This marijuana retailer became mayor pro tem less than 5 minutes after being sworn in

Steve Lee, center, takes his position as the Kennewick City Council’s mayor pro tem during Tuesday night’s meeting.
Steve Lee, center, takes his position as the Kennewick City Council’s mayor pro tem during Tuesday night’s meeting. Tri-City Herald

The Kennewick City Council chose a recreational marijuana store owner to serve as its face when the mayor isn’t available.

The council Tuesday selected Steve Lee, owner of the Green2Go cannabis stores in Finley and Tokio, to serve as mayor pro tem. The mayor pro tem serves as stand-in for the mayor.

The council elevated Don Britain to the top position.

The Kennewick and Richland city councils swore in their new and returning members Tuesday, then got down to the business of selecting honorary mayors and mayors pro tem.

Kennewick’s council barely took five minutes to swear their people in and decide on titles.

Richland Mayor Bob Thompson and Mayor Pro Tem Terry Christensen retained their positions.

Steve Lee

The Pasco City Council will choose its leaders next week.

West Richland, which chooses a strong mayor under a different form of government, re-elected Brent Gerry in November.

But in Kennewick, Richland and Pasco the role is largely ceremonial and includes running meetings, giving speeches and attending ribbon cuttings.

In Kennewick, the meeting started routinely, with Lee, Britain and Councilmen John Trumbo and Bill McKay sworn into new four-year terms.

Don Britain

As anticipated, Britain was elected mayor on a 4 to 3 vote, with Lee casting the tiebreaking vote against challenger Matt Boehnke.

Lee won the mayor pro tem role with four votes.

In addition to his own vote, he was supported by Britain, and councilmen Paul Parish and Steve Young. Parish received two votes for the role and cast the deciding vote by not voting for himself.

Britain was the obvious choice after serving as Young’s mayor pro tem for the past five years, but Lee’s election as mayor pro tem was a surprise.

A political novice, Lee ran a high profile campaign to represent Kennewick’s second ward in 2017.

Matt Boehnke

He self-funded his campaign against a well-known incumbent, Hanford CFO Greg Jones, and prevailed in the November election.

Lee spent about $85,000 of his own money.

Jones ran a silent campaign that didn’t include submitting a statement to the voter’s pamphlet.

As a councilman, Lee plans to push for a business- and culture-freindly climate in Kennewick.

Along with fellow newcomer Bill McKay, he brings an entrepreneurial voice that has been missing from the elected body that governs Kennewick.