Kennewick’s newest councilman is no stranger to city hall

The Kennewick City Council chose a member of the city’s planning commission to fill an open council seat.
The Kennewick City Council chose a member of the city’s planning commission to fill an open council seat. Tri-City Herald

Chuck Torelli began sitting in on public meetings after he retired from Hanford, where he spent most of his 34 years at the Plutonium Finishing Plant.

He’s been a regular at Benton County Commission sessions and at Kennewick City Council ones, as well.

His time spent learning about Kennewick, which won him an appointment to the city’s planning commission in 2017. And, Saturday, it earned him a post on the city council.

Following a daylong series of interviews Saturday, the council selected Torelli to serve out the remaining year of Matt Boehnke.

The city received a record 31 applications for Boehnke’s seat, which expires at the end of this year. He resigned in December after being elected to the Washington Legislature.

Torelli said he was both honored to be picked and overwhelmed by the level of interest in the job. The prior record was 10 candidates for an opening.

As a long-time council observer, Torelli said he’s come to admire the sense of service he’s seen in Kennewick, both by staff and by the elected council members. The council sets policy, approves the budget and oversees the city manager, Marie Mosley.

“There really is an attitude of service. I don’t think it’s put there for show,” he said. “My personal belief is that is an attitude they buy into.”

In his application, Torelli cited the rebuilding of the Playground of Dreams at Columbia Park, the cleaning up of Zintel Canyon and the community fundraising effort that led to a new Boys and Girls Club in central Kennewick as examples of the community and city pulling together.

Torelli will be sworn at the council’s business session at 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, at Kennewick City Hall, 210 S. Sixth Ave. He will vacate his planning commission position.

Torelli earned an associate’s degree from Yakima Valley Community College and spent his career at Hanford. He worked in all aspects of operations and decommissioning of the Plutonium Finishing Plant, including operations manager and D&D superintendent.

Council members are paid about $1,200 a month, plus other benefits.

Torelli joins Mayor Don Britain, Mayor Pro Tem Steve Lee and Councilmen Bill McKay, Paul Parish, John Trumbo and Steve Young.

Torelli’s position, along with those held by Parish and Young, are up for election this year. All are at-large, meaning they represent the entire city. Filing week is in May.

Wendy Culverwell writes about local government and politics, focusing on how those decisions affect your life. She also covers key business and economic development changes that shape our community. Her restaurant column and health inspection reports are reader favorites. She’s been a news reporter in Washington and Oregon for 25 years.