Washington Policy Center opens Tri-City office

KENNEWICK -- Congressman Doc Hastings wants Tri-Citians to be engaged in civic discussions with the help of the Washington Policy Center.

The Seattle-based nonpartisan public policy organization recently opened offices in Eastern Washington, including one in the Tri-Cities, and held a kickoff event Wednesday at the Kennewick Red Lion Hotel.

The center provides free market-based solutions to problems through research and debate, Hastings, R-Wash., told the gathering of about 100 business leaders, public officials and Tri-City residents.

Washington Policy Center's focus is on issues such as budget reform, health care, education, the environment, the small-business climate and transportation, and it is committed to promoting sound policies based on common sense and to help keep the workings of the government "open and transparent," said George Nethercutt, a former Republican member of Congress from Spokane and a WPC board member.

The center wants to start a conversation with the public about issues that affect the community, said Chris Cargill, director for the Eastern Washington office.

Tri-City business owner Bob Tippett, who was elected to the center's board last year, said WPC's presence will help give the region a stronger voice on the west side. The center's unbiased approach to doing research and its perspective of looking at outcomes instead of "sentiments" makes it credible, Tippett said.

He said he thinks the center will help get a number of local issues, including nuclear power production, dam renewal and unused water rights, the attention they deserve from state policymakers.

For more information, call Cargill at 509-570-2384. The Tri-City office is at 7130 W. Grandridge Blvd., Suite C, Kennewick.

-- Pratik Joshi: 582-1541;