After failing to win the honorary post of Richland mayor, Councilman Phil Lemley said he will run to represent the 8th Legislative District in Olympia this year — and end his eight-year run in municipal office.
Lemley said he considered running for the Eighth District seat held by his neighbor, Rep. Larry Haler, on rumor the incumbent wouldn’t seek re-election.
But Haler has said he is waiting to see how the 2018 session goes before deciding on his future in Olympia.
Lemley said he will probably challenge incumbent Rep. Brad Klippert, a Kennewick Republican.
Lemley moved to the Tri-Cities in 2001 as an engineer at Bechtel to work on the vitrification plant.
He planted roots and was eventually elected to the city council. After retiring from Bechtel in 2010, he has made public service a full-time calling. In December, he lobbied to replace Bob Thompson as Richland’s mostly honorary mayor.
Under Richland’s council-manager form of government, the mayor is chosen from the elected council members.
The role is chiefly ceremonial and entails presiding over meetings, representing the city at public events and ribbon cuttings.
Tuesday, the council chose to give Thompson another two-year term, leaving Lemley visibly upset.
Lemley said he had no future with the city. He considered resigning from the council, but decided to seek a different outlet.
He said 2018 will be his last year on the Richland council, which will open the post a year early.