Prosser scarecrow lampoons ex-Benton Co. judge (w/ gallery)

PROSSER -- One entry in the Prosser community scarecrow contest has angered a former resident and dusted up bad feelings less than two weeks before voters decide on moving the Benton County seat.

The figure, dressed in a judge's robe, has the face of Fred Staples, a former Superior Court judge and avid supporter of moving the Benton County seat to Kennewick.

The scarecrow is holding a sign saying, "Vote against relocation of county seat."

Larry Brunelle, a longtime critic of city officials and their policies, said he was offended by the image.

"It's an effigy in a judge's robe, and he put Staples' face on it and put a sign on it saying the opposite of what the man worked years and years for," Brunelle said.

The Staples scarecrow is a political parody, said Howard Saxton, whose office is behind the Staples scarecrow.

"It's intended to be a political parody and amusing," Saxton said. "If Judge Staples were to call and say he was offended by it, I would take it down."

"I don't have no complaint about it," Staples said Friday. "But it does make it personal, and it's not about me."

Saxton, who is under contract as the Prosser city attorney, said he wasn't involved in making the scarecrow. His partner, Elisa Riley, said she is responsible.

"It's clearly a political parody," Riley said.

Last year the law office entered a lawyer-themed scarecrow in the town contest and won third place, she said.

Voters will decide Nov. 2 whether to move the county seat from Prosser to Kennewick. State law requires a 60 percent majority of voters to approve moving a county seat.

Brunelle, a Prosser business owner for many years who now lives part time in Oregon, said he believes Saxton represents the city and should not be taking sides.

The Prosser City Council approved a resolution in late September opposing the measure.