We think he ought to have the chance.
Smart vs. Young
Chris Smart is a young man going places. He graduated from Southridge in 2003 and is more active in the community in his mid-20s than most others are in a lifetime.
He's the assistant manager at JCPenney and is active in Junior Achievement, Rotary and United Way.
He is running against Steve Young, who was appointed to the council two years ago -- well after its most controversial actions.
The vote to purchase the carousel and land-use decisions that led to the successful lawsuit in Columbia Park both occurred before Young's tenure.
In fact, he is critical of the city's fiscal policies, accusing the council of sometimes spending money without knowing enough about where it will come from.
Young has served on the city planning commission and the Kennewick Public Facilities District Board of Directors. He also represents the city on a lengthy list of boards and committees.
In his two years on the council, Young has brought his professional management and planning skills to the table and has done a good job.
Smart does not have the same depth of knowledge as his opponent and readily admits it. He is quick to point out, though, that he's skilled at obtaining the information needed to make good decisions.
From what we've seen, we believe him.
Smart is enthusiastic and congenial. Even his opponent likes him and sees a role for this young go-getter in community leadership.
In fact, Young has pledged to mentor Smart regardless of who wins this race.
Smart's youth would be an asset to the council. What better way to attract and retain young professionals than to put one on the council?
Young's proven abilities make this a tough choice, but we're confident in Smart's potential. This race is a good opportunity to start developing the next generation of community leaders.
The Herald editorial board recommends Bob Parks for Kennewick City Council and Chris Smart for Kennewick City Council Position 7.