Candidate urges Kennewick City Council to take stand on illegal immigration

A candidate for the Kennewick City Council has once again urged council members to take a stand against illegal immigration.

Loren Nichols, 55, addressed the council Tuesday night during the public comment portion of the council meeting, but got a heated reply from Mayor Steve Young, who said it was "disappointing" that Nichols would use the forum for his campaign.

"It saddens me that you use the city council's chamber to run a campaign," Young said tersely. "It's disappointing to see an individual run for city council who has no idea how the city operates."

Nichols, who campaigned on making illegal immigration a capital crime, took second in the August primary and will face off against Young in the Nov. 8 election for a seat on the council.

"I'm not using this for my campaign," Nichols said as he walked out of council chambers. "I resent that."

Nichols has receivedmedia attention for his controversial stand on illegal immigrants and a call for Kennewick to be an English language-only city, and drew attention across the state after picking up 393 of the 1,523 ballots cast in the primary.

Nichols began his address to the council Tuesday by referencing comments he said Young made to a local news station. He said Young said that the council doesn't have authority to solve the illegal immigration problem, only to put pressure on the state and federal government to solve the problem.

Nichols said that's exactly what the council should do -- pressure the government to take steps to oust illegal immigrants from the city and country.

"I'm not a can't do person. If there's a problem, I say do something about it," he said. "Let's go forward with this. We should put pressure on our government -- especially our federal government. They're the ones who have failed in securing our national borders."

Nichols said he addressed the council about the problem in 2009, and has sent emails to the White House, and the state's senators and representative. He said "significant pressure" is needed to see any result and a request from the council may have more weight than a request from him.

Nichols suggested the council form a committee to look into the issue and he said he'd volunteer for the committee.

Also Tuesday:

-- The council approved a three-year collective bargaining agreement with the city's fire union, International Association of Fire Fighters Local 1296. The new contract gives firefighters a 3.4 percent salary increase for 2011, which is retroactive to January; a 3.4 percent increase in 2012; and a 3 percent increase in 2013. It also includes medical benefits premium sharing costs for firefighters beginning in October, with premiums paid by firefighters increasing in each of the remaining two years of the contract.

-- Council members approved an ordinance rezoning about 97 acres around Vista Field from commercial general, commercial regional and industrial light to public facility and industrial high-limited to commercial regional to conform with the city's comprehensive plan land use map.

-- The council passed an ordinance creating a new "aviation storage and service" nonresidential use category that can be used in all public facility and commercial regional zones. The Port of Kennewick requested the change, saying it most likely would be used at properties that abut Vista Field.