4 council candidates plan to help Pasco grow

PASCO -- All four of the candidates in contested Pasco City Council races would like to be part of making sure the city's growth is well-planned.

Voters will choose the best candidates for that in the Nov. 8 general election.

Andrew Johnson, a lifelong Pasco resident, is trying to unseat one-term incumbent Al Yenney, a 30-year Pasco resident, for the District 1 position.

And John Talbott, a six-year Pasco resident, is challenging incumbent Rebecca Francik, a 28-year city resident, for the District 5 seat.

The candidates will compete for the vote of all the city's voters in the general election.

Councilmen Matt Watkins and Saul Martinez are running unopposed.

District 1

Johnson, 60, said he always has had an interest in politics and believed now was the time to try for office.

The retired real estate broker said that he has been involved in leadership roles for various nonprofits, the Mid-Columbia Archeological Society and the Franklin County Historical Society.

Yenney, 64, owner of Al's Repair in Pasco, wants another term to contribute to Pasco as a councilman.

Yenney said he is proud of what has been accomplished with making Pasco more open, including broadcasting city council and board meetings on TV and online.

The city recently added the option for residents to watch city council online during the actual meetings.

Yenney said it's important to make sure all citizens who want to speak to council have the opportunity.

He said he tries to keep an open mind on issues and ultimately make the best decision for Pasco residents.

Johnson said he would like to be part of the efforts to thoughtfully plan for growth and ensure Pasco's infrastructure keeps up with the pace of development.

Johnson said he thinks there will be some tough decisions coming up with planning and growth for the city.

"I believe that it's important to the community to improve and promote the opportunities for affordable housing," he said.

Johnson, who has four children and three grandchildren, said he would also like to address what he sees as an animal control problem in the city, with an excessive number of animals at large.

Yenney, a 1964 Pasco High School graduate, said Pasco has done a good job addressing animal control needs and is working to find money for a badly needed new shelter.

He said Franklin County needs to set up animal control in the doughnut holes, the unincorporated county land surrounded by the city.

Yenney, who has two children and two grandchildren, said he thinks the city has run a "tight ship" with the budget and been conservative.

It's difficult to forecast the future because the city doesn't yet know exactly what changes will happen with the state-shared revenue the city receives annually.

District 5

Talbott, 77, said he wants to serve on the council because he can help provide the focused leadership the city needs.

Talbott retired from the Air Force as a colonel in 1982. He also supervised the radio frequency engineering department at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.

He served as Spokane's mayor from 1998 to 2000. Talbott has a political science master's degree with an emphasis in community development from Central Michigan University. He said he has worked with neighborhood associations and community development in the past.

Francik, 55, said she would like to see the city's work on economic development come to fruition. She is pleased with how the city put in infrastructure for economic development and worked with the Port of Pasco on strategic planning.

Francik is a librarian at Rowena Chess Elementary School in Pasco.

She was appointed to the council in 1996 and now is running for her fifth term as councilwoman.

Francik said that she is proud that Pasco is working with Kennewick and Richland through the Regional Public Facilities District and that the city has maintained a high credit rating that allows it to borrow money at low interest rates.

Talbott said he thinks family values need to be brought to the forefront of the community because that's the foundation of a vibrant city.

He would also like to get more residents involved in the community and help improve economic development.

Talbott said he has a vision of how to help downtown Pasco become the "Hispanic Leavenworth" of Eastern Washington.

Talbott , who has two children and three grandchildren, said some of the city's challenges are fixing the council districts so the boundaries make sense and improving the look of some of the city's neighborhoods.

There needs to be a well-planned strategy for development coupled with an effort to attract investment to those areas, he said.

Francik said it's important for the city to maintain infrastructure during the current economic uncertainty.

She said she hopes the city will be able to keep the city's share of the property tax rate down while maintaining services.

Overall, the city council has been fiscally prudent, Francik said.

The city needs to be bold and visionary when working on attracting industry and commercial development in Pasco, Francik said.

"We want to be the type of community where people want to settle," she said.

That means having infrastructure, well-planned development, good schools and a sensible tax structure, she said.

Francik, who has seven children and three grandchildren, said the city needs to address the traffic problem at Road 68 that has occurred because of how fast that area has grown.